Venetia, in ancient geography, a district of upper Italy, bounded by the Carnic Alps, the Timavus (now Timavo), the Adriatic, and the Athesis (Adige), which separated it from Cisalpine Gaul proper, of which it sometimes formed part. It was a fertile territory, the principal productions of which were wool, sweet wines, and race horses. The chief cities were Aquileia, Ateste (Este), Patavium (Padua), Vicentia (Vicenza), and Tarvisium (Treviso). The inhabitants, the Veneti or Heneti, were reputed to be descendants of the Paphlagonian Heneti, brought to the shores of the Adriatic by Antenor, a Trojan hero, the legendary founder of Patavium (Padua). Others supposed them to be kindred to the Celtic Veneti in Gallia Lugdunensis; but they not only spoke a different language from that of the Celts, but also lived in continual hostility to the Gallic tribes in their neighborhood. According to Herodotus, the Veneti inhabited Illyria. Modern critics are inclined to regard them as Slavs, of the same branch as the Winds in the neighboring Illyrian provinces of Austria. They early entered into an alliance with Rome, and subsequently became her subjects without resistance.
Under the earlier emperors they enjoyed great prosperity, but during the 3d, 4th, and 5th centuries their territory was frequently devastated by the invading barbarians. The invasion of the Huns, under Attila, drove many of them to the islands and lagoons of the Adriatic, where they became the founders of Venice, with whose history that of Venetia became closely connected. The republic gradually absorbed the petty states which had arisen in the early part of the middle ages, and extended its possessions in Italy beyond the limits of the ancient territory. (See Venice.) In 1815 the country as far W. as the Mincio and S. to the Po was made part of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom of the Austrian empire, and in 1866 became a territorial division of the kingdom of Italy; it is bounded N. W., N., and N. E. by Tyrol and Carinthia, E. by Görz and Gradisca, S. E. by the gulf of Venice and the Adriatic, S. by the division of Emilia, and S. W. and W. by Lombardy; area, 9,060 sq. m.; pop. in 1872, 2,642,807. It is divided into the provinces of Belluno, Padua, Rovigo, Treviso, Udine, Venice, Verona, and Vicenza.. The chief rivers are the Po, Adige, Brenta, and Piave. Lake Garda and the Mincio form part of the western boundary.