Five Famous Venetians And How They Changed The World

Venice was founded as a refuge for members of society that fled various invasions occurring in Italy many centuries ago. Because Venice eventually became a republic, which was freer and more liberal than all other European states of the day, it attracted talent from far and wide and became a birthplace of many prominent people in the spheres ranging from arts to sciences to commerce and politics.

Below, we tell stories of five notable Venetians, who made great contribution to the society and influenced the course of the modern world. However, throughout the generations Venice continued to produce incredible entrepreneurs and artists- so this list is just a taste of what Venice had and has to offer to the world.

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi Concert in Venice

Antonio Vivaldi is without a doubt one of the most influential baroque musicians. He was born in Venice in 1678, and was baptized almost immediately. Many historians note the significance of this event, because it suggests that Vivaldi was set to lead a life heavily influenced by Catholicism.

Vivaldi’s father was a budding violinist, who taught his son to play, and subsequently brought him on a musical tour of the Venetian lagoon. Although Vivaldi was ordained as a priest, and dedicated much of his time to the church, his passion for music was longstanding. A brilliant violinist and a talented composer, Vivaldi lived in Venice his entire life, although he found much success in other European countries too. While he remained a well known figure throughout his life, after his death, he fell into relative obscurity and fame eluded him.

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that historians uncovered a large body of his work, and reintroduced him to society. This Venetian musician, best known for composing the “Four Seasons”, is now played not only all over Venice but also in the best concert halls of the world, and is considered one of the greatest composers of all times. He is a large part of venetian artistic heritage and his influence on European and world culture is undisputed.

Marco Polo

Travels Of Marco Polo from Venice

Marco Polo is a household name, known by most throughout modern society as a noted adventurer. However, a lesser known fact is that he was born and raised in Venice. This merchant traveler followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle who traveled to Asia previously. Accompanied by his experienced relatives he traded extensively abroad and eventually spent 24 years in Asia, including in the court of a Mongolian khan. When Marco returned to Venice he found it at war with Genoa and promptly joined the war. Marco Polo was soon captured by the Genoese and put in jail, where he dictated the accounts of his travels to a cellmate. Thanks to this unfortunate course of events we now have a book called “Book of The Marvels of the World”, where Marco Polo’s memories have been kept alive for generations since about 1300.

Marco Polo embodied the qualities that Venetians always held dear and that modern society values as well: boldness, achievement, curiosity, and pragmatism. Upon his return he brought to Venice and indeed to Europe knowledge of previously-unheard-of things such as existence of paper money and getting energy from burning coal. It is also widely believed that his explorations of China and central Asia led to the introduction of pasta to Italy, which was inspired by the ancient art of noodle making in China. The book has since inspired many generations of explorers and travelers and had great effect on the formation of European culture and values. One prominent example was the influence Marco Polo’s book had on Christopher Columbus. Columbus was so inspired by Marco Polo’s works, that he later chose to set sail and explore the world himself.

Carlo Goldoni

house of carlo goldoni in venice

Carlo Goldoni was the William Shakespeare of Venice, a figure well-known and respected at home and subsequently worldwide. Goldoni was a prominent Venetian playwright that penned plays performed to this day. Goldoni was born in Venice in the early 1700s, but was relocated to Rimini as a young child, where he was cared for by a famous philosopher.

However, Goldoni’s true love of Venice made hime run away as a young boy- and return to the Lagoon city. Carlo Goldoni would later enroll in school, where he was exposed to Greek and Latin comedies- an experience which perhaps set the tone for his later works.

Comedies were integral to Goldoni’s work, and his time spent in Italian theater would later prove revolutionary to the evolution of European theater. Goldoni moved Italian plays away from their rigid style and forced humor, and worked to incorporate reality into the plays- through depictions of everyday events and experiences. He is widely viewed as a theatrical genius who set the tone for modern theater, and a very important Venetian figure.

Giacomo Casanova

House Of Casanova In Venice

While controversial and scandalous, Giacomo Casanova is one of the best-known Venetians enjoying worldwide fame centuries after his death. He was a celebrity of sorts in his day, well-known for his amorous adventures and avanturistic lifestyle, and his lasting influence on the image of Venice is undeniable. Casanova was born in 1725 in a family of Venetian theater actors, and studied in the university of Padua demonstrating quick wit and curiosity leading to great academic results. Although he graduated with a coveted legal degree and was able to enter high ranks of Venetian society, Casanova’s passion for gambling and for women led to a series of scandals and culminated in his two exiles from Venice and to a serious prison sentence. At odds with the government, church, and mainstream society, this famous adventurer perfectly embodied the revolutionary spirit of the Venetian Lagoon.

