One of the best history reads I've ever experienced. Venice is a unique city in the world, for its culture and history. It was a Republic that lasted over 1000 years, had the most civilized and liberal constitution in the world during its whole existence, up until the creation of the United States of America. Venice truly was the "city on a hill", the light that shines in the darkness of Europe, where everywhere around her there was tyranny, fanaticism, intolerance and ignorance, Venice stood out from the crowd of nations, like a rare species out of its proper environment. And as a rare species we can study her too, like in a lab. Her long history can be easily contrasted to those of more orthodox nations of her time. Venice skipped altogether the feudal times. Watching her birth is like watching the United States being born, only over 700 years before. She didn't need any Independence War, had no civil war to lament, she went straight to business. She went straight to making herself an empire, a military and commercial world empire, out of the blue, like the US in the 19th century.
She also avoided religious entanglements and wars. Fanaticism was not her thing. She was born free and lived free. She was the first ever free and independent state in the world. Ruled by a cultivated class, oligarchy, yes, but in the author's words, a remarkably broadly based one. A nation that was, and stood for a thousand years, way ahead of her time.
Today we may think of Venice as beautiful place, we think of art. Well, that's all true, but that's the least important thing -in my opinion- about this remarkable city. Her beauty is only a symptom of her political stability and her talented citizenry throughout the ages. The Serenissima Republica is a political case to be studied and admired. The Old Lady died old, but what a life she had. Her story is told as beautifully as befits this wonderful city.