Venice - the city with unique personality
Coordinates / 45.43333,12.31667
Country / Italy
Region / Venice
Population / 264 579
For many centuries, Venice has inspired and excited the imagination of the subtle and poetic personalities. It is difficult to name all the famous who have fallen hopelessly in love with this city, whose work has been influenced, in one way or another, exciting Venetian nooks and expansive landscape of lagoons.
Walking over the narrow Venetian bridges, one experiences the distinctive melancholy spirit of Venice, immortalised by artists such as Vittore Carpaccio, Bellini and Giorgione, whose paintings are represented in Museum of the Academy on the south bank of the Grand Canal.
Bringing to mind the Venice made famous by William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice".
By taking a boat ride on the open deck of a vaporetto (an urban public water transport) and pondering lagoon, it is easy to imagine the beautiful eyes of the poetic and educated courtesans of the past, drifting in their richly decorated gondolas.
To recognise the ancestry of a sailor, Doge or slave brought here more than five centuries ago by ships from the east.
Alas, the former flourishing Venetian era has long gone. To the great sadness of citizens in the 15th century, Venice found itself defenceless against the Turkish expansion after the fall of Byzantium, forcing the Europeans to look for alternative maritime trade routes. At the same time, the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama, paved the way to India, which deprived Venice of its monopoly on trade with the East.
That in turn, had a negative impact on the prosperity of its local residents, the wealthiest being merchants and sailors. Since then, the city has lost its gloss, and both gradually metaphorically and literally started began to decay and sink into the depths of the Adriatic Sea.
The city on the water is drowning; world renowned scientists are in agreement sighting various reasons and proofs. Poets echo the scientists with their sad romantic anticipation of the demise of this once great city, as Venice slowly returns from whence it came, despite the attempts of UNESCO, and the local residents to safe without a doubt, this wonderful living museum.
The spirit of melancholy prevails over Venice, especially at the dawn and after sunset when the noisy crowds of tourists quieten down and occasional couples sit late into the evening completing their dinner, consisting mostly of Fritto Misto with a glance of sparkling wine. The stone brick pavements immersed in silence and only the rhythmic knocking of the gondolas dare to break the silence.
Today's Venice is a city packed with tourists, which are especially noticeable in the summer and during festivals. Every day the lagoons open their gates to yachts, cargo ships and ocean liners, which creates the impression of an ancient Venice juxtaposed with a modern chaotic appearance. The city, which retains its bridges and pavements with the magical footprints of powerful Doges, intrepid explorers, seductive courtesans, merchants, sailors, slaves and both famous and ordinary spectators from around the world. Nowadays, during the busy tourist season, it is more reminiscent of Disneyland. Thus, the city can not be really considered as a paradise hideaway for lovers of solitude.
Venice bustles with activity during a daytime, street vendors, tourists, tour guides, souvenirs made in China, pigeons, noisy families with cameras, which create a dissonance with the ancient architecture of the city. Surprisingly, this excessive turmoil in no way spoils the landscape but only reinforces the idea that Venice has found its niche in an era of irrepressible consumption and high technology.
It is also hard to call Venice a gastronomic paradise. It may be that we were unlucky and on future visits, we may discover another site of Venetian cuisine. All Venetian cafes display menu boards outside the premises and our only advice is to trust to luck and just go with the flow. Most of the food is imported to the island from the mainland so menus only differ slightly. But if you are determined to witness the sunrise or sunset or observe the stunning views of the lagoon from a restaurant we can recommend the roof top restaurant of the hotel Danieli. Which is located opposite the S. Zaccaria vaporetto station within a three-minute walk from the Saint Mark's square, where the famous and highest viewing platform - campanile of Saint Mark is situated.
Walking in the afternoon on the streets adjacent to the square, do not miss the "Da Rafaelle" restaurant terrace, where Italian cuisine is served. In addition, if you are lucky, there is a chance to hear the famous song "O sole mio" accompanied by an accordion from the gondolas floating nearby.
Sometimes between the inviting shops of Murano glass, masks and carnival costumes, there may be seen cheese shops. Which sell cheese from Italian provinces, as well as breadsticks, referred to as "grissini". All these sate the hunger somewhere along a deserted promenade, close to the sleeping quarters, away from the tourist traps.
Early in the morning, take a vaporetto and go to Murano, where it is possible to taste the most delicate tiramisu and cheer up with a cup of coffee observing the modern life of glass artisans and witness the multicoloured two stored buildings for which the island is famous.
Venice is multifaceted and if experiencing Venetian cuisine is limited by time, spend a couple minutes or maybe hours in the very old and legendary Italian cafe "Florian", formerly known as the "Arab" cafe. This place is famous for the preparation and sale of the first cup of coffee in Europe (according to the legend). But not only is "Florian", a special place with its own unique character and a life orchestra which adds to the magical atmosphere. It is common to hear jazz or classical music or even to watch the occasional couples of various ages spontaneously start to dance a tango.
It is easy to find the Florian, just turn your back to Saint Mark's Cathedral, you will see Saint Mark's square in front of you, following the soothing sound of music which you undoubtedly hear.
Additionally by using a water taxi or vaporetto along the lagoons, it is possible to observe Venice, to see the only bridge which connects Venice with the mainland, to visit the nearby islands, such as Lido where the annual film festival takes place. The island of Saint Michael where numerous famous people are buried, Burano island with its unique handmade laces, Murano island where the internationally renowned Murano glass producers have been located for centuries.
Everyone has an opportunity to observe the glassmakers at work and sometimes even to take part in the process of creating a vase or necklace or to visit some of the many shops and buy Murano glass products, whatever they may be, from an expensive chandelier to a small pendant.
If you are going to Venice with the goal of experiencing its unique spirit, follow these instructions:
- just get yourself relaxed
- take a map at the hotel reception and let yourself get lost in the small streets of the city, avoiding the densely packed tourist paths
- be prepared, life in Venice is more expensive than any other popular city of Italy
- it may be true that observing gondolas' is more comfortable than travelling in them, but it must be worth experiencing at least once
- leave the hotel before dawn, while the huge numbers of tourists are still sleeping and the peaceful and empty streets of Venice still hold their poetic spirits
- shopping in Venice is not a brilliant idea but anything is possible in Italy so a bargain may be found especially during the sales
- do not try to see all the sights at once, Venice is rich with detail, and can not be rushed
- be prepared to be on your feet for hours, a pair of comfortable shoes are a must
- if the history and the art make your heart beat a little faster, buy a ticket to the Museum of Academy. The paintings of ancient artists are exhibited in its halls. The exhibition may help to understand the ancient life, its fashion and the appearance of the city. It is interesting to learn that local Venetian women were blonde and the columns of the Doge Palace were originally higher.