La Serenissima dominated the Mediterranean for centuries. Treasures from Constantinople, gold mosaics, and majestic palaces looming over the waters make Venice incredibly unique. Some patrician residences are still private and receive guests arriving from the Grand Canal by candlelight. Inland, the genius Palladio created country homes with the architectural dignity of classical Greek temples. Many of these villas are still owned by the descendants of the Doges, and their cellars produce renowned vintage wines.