Casanova was also a popular author, who wrote autobiographical works describing his famous escape from the Palace of Doge’s prison and recounting his amorous adventures. His books are used today as a form of sociological insight into 18th century Venice. He is well known by the general public as a ladies man, hence the modern use of the term “Casanova” to indicate a flirtatious man. His many relationships with women, his tendency to gamble and his questionable professions made him fall out of favor with venetian government and society and forced him to later set roots in France.

Casanova is noted for being more than just a regular troublemaker. Various scholars have come to the understanding that Casanova was viewed as a highly intelligent and intellectual man by his peers who questioned stringent religious dogmas and sought more open and progressive society. He also had an entrepreneurial spirit that led to his financial success later in life.


Tintoretto Venetian painter

Tintoretto’s real name was Jacopo Comin and he was born in Venice in 1518 as one of 21 children in a family of a Venetian dyer, or “tintore” in Italian. Thanks to his father’s profession the boy quickly got a nickname “Tintoretto” or “little dyer” which stuck with him for life. Exhibiting rare talent from an early age, Tintoretto was sent to Titian’s studio to learn from the master. However, his relationship was Titian did not work out and the boy was sent home after only 10 days of study. Mopdern researches recon that Titian, then a great established master, saw independence and spirituality in Tintoretto’s works and realized that he could not be a proper obedient student in his studio. Tales of jealousy of the old master to the boy’s talent are also abound. Despite this not-so-great start in Titian’s workshop, Tintoretto went on to develop his own unique manner and style and become one of the greatest Italian renaissance painters dubbed “Il Furioso” or “The Furious”. This nickname was acquired as a result of the amount of passion and energy he put into his work, which remained consistent throughout the entirety of his career.

Tintoretto is best known for his paintings that still hang as they did centuries ago in the churches and famous public buildings in Venice, including the Doge’s Palace. His large, sometimes monumental paintings feature realistic images, gorgeously built people, unusual perspectives, and Venetian themes.

Venice: Inspiration For Artists and Adventurers

Canal In Venice Italy

Venice was created through the persistence and perseverance of people and emerged as the only republic amid dark medieval states. This led to a burst of creative energy, curiosity, and pragmatic spirit that bore many talented artistic personalities, entrepreneurs and adventurers. If you visit, or have visited Venice, then it’s not difficult to understand how the city’s free spirit, romantic atmosphere, and natural beauty inspired so many works of art and led to its prominent role in Europe and beyond. Venice is a work of art in itself, and a stunning example of how an environment can truly influence and inspire people to create, persevere, and prosper.


Staying In Venice: A Brief Guide To Venetian Neighborhoods

Although a relatively small city, Venice, Italy is home to a number of vibrant neighborhoods, each of them with its own character and history. Administratively the historical center of Venice is split into six areas called “sestiere” (which means a “sixth” in Venetian dialect), a tradition that has held up since the 12th century. The present sestieri map dates back to 1711. Besides the six sestieri, Venice actually includes Giudecca, the Lido, Murano, Burano, and a few other islands in the Venetian Lagoon. While staying in Venice’s historic center is expensive, we highly recommend it for anyone who wants to get an authentic experience in Venice and values a chance to get to know the city and its people beyond the museums, the tacky souvenire vendors, and the crowds.

Map of Venice with Landmarks

It is indeed a hard choice of accommodation between the different areas of Venice, each home to its own set of traditions and cultural features. It’s possible, however, to make an educated decision based on various factors that we will help you uncover in this article.

To start off, it is worth noting that while some neighborhoods are more central than others, all have their attractions and advantages, and the entire city can be traversed from East to West in about an hour and a half on foot. The number of residents in Venice’s historical center keeps declining every year and is currently below 60,000. Today for better or worse the city is largely home to businesses and is a hub of tourism activity thanks in part to the huge cruiseships that dock in its port. There are lots of hotels, hostels, B&B’s and rental apartments in all areas of Venice, and those visiting Venice will be pleased to know that the city is largely welcoming and has no “bad” or dangerous areas.

