Tag Archives: Venice

Acqua Alta In Venice – Dealing With Venetian Floods

Acqua Alta (high water) is a term used in Venice for the high tide in the Adriatic Sea. The water levels reach the air maximum in the Venetian Lagoon, which in turn causes flooding in Venice. This usually happens outside of the Venetian tourist season, between September and April when the tides are strengthened by seasonal winds called Sirocco and Bora that blow along the Adriatic coast.

Venetian Lagoon is a large elongated body of water around 35 miles long and 6 miles wide, which is separated from Adriatic Sea by a sand bar cut by three passages: Lido, Malamocco, and Chioggia. During high tides the water from the sea comes into the Lagoon via these three passages, raising the Lagoon level, and afterwards it goes back out to the sea. These daily tides clean up Venetian canals allowing the water to circulate, and the city to survive without special sewer systems.

Acqua Alta at San Marco Square in Venice

There is a special scale of acqua alta levels developed just for measuring tides in Venice. At Punta della Dogana, Venice’s entrance to the Lagoon there is a hydrographic station, which regularly takes measurements. The zero point was defined in 1897 when measurements started. Add 31 to 43 inches to that and you get Venetian high tide. 44 to 55 inches above 0 is very high tide. And above 5 inches is extremely high tide.

The worst acqua alta was recorded in November of 1966, with an increase of 76 inches, and was devastating for the city and its inhabitants. While it was a relatively infrequent phenomenon in the nineteenth century, with about 10 instances a year, the frequency and severity of it increased last century to reach about 60 times a year. Some people think that is because Venice is quickly sinking, but this is not accurate. The pilings on which Venice stands sunk 10cm lower in the twentieth century due to the rise of industrial activity in the Lagoon and pumping out of the groundwater, which caused rapid compression of the layers of land on the bottom of the Lagoon, which holds the pilings. Once the government realized how this was affecting the city, groundwater pumping was stopped and now Venice sinks by less than a millimeter a year mostly due to natural geological reasons.

However, a bigger problem for the city is rising ocean levels due to climate change, and it is expected that increased speed of arctic ice melting will bring even more frequent and severe floods. Much scientific, environmental, and architectural thought went into trying to protect the city from this ongoing threat, resulting in much debate and finally in approval of a large scale very ambitious construction project dubbed MOSE (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico or Experimental Electromechanical Module). The design involves 57 retractable floodgates that will be installed at the entrances from the Adriatic Sea into each of the three Lagoon inlets, which would rise once the water levels entering the Lagoon will reach dangerous levels and stop more water from coming in. Began back in 2003, the project has encountered multiple delays and budget issues, and is currently expected to be completed by June 2018.

Acqua Aklta on Venetian Street

The optimists hope that this will mark the end of infamous Venetian floods and the phenomenon of acqua alta and will ultimately prevent the destruction of Venice brought on by frequent inflows of saltwater. The pessimists worry that with the rising sea levels there is a good chance that the floodgates will stay closed for long stretches of time turning Venetian Lagoon into a marshy lake and creating dangerous pollution levels and a potential sanitation hazard in the Lagoon and the city.

Today when acqua alta hits, some lower lying areas of Venice, including its lowest point, piazza San Marco, end up under water and passage through the city becomes difficult. The city combats the issue by installing raised walkways in the most vulnerable areas, but mobility is limited limited to only a few routes. For Venetians life goes on even during most floods, and every Venetian owns a pair of special very tall rain boots, but tourists often opt for a lighter version to brave the watered streets. Produced by company called Goldon, they look like yellow plastic covers which are worn above regular shoes and are light, easy to carry, and surprisingly effective at keeping feet dry and letting you explore the city during acqua alta.

Dealing with flooding in Venice

If you happen to experience acqua alta in Venice, take it in stride. Buy the plastic boot covers or rain boots and continue to enjoy the city’s special ambiance and this unique experience that you will not soon forget.

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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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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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5 Little-Known Attractions To See In Venice

5 Little-Known Attractions In Venice Not To Miss

5 Little-Known Attractions To See In Venice
When it comes to organizing a trip to Venice, the itineraries are full of famous attractions that appear on every travel advice web-site and every must-see list you will ever come across. Among those are The Doge’s palace, and Basilica San Marco, Accademia Gallery and Ca’ Rezzonico, The Campanile and The Astronomical Clock. Hunting for those top attractions, you will stand in lines for hours and run into crowds of tourists who are all hungry to see the same things you came to see. This may leave you aggravated, distressed, and wondering what you may have done better to have more authentic venetian experience. You need not worry – we will let you in on the hidden secrets, the activities that many miss, the attractions that are still relatively quiet, not overrun with tourists, and promise a wonderful authentic experience.

