Benvignùo and greetings from Venice! 🇮🇹
Did you know that Venice is actually the shape of a fish as seen from above? 🐟
This shape seems appropriate for Venice- a city made up of 118 small islands, separated by canals, and linked by over 400 bridges, floating on the Venetian Lagoon. 🌊
In 500 AD, northern Italians fled here in order to escape barbaric rulers whom were ravaging Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. Although initially vulnerable and seeking solace, their perseverance and survival mentality made them a force to be reckoned with. Venice soon became it’s own country, and both an economic and military powerhouse for the next one thousand years! 💪
Today, the patron of Venice is the lion, which represents magnificence and power. 🦁
Their wealth and prosperity reminds me a lot of the Catalan community in Spain. Just like the Catalans, the Venetians speak their own language, a mix of Italian and Spanish, and maintain a unique culture that is distinct from the rest of Italy. 🎆
Now, the inhabitants initially just had dirt paths here, and constructed the buildings as they collected materials. It wasn’t until years later, when they decided to make this their permanent residence, that they drove wooden stakes into the sandy bottom of the lagoon, followed by wooden platforms, and finally permanent structures.
Since these wooden structures are built underwater, microorganisms lack the necessary oxygen to survive there and thus the wood will not decay or rot. As well, the constant flow of salt water washing over the wood has petrified it over time, and it’s now as strong as stone.
That being said, the fluctuating groundwater below the city and elevating sea levels means that the city has slowly been sinking since its construction. In only 100 years, the city has sunk nine inches. Experts warn, that if the effects of global warming continue, this sinking city may soon cease to exist. 😢
Side Note: every year, starting in October, there is an a flooding season called Acqua Alta, or ‘high tide’. One unique place to visit in Venice is this book store, Libreria Acqua Alta, where the boats are all packed into canoes to protect them. 📚
Now, in keeping with the fish theme, if Venice is a fish, you can just call me Dory. 😂
There are now almost 3,000 narrow, winding streets connecting the city, which is enough to leave anyone confused on where to turn next. As well, most people get dropped off in the head of this fish, where the bus, train and cruise port are located. 🚆
From there, you’ll have to navigate through the Venetian maze to get to the belly of the fish, where you’ll find all the major attractions. 🤯
To get from place to place in the city, you can either walk or take a boat. 🚣♀️
The sewer system here is a work in progress as well, and much of the raw sewage is dumped into the water. 🏊♀️
I mean, it made me feel a little sad. Many people, like myself, use Venice as stopover. They spend the day dragging their luggage around the city, rattling their carry-ons over the cobblestone, snapping loads of photos, and leaving without getting to know the real people of this city.
As the perfect example, after a tourist boom in 2008, when rent prices skyrocketed and the population dropped down to only 60,000 locals, the residents decided to have public funeral for the death of the city that they once loved. 😔
What can you do to help?
As a tourist, you can support local businesses.
This June, Venice launched Fairbnb, a vacation rental platform that connects tourists and locals. This program not only directly benefits the local host, 50% of the revenue is used for projects, which support the local community.
There are occasional directional signs, which keep giving you hope that you’re headed in the right direction, but they’re few and far between.
Basically, after around 30 minutes of feeling dazed and confused, I decided to throw in the towel and forget trying to navigate. I decided to put down my map and get wonderfully lost. ❤️
Anyway, I did manage to see most of the must-see sights, including the Rialto Market, the Bridge of Sighs, St. Mark’s Basilica, and Doge’s Palace, among many other historic landmarks.
On top of that, I unintentionally wandered upon this quirky art gallery, Bel-Air Fine Art.
What to Do and Buy:
There are lots of museums to visit in Venice, but I chose to just eat, drink, and people-watch during my time here. 📷
Highlights of my day included craft beer, arancino de riso, or fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella, and a slice of veggie pizza with eggplant. 🍕
Getting in and Luggage Storage:
I flew into Venice from Malta with Ryanair for only 30 bucks.
My options into the city were either a direct bus for 12 Euros or a combo local bus and train for around 4 Euros and 80 cents. Of course, I chose the latter, which meant more money for food and drink.
When to Visit:
For me, Venice was an ultra nightmare from 1 to 4 PM. There were so many tourists and the sun was relentless.
During the summer, I would suggest visiting after 6 PM or before 9 AM. During those times, the weather was more tolerable, most of the tourists had left, and the lighting was just lovely! While visiting, I met these two Canadian girls that had just finished up a working holiday in Dublin. We spent the evening sitting along side of the canal, watching the sun go down.🌅
Afterwards, I took a bus in the middle of the night to Ljubljana, Slovenia. Country number 66, here I come! 🙌