Santa Croce: The Gateway To Venice

Santa Croce Ponte delle Scalzi Venice

Santa Croce takes its name from the church that once stood here but was unfortunately demolished by Napoleon. With the bus terminal at Piazzale Roma, the multi-story parking garages, the so called “people mover” and the ship dock at Stazione Marittima, Santa Croce has established itself as a commuting area of the city and the transportation hub for tourists. This neighborhood of Venice has the most connections to mainland Italy, and is therefore buzzing with activity all day long.

The only bridge that connects Venice to the mainland, Ponte della Libertà, was built on Mussolini’s order in 1933. It connects Santa Croce area of Venice with Mestre for car traffic, which, unlike in the rest of Venice, is partially allowed in this neighborhood, albeit only in a very small part of it – and with strict limitations. However, for those interested in exploring other neighboring towns in addition to Venice by car, while being a a 40-minute walk away from Piazza San Marco, Santa Croce is an excellent choice. Despite its transport links, Santa Croce maintains its identity as authentic Venetian neighborhood with its fair share of bars and restaurants, art galleries, and attractions such as Ca’ Pesaro, a former palazzo hosting International Gallery of Modern Art, and Fondaco dei Turchi, a magnificent palazzo dating from 1225 that was subsequently owned by Dukes of Ferrara before being given to Ottoman merchants for use as a community center and a warehouse, which currently houses the Venetian museum of Natural History.
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What Makes Venice Special? Top Interesting Facts About Italy’s Floating City.

Venice is a historical treasure, a living breathing city that changed very little over the centuries and that boasts an extensive and impressive history. Beyond that, it is a very curious place, the only one of its kind, built entirely on the water, which creates myths and legends, and brings to mind many questions. While tourists from around the world flock to the city to admire the beautiful architecture, the breathtaking canals, and the amazing art-packed churches- few visit the city with any historical insight at hand. For this reason, we’ve compiled answers to questions that you’ve probably had about Venice, or perhaps will have during your visit- in an effort to equip you with information that will help enhance your cultural trip.

The Venice of today is, above all, a brief glimpse into an opulent and elegant time where the economy of the Western world relied on shipping and merchants. The city remains as authentic as possible, and buildings are preserved with the intention of leaving the city in its original glory. As you explore the city, the answers we provide below may help you understand certain conventions, and shed light on certain characteristics of Venice.

1. How and why was Venice founded?

Venice Old Map Of The City
Venice was officially founded, according to historical records, on March 25th of year 421 AD with the opening of its first church, San Giacomo, in the area called Rialto (from Venetian “Rivoalto”, or high shore). The Northeastern corner of Italy was, at the time, suffering from a series of barbarian invasions. The Barbarian invasion was a particularly brutal time for local residents, as the invading clans besieged entire cities and terrorized the population, who had previously lived peacefully under the lawful and orderly Roman Empire.

In fear, these people fled to the practically inaccessible marshlands in the Adriatic part of the modern Veneto region, that in Roman times were populated by people called Veneti. The place became known as Venexia in local Venetian dialect, or Venetiae, in Latin, and eventually transformed into Venice in the English language. These marshlands in shallow Venetian lagoon were impossible for barbarians to navigate and thus provided a reliable shelter for the refugees albeit in a very inhospitable environment. Originally a community of fisherman whose main trade besides fishing was salt, Venice grew as new arrivals from the mainland kept coming uprooted by the new waves of barbarians sweeping Italian lands. Venice was, therefore, a haven for refugees. It was, in time, built with understanding of the necessity of the rule of law, the desire to develop commerce, and the drive to succeed typical for immigrant communities. This eventually led to the well-established legal system, the elected government headed by the Doge, and checks and balances built into the system to avoid corruption. The lack of land further helped Venice avoid the destiny of other European states with their backward feudal systems and ascent of the landed nobility. It was above all a commercial society that flourished on trade and friendly foreign relations. In other words, its political and economic systems were far more advanced than of any of other Western European states at the time, and were even studied carefully by the founding fathers in the U.S. as one of the very few examples of a working democracy, even if imperfect.
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5 Great Movies Filmed In Venice That You Should See

Venice is a wonderfully scenic city, rich with dramatic architecture and a unique culture, a favorite of famous artists and writers, and a place that is unbelievably picturesque and photogenic. For this reason, since the advent of cinema many production companies have chosen the city as a stunning backdrop for a variety of films, and audiences worldwide are able to enjoy the beauty of Venice unfolding alongside dynamic story lines from the comfort of their homes.

