Piazza San Marco | Potsdamer Platz

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Venice, Italy | Berlin, Germany

In a place like Venice, where land is in short supply, it may seem profligate to devote as large an area as the Piazza San Marco to open space, and yet the vast piazza seems essential to the vitality of the city (above left). The canal and the lagoon open up spectacular views that are unequalled anywhere, but the glancing encounters and human exchanges that make a city live are not much more likely to occur on a waterway than they do on a motorway.

The streets and alleys of Venice seem to lead pedestrians back to the piazza, whether or not it was their intention to go there. ...

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