With the world’s most artistic masterpieces per square kilometre, you’d think the city would take it easy, maybe rest on its laurels. But Venice refuses to retire from the inspiration business. In narrow calli (alleyways), you’ll glimpse artisans hammering out shoes crested like lagoon birds, cooks whipping up four-star dishes on single-burner hotplates, and musicians lugging 18th-century cellos to riveting baroque concerts played with punk-rock bravado. As you can see, all those 19th-century Romantics got it wrong. Venice is not destined for genteel decay. Billionaire benefactors and cutting-edge biennales are filling up those ancient palazzi (palaces) with restored masterpieces and eyebrow-raising contemporary art and architecture, and back-alley galleries and artisan showrooms are springing up in their shadows. Your timing couldn’t be better: the people who made walking on water look easy are already well into their next act.