1. Get To Know Venice’s Craftsmanship: Gondola Building Workshop

Gondola Workshop Venice

Get to know one of the few remaining gondola yards in Venice. Just a few steps down the canal near the Accademia Bridge, one can find Venice’s only remaining original gondola-building and maintainance yard, the Squero San Trovaso workshop. Nowadays it works mainly as a maintenance and repair point, but during the 1600’s it was Venice’s busiest production point for the ten thousand gondolas that once traveled along its canals and into the Lagoon. The squero is not open to the public but if you visit during the working hours you can see the work from the outside, and it is a fascinating experience. Each gondola is made out of eight different types of wood, exactly as it was hundreds of years ago, and includes lots of exclusively carved elements. Because gondolas are still crafted in a traditional way, it takes over a month to build one, and it usually can be in service for about 15 years, after which it must be refinished and can last another ten years. There are woodcarving workshops that create various wooden parts for gondolas and are very interesting to visit to see this ancient craft in action. The workshop of Paolo Brandolisio a few steps behind Piazza San Marco is a great one to visit. There are several guided tours for visitors, like the two hour Oltrex tour starting from Riva degli Schiavoni, or the one day experience Venice for Children, that encompasses a whole seminar on gondola making and a tour on vaporetto through the Arsenale and the Naval Museum. After getting to know this craft better, one will never see a gondola the same way again, for they are unique custom made vessels with centuries of history and craftsmanship, and not one is identical to another.

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Travel Tips for Eating Out in Venice: Where To Eat Like A Local

As exquisite, fresh and wholesome as Venetian cuisine may be, it is unfortunate that many travelers report unpleasant experiences of being ripped off or having bland meals when eating out in Venice. Figuring out where to eat in Venice can easily become a tourist trap for eager visitors who go looking for the most stereotypical meals, and in return get low quality dishes at grossly inflated costs. Venetian cuisine dominated by abundance of seafood is not what travelers typically associate with Italy, yet it is incredibly tasty if you happen to run into the right place. Good coffee can absolutely be enjoyed outside of Piazza San Marco’s expensive restaurants, and freshest seafood you ever tasted can be found in many unassuming local eateries called osterie.

The first and best tip is to avoid any “tourist menus” as they have limited food choices, often not of the freshest kind, and dishes that aim to please tourists en masse rather than offer authentic local experience. These kinds of menus in restaurants situated in crowded touristic areas just concentrate on one-time tourist crowds that will most likely never come back, and therefore pay less attention to quality and exclusivity. It is easy to recognize these places: they all have explicit pictures of every dish, waiters in bow ties loudly inviting customers to come in, and frequently no Italians inside.
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Venice Through The Year: The Tourist Guide to Visiting Venice In Any Season

When it comes to planning a trip to Venice, there is a seemingly simple question that needs to be answered first: when is the best time to visit Venice? Needless to say, Venice is always a beautiful place full of infinite charm, yet in different seasons the city can be appreciated in unique ways.Luckily, Venice offers marvelous sights, tourist attractions and joyful festivals throughout the whole year. As it is well known, the summer months are the most expensive when it comes to accommodation and flights, long lines are usual at tourist attractions and the heat in July and August can be rather exhausting. On the other hand, the winter months offer a magical experience, if you are up for romantic albeit chilly walks through the deserted alleys of the city. One thing, however, must be remembered when planning a visit to Venice: all moving around is done by foot, or by taking a ride, most often in vaporetto (Venetian water bus). Continue reading
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Venice Carnival – A Chance to See Venice of the Centuries Past

Carnivals are costumed festivities which bring together the traditions of dress-up, masquerades, colorful fairs, and street performances. Many countries, regions and towns traditionally have held carnivals right before Christian Lent. Translated from Latin, the word Carnival itself actually means “farewell to meat”. While the roots of Christian carnivals go back to the pagan traditions of Roman Empire, the first carnivals associated with Christianity appeared in various European towns around the IX century AD.

The first mention of the Carnival in Venice dates to year 1094 AD. Most likely Venetian Carnival became an annual event after 1162, the year when people gathered in Venice’s St. Mark’s square to celebrate victory in the war with Aquilea by dancing, singing, eating and drinking.

The most famous accessory of the Venetian Carnival is, of course, the mask, so you may be surprised to learn that no masks were actually worn during Carnivals until XIII to XIV century. The creation of an authentic Venetian mask is an ancient and complicated process. The gypsum form is filled with a layer of papier-mache made using a special recipe. The resulting form is set aside to dry, then polished and the holes are cut through for the eyes. A layer of paint is then often used to make the masks look antique. The last stage of mask creation is decorating – a slow and elaborate process with use of acrylic paints, real gold and silver foils, enamel, expensive fabrics, Swarovski crystals, plumes, beads and various other elements limited only by the fantasy and talent of the artist who creates the mask. Continue reading

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The History and Present of Venice Carnival

carnival venice venice carnival carnival in venice venitian carnival

Venetian Carnival, an intriguing mix of gorgeous masquerades, street fairs, high-end balls, and tourist craze set against the beautiful backdrop of Venice, is one of the most famous and highly anticipated events in the world. The Venetian Carnival in its present form has been celebrated since 1979 when Italian government and Venetian civic society decided to revive it as an attempt to re-ignite interest in Venice and its rich traditions. However, the original Venetian Carnival has a long history that dates back to the 12th century, if not earlier, and many of the traditions and glamorous highlights of today’