As I was searching through Spanish language Second Life blogs (Caminante de Suenos - Sleep Walker) , I stumbled across a unique looking sim, whose name was new to me - Venexia. I noted its strong similarity to Venice, and needless to say, a trip was obviously in order!
An "official" photo of Venexia, from its forums
Upon arrival, I did note a few divergent things, after taking a moment to look around at the arrival site. First, it is a new site (having officially opened last Tuesday, the 8th, if I recall correctly)... and its very busy. Do be prepared for a bit of lag, and plenty of spacey noobs wandering about in the welcome area. Secondly, the sim is beautiful (more on that), but its focus is Role Play - its quite in-depth, and though the presentation of its background is well done (via a notecard matrix at the arrival point), it is detailed, so do be prepared to engage in a bit of reading. Finally, it is a Gothic role-play - meaning its not *exactly* Steampunk (though on a stretch, one could say that the waning days of sending young men on the Great Tour would have been represented by Venexia - a practiced ended by Steampunk technology (specifically, the Steam engine and the emergence of rail and steamship travel).
The very impressive Venexia Arrival destination
At Venexia's Arrival destination
One more small but vital detail - the sim is designed for a Vampiric focus... thus it revolves around this specific genre. This being said, there is a "three day" pass (which is easily "renewed"), so one can visit the sim in an "OOC" status, and either obtain a "feel" for Venexia, or simply admire the build.
The Gondola to Venexia - just sit down and you will arrive quite swiftly!
The overall theme of Venexia is a Venice with a Gothic feel to it. Much of the build was designed with this in mind, so its less likely than not you will find any "sunny" spots to take photos in the city. In actuality, though there is a normal SL day-cycle, it seems to feel more "natural" with a night atmosphere (if I recall correctly, the sim owner recommends one such appearance - including choice of "midnight").
Overlooking the canals of Venexia
Once one arrives on the sim itself, it is quite a masterpiece - the builds are crafted extremely well, with rich genre textures (and aligned well - small detail, but important), but in addition, one aspect that captured my attention was the dark and mysterious winding alleyways, along with the classic representations of Italian architecture.
A long view of the Piazza Grande, between the library and the Guild
There are many luscious builds to visit - the Basilica, the Theater, Library, Guild, a Bordello, and many more locations to indulge. Each is "home" to a "clan", but if one choose not to participate in the RP (as you'll need the "visitor" tag), one can still indulge in the atmosphere (along with a bit of classical music to accompany you on your explorations)!
Ah, a young neer-do-well outside the theater!
Which brings me back to the actual RP itself... if one is interested in at the very least paying an eye to it, there is a sim forum with an extensive description of the background, clans, and plenty more information regarding the interaction between individuals. It can seem a bit lengthy, but the background is sensible, and not overwhelming (really). To take a peek at it, please do head towards: http://community.socionex.com/venexia/venexia-background-story/
There are *plenty* of twists and turns in the alleys, so do beware (even if simply exploring)!
Having a quiet discussion with Breezy at the Piazza
I heartily recommend a visit to the Venexia... even if the genre isn't one's "cup of tea", having the opportunity to relax and explore such a beautiful genre sim is a pleasure! To start your journey, please follow this link to a Virtual Venice, at: http://slurl.com/secondlife/venexia/40/247/609/