The Piazza San Marco, Rialtobridge and the Bridge of Sighs, black Gondolas, colourful carnival masks, Murano glass. No one who arrives in the city, sees these wonders for the first time. Too often has it been talked about and represented in film, music and photography, so that it has been incorporated in our collective consciousness.
This pretty little town, built on stilts, still has houses that were built in a different epoch and it truly does feel like you are taken aback into a different era. However, it is sufficient to walk through the maze of streets, squares and backyards for 1 or two hours to suspect that Venice is an architecturally beautiful, so close and rich and stocked with treasures to explore like no other city in the world.
The miracle of Venice started around 500ad, when the inhabitants of the mainland, the veneti, fleed from the Huns and Lombards into the lagoon. They started combining dozens of small islands together through bridges and rammed millions of wooden poles into the muddy ground and so created the 7,5kmÂ² area as we know it today. All in all there are about 3,000 streets, 100 squares around 150 canals and over 400 bridges.
The most famous bridge is probably the bridge of sighs, because this bridge connected the prison and the building where more often than not an inmate was executed. Every prisoner who walked over this bridge knew this and sighed deeply. It is claimed the sigh was so loud that you could hear it through the streets.
Surrounding the 6 districts (Sestieri), the historic centre (Centro Storico) there are dozens of little islands, some of which still serve a social purpose – the cemetery island of San Michele for example, or the vegetable islands Sant’Erasmo and Le Vignole. Not to forget the glass-blowing island of Murano, the ancient diocesan town of Torcello, in between Burano, the refuge of the lace makers, and on the southern horizon, the Lido, a narrow strip of sand between the lagoon and the open sea.
The view from the church tower is what gives a new visitor to Venice the picture of the uniqueness of the cityâ€™s location. From the Campanile of the Benedictine monastery San Giorgio Maggiore for example, the outline of the city are good to make out. I little further East the green of the Giardini Pubblici, the City Park, illuminates and the adjacent exhibition area of the Biennale. The concrete blocks that are the car park garages and the train station jut out in the west, over the shingle roof sea and in the distant still the vents of the industrial zones of Marghera and Mestre can be seen.
Within reach, however, is the large, mirrored “S” of the Canal Grande. A small bit to the east from the end of the Canal lies the heart and former political center of power of Venice – the Doge’s Palace and the Piazza di San Marco and its Basilica. On the square in front is the winged Lion of St. Mark, which is a symbol of the “raids” of the city, as this statue was brought back hundreds of years ago after a raid in other countries and is the pride and joy of Venice.
Every step you take, you will feel as if you are being transported back in time. Venice is rich in history and the city has done a good job in preserving this. As any tourist-y area anywhere in the world, beware of the tourist traps and being mercilessly ripped off! The best examples are probably the prices for Ice cream, Coffee or even just a bottle of water. If youâ€™re gonna buy either at Piazza di San Marco, expect to pay three times the regular amount (which is still expensive!). Have a little wander into the side streets where you will fine more quaint and beautiful little cafÃ©s that sell drinks and food at more affordable prices. After all a glass of water is a glass of water â€“ regardless of how much it cost.
Enjoy the beautiful city of love and experience everything it has to offer!Tags: bridges, Carnival, Islands, Italy, Venice