Virtual Venice

Never been to Venice? You have our deepest gondolences. Try this fascinating short tour instead-it's the next best thing.
Virtual Venice is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 11.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fairly superficial It was nice to visit Venice even if virtual. This was a quick and fairly superficial "tour" of a great city. It does give you some the highlights you might want to visit if you go there.
Date published: 2021-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview A short overview of any location is alway a welcomed way to get into a location. Details can always be found via google and other sources after a good foundational introducation. This professor had a great humor evident by some of his comments. He was enjoyable to watch. I great appreciate this type of short and sweet overview.
Date published: 2021-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Short and sweet I thoroughly enjoyed this! It's a quick tour of Venice, showing the beautiful buildings, bridges and canals. Prof Bartlett is knowledgeable and highly entertaining. Well worth a watch, thank you.
Date published: 2021-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed I enjoyed learning about all the history in Venice and hope to one day visit. Thank you!
Date published: 2021-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect COVID viewing A sigh at a beautiful city. The photography is wonderful and I enjoyed the lectures, not a "course" per se, but short and sweet.
Date published: 2020-12-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Should not be considered a course This was an intersting snippet, but as another reviewer said, there was no depth to the narrative.
Date published: 2020-11-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting, but very surface-level The description for the course says it will be a quick tour, but it's a rapid tour, spending very little time on each location. Most site descriptions mainly contained the name and relevant dates, with a squeak of history. There were many times when the professor said something that piqued my curiosity, but then he moved on without further explanation. Just one example was when he spoke about three masks. He described them then summarized by saying 'and you can see they fit the culture of the day' (paraphrased). Why? How? The description also said that the course (though 'quick') would examine the history and culture of the city. It did, but just barely. I have no doubt that the professor is brilliant, as stated in the description. I just wish it had shown in the course. Beyond the brief, surface-level treatment of the sites, almost all are introduced with one of two phrases: "I'm standing in front of..." or "We're/I'm approaching the..." How about a little variance, such as pointing to a building and saying, 'this is...' or 'Behind me is...' Overall, I was disappointed by the lack of information about the history and culture of Venice. Perhaps my expectations were too high since the total time for the course is less than 40 minutes. For me, this is the first course that has been less than five stars.
Date published: 2020-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Much Enjoyed Very nice introduction to Venice. I, like others, wish it was longer but the short lectures make it perfect for a quick viewing.
Date published: 2020-09-10
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Take a quick tour of Venice with a brilliant professor of Italian history as your personal tour guide while you examine the history and culture of this truly magical city.


Kenneth R. Bartlett
Kenneth R. Bartlett

In short, and in almost every way that matters, historical Europe was the laboratory in which the world you now live in was conceived and tested. And you'll be living with the consequences of those experiments for the rest of your life.


University of Toronto

Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto in 1978. He was the first director of the University of Toronto Art Centre and founding director of the Office of Teaching Advancement at the university, a position he held until 2009.

Much of Professor Bartlett’s career has been devoted to bringing the culture of European history into undergraduate and graduate classrooms. He has taught regularly in the University of Toronto Summer Abroad programs in Europe. He has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards, most notably, the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, awarded by the Canadian Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and the inaugural President’s Teaching Award from the University of Toronto. In 2007, Professor Bartlett was one of the 10 finalists in TVOntario’s Best Lecturer Competition, which pits students’ favorite instructors against one another in a battle of charisma, clarity, passion, and conviction. That same year, the professor was recognized with an inaugural Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award by the government of Ontario.


Professor Bartlett is the author of The English in Italy, 1525–1558: A Study in Culture and Politics; The Civilization of the Italian Renaissance: A Sourcebook; and most recently, A Short History of the Italian Renaissance. He is also coeditor or translator of five other books, including Humanism and the Northern Renaissance (with M. McGlynn), and author of more than 35 articles and chapters on European history and culture. He has been the academic consultant and occasional on-camera commentator for the Illuminated Filmworks videos about the Vatican Library and for such television series as The Naked Archaeologist and Museum Secrets.


Together with his wife, Gillian, who herself holds a Ph.D. and is the author of seven books, Professor Bartlett regularly leads tours to Europe for major museums, universities, and cultural organizations.


Professor Bartlett’s other Great Courses include The Development of European Civilization, The Italian Renaissance, and The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean

By This Professor

The Great Tours: Experiencing Medieval Europe
The Guide to Essential Italy
Piazza San Marco

01: Piazza San Marco

Approach Venice the way it was meant to be approached—by taking a boat into the Basin of Saint Mark. Join Professor Bartlett as he provides an insightful tour of the political and historical center of Venice–St. Mark’s Square. You’ll meet city’s patron saints, examine the great Ducal palace, marvel at the Basilica of St. Mark, have an espresso at Caffè Quadri, and more.

10 min
A Tour Down the Grand Canal

02: A Tour Down the Grand Canal

Travel down Venice’s Grand Canal by boat and admire some of the city’s most beautiful waterfront attractions, including the imposing Customs House, the lovely Peggy Guggenheim museum, the world-famous Rialto Bridge, beautiful and historical palaces, and much more. Along the way, hear the fascinating and sometimes scandalous stories that made these sites so famous, including tales of Casanova, Lord Byron, and others.

7 min
A Walking Tour of Venice

03: A Walking Tour of Venice

Stretch your legs as Professor Bartlett takes you on a walking tour through the city of canals. Start at San Zanipolo with its large plaza, church, and equestrian statue and hear the story of the clever Venetian leader who created it. Along the way, visit the gorgeous Church of the Miracle—a favorite site for weddings. Tour the Ghetto Nuovo—the historic Jewish area of Venice and the origin of our word Ghetto. End with a visit to the gates of the Venetian Arsenal—the naval factory from which all Venetian power was derived.

11 min
A Ride on a Gondola

04: A Ride on a Gondola

Venice is famous for its native form of transportation—the gondola. Professor Bartlett starts this tour at the Squero di San Trovaso—the last remaining boatyard in Venice—where you’ll be treated to an in-depth lesson on how boats are made and decorated. Then travel down the canals to visit the Bridge of Fists—named for being the site of a Venetian “Fight Club,” the world-famous Bridge of Sighs, the house of an adventurous Venetian named Marco Polo, and the Ponte delle Tette—the red light district of renaissance Venice.

6 min
A Taste of Venetian Culture

05: A Taste of Venetian Culture

Wrap up your Venetian adventure with a look at some of the unique cultural experiences for which Venice is known. Tour the Ca’ Macana mask shop to learn about how these works of art are created, the varieties, and the historical uses. Then visit the Campo de la Pescaria, the fish market of Venice. Lastly, join a master artist for a lesson in glass blowing at Vetreria Murano Arte

5 min