Ranging from Hollywood blockbusters such as The Tourist, to cinematic renditions of literary classics such as the Merchant Of Venice, there is no shortage of Venetian-themed movies for you to enjoy. For your convenience, we have compiled a thorough selection of great movies, that beautifully depict Venice and take full advantage of its diverse setting. If you have not seen them all, we highly recommend that you watch them soon.

The Tourist

Venice Boat on Grand Canal

‘The Tourist’ is a thrilling movie, a mix of romance, suspense, and thriller, starring both Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. The film revolves around an American tourist wonderfully portrayed by Johnny Depp, who meets gorgeous Elise played by Angelina Jolie, on a trip to Venice. Frank is heartbroken, and his misery starkly contrasts the beauty of Venice. Meanwhile, Elise deliberately crosses paths with Frank in a mysterious turn of events, that plays out across the narrow alleyways and dark corners of this unique city that is romantic and hauntingly dramatic at once.

The Tourist takes full advantage of all that Venice has to offer. Audiences will grab onto their seats during high-energy boat chases across the canals, delight in the gorgeous actors playing characters crisscrossing the streets of the small city, and enjoy the rare inside looks the interior of Venetian palaces that shine in all their former glory. The movie is set in modern times, but the elegant complexity of the storyline pays tribute to an opulent Venice of the past. This is a must see for movie fans, lovers of Venice and those who value beautiful backdrops to excellent stories.

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Highlights Of The Murano Glass Museum

The Murano Glass Museum is a major tourist attraction on Venetian island of Murano, and one that uniquely represents the rich history of glassmaking present on the small Venetian island. Many tourists wish to visit the museum, and rightly so, as the large venue houses historical artifacts and beautiful displays that are unique to Murano.

There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions open to tourists, and those who purchase tickets are granted admission to the majority of the museum, including any special or seasonal shows. The museum was renovated recently, and the building itself is almost as beautiful as the treasures kept within it. Below, we detail some of the highlights of the Murano Glass Museum, that stand out amongst all of the stunning exhibitions.

Murano Glass Museum Permanent Exposition

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Dale Chihuly – American Vision of Murano Glass

Venice’s longstanding tradition of glassmaking has continued throughout generations, and to this day, the Venetian island of Murano is still internationally renowned for its active involvement in the glassmaking industry. For this reason, artists with an interest in all things glass, will typically flock to Venice- and observe the work of famed Italian artisans who still reside in the stunning city in the Venetian lagoon.

Dale Chihuly is no exception. The American artist, who studied in prestigious institutions across the United States, embarked on a glass art pilgrimage in the late 1960s. After graduating from the Rhode Island Institute of Art, he traveled to Venice, in an effort to explore different glassmaking techniques. During this trip, he worked for the renowned Murano glass company Venini, in their world-renown Venetian factory.

Chihuly Glass Flowers Ceiling
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A Quick Guide To Venetian Cuisine: Know What To Eat In Venice

Venice is a small yet mighty island, detached from mainland Italy, and widely regarded by Italians as an entity of its own. Venetians have their own dialect, their own traditions and their own unique recipes that differ significantly from other regions in Northern Italy.

The main difference between Venetian cuisine and foods from other Italian regions is ingredients. As Venice is an island, with a history of isolation and conflict, the city was often deprived of certain ingredients that mainland Italy had easy access to. For this reason, Venice began their traditions by perusing local ingredients, readily available to humble families. These included fish, seafood, rice, and vegetables.

However, as Venice grew increasingly more wealthy, the city began to incorporate more luxurious ingredients into their recipes. Suddenly, humble and meager meals began to feature exotic ingredients. Venice began to import foods from other regions of the country, as well as other countries entirely, as part of a concerted effort to display their wealth in all available outlets, including through their food. As a result, Venetian cuisine is now regarded as a set of recipes unique to the region, that feature wonderful combinations of flavors and textures.
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Murano Canal

Top 5 Things To See And Do On Murano Island

While Venice is a beautiful and wonderfully diverse city, it’s also rather small. After a number of days spent wondering through the stunning corridors that crisscross the the city and admiring art, you may feel inclined to visit one of the smaller islands that surround Venice, such as Murano, Burano, or Torcello.

