Venice has long evoked contrasting images – on the one hand the republican embodiment of Renaissance principles, a rare example of both stability and freedom; on the other, a city of spying and treachery, a government founded on oppression and driven by corruption. Caught between the Scylla and Carybdis of what amounts to a historiographical paradox, historians have found it difficult to escape its reductiveness, taking sides in describing one view as ‘myth’, the other as historical reality. The five books reviewed in this article suggest different but connected ways of sailing out of these straits by emphasizing the utter diversity of the city, the government, and the images they have evoked through the ages. In this interpretation, more than harmony, what is crucial about Venice is the coexistence of the different ‘worlds’ of this early multicultural metropolis. In line with a recent move away from fixed tags and neat developments to an emphasis on diversity in the historiography of early modern Europe, this is a welcome and interesting evolution in the history of Venice, though it is by no means unproblematic, multiculturalism being no easier issue in the Renaissance than in the twenty-first century.