The heart of the city of Venice is Piazza San Marco, and it is the only square which has earned the name Piazza – all the other squares in Venice, in fact, are either called campi or campielli.
The Basilica of San Marco sits as the central attraction of the all-important Piazza, all gilded and covered in mosaics that tell the story of this most magnificent of cities. The bas reliefs tell of the months of the year and high above the main door stand the statuesque bronze horses of Constantinople (actually, they are copies, the originals in the San Marco Museum for safekeeping) to commemorate the Fourth Crusade in 1204.
The Basilica takes the form of a Greek cross crowned by five enormous cupolas.
The Basilica that stands there today is actually the third basilica dedicated to Saint Mark on the same spot – the first two were destroyed. It seems that this one was built in the image of Constantinople’s Church of the Holy Apostles.
The inside of the Basilica is decorated with golden mosaics that depict biblical stories and allegories.
Initially it served as the private chapel of the Doges of the Republic of Venice.


Portogruaro sits on the shores of the Lemene River. No one is quite sure of the origin of this town’s name.
Some claim that it comes from the word gru, birds typical of the marshlands that once made up great part of the landscape here. This theory also gave life to the town’s emblem.
Another theory has it that the name came from the Latin gruarius or ‘guardian of the fields’, a profession that fit in well with the times and value of the terrain.
The Porto part certainly referred to the ancient river port that surged here when Venice was at the peak of her power. Little remains of it today but its part of the name.


This important Roman centre, Iulia Concordia, was founded in 42 BC where Via Annia and Via Postumia intersected. During the Roman Empire it was part of the X Regio Venetia et Histria, or Kingdom of Venice and Istria.
After the Barbarian Invasions it became part of the Ducato Longobardo di Cividale and in the Middle Ages it was an integral part first of the Marca del Friuli and then of the Patriarcato di Aquileia.
The Republic of Venice annexed Concordia, together with the entire Friuli area it belonged to, in 1420.
In 1838 the city was detached from the Friuli ‘Republic’ to become part of the Province of Venice. The city remains a bit suspended between Venice and Friuli even today, as although it is under the administration of Venice, its citizens speak a typically Friulian dialect, Friulano Concordiese.