Of course we can’t be impartial when it comes to choosing a Venetian island to visit, and we wholeheartedly recommend Murano – the home of the most beautiful glassware in the world and the place to experience true Venetian lifestyle of the bygone era. Murano is a tiny island in the Venetian lagoon, just north of Venice proper. Renowned for its glassmaking tradition, the island boasts a population of 5,000 people, many of whom are direct descendants of famous glassmaking families.

The island is rich with culture and tradition, and was once used as a refuge for Venetian glass-makers, who were forced by governmental officials to leave the city of Venice in the 1291 and establish their furnaces on Murano. For lovers of art, history, fine craftsmanship, or simply for breathtaking views- Murano is definitely a location to consider. here we give you the scoop on the top 5 things to do on Murano island. And, what’s great, you can actually do all of this in one day and still have time left for a nice dinner either right here on Murano or in Venice, a short vaporetto ride away.

Murano Canal

1. Take a Walk Around Town

The island of Murano consists of 7 individual islands linked together by beautiful bridges. While this sounds overwhelming, the whole island actually measures a mere 1 mile, which is easily walkable in 20 minutes.

Much like the city of Venice, Murano has a ‘Canale Grande’ (Grand Canal) that runs down the centre, and separates rows of mirrored buildings. The main and arguably most impressive building on the island is the municipal building, called ‘Palazzo Da Mula’. This dates back to the 13th century, and features a characteristically gothic facade, popular in Venetian architecture. The canals, coupled with the island’s three remaining churches, in addition to the beautiful buildings- are reasons enough to take a walking tour of Murano.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Alfredo Barbini

Murano’s history is made by hundreds of talented and ingenious glass masters. Many of them attained prominence centuries ago, while others are still stunning the world with dazzling creations. Others have collaborated together to evolve the glass-making industry and bring it global fame, which it is still enjoying today. Each and every one of them, however, has contributed invaluably to Murano’s history and beauty, surprising admirers and collectors with new ideas, artistic boldness, and alluring designs. Such is the case of the Barbini family, who has been an important presence in Murano’s history since ages ago, and is still present in today’s picture.

The Barbini family goes back a long way. Their story in the Murano Glass industry can be traced back to the XVI century, when the family name was added to Venice’s Golden Book, a book known for containing the crème de la crème of Venetian noble families and the best glass masters, whose guild received special permission to be in the Book. Members of the Barbini family played active roles in Venice’s history for a long time, be it in politics, commerce, or different areas of glass production. Many of them became famous thanks to their beautiful Venetian mirrors, others thanks to their enamel glass, others still for making majestic chandeliers. Some members of the Barbini family even moved to abroad in order to create decorative glass exclusively for royal houses and the wealthiest foreign families. During the following centuries the Barbini family started counseling other glass masters, such as Pietro Bigaglia, the Briati family, the Bertolini brothers and Benetto Barbaria. All of them in turn went on to make significant contributions to Murano’s glass-blowing innovations and history.
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The Great Murano Glass Masters: Paolo Venini

When talking about Murano’s history in glassmaking, it is natural to find only the best of the best glass masters working on these precious and unique designs. Some of these stories are full of unexpected surprises, stunning beginnings, and eminent success. Such is the case of Venini, one of Italy’s oldest and most renowned glass masters of all times. 

Born in a small town near Milan in 1895, Paolo Venini studied to become a lawyer but would soon change course when he crossed paths with fellow Italian Giacomo Cappellin. In 1921, the two Italian entrepreneurs opened their first glass factory in Murano, naming it Vetri Soffiati Muranesi Cappellin Venini & C. A third associate, Andrea Rioda, would later join the team. The idea was to reopen Rioda’s glass factory and summon back all of the company’s former glassblowers, taking advantage of the firm’s long history and know-how. Unfortunately, their plans did not go accordingly due to Rioda’s departing before the beginning of production. The partnership further dissolved after Cappellin decided to part ways in 1925 in order to launch another firm, taking many glass masters with him along the way. Venini, however, managed to reposition himself as one of Murano’s leading glass masters, renaming his company Venini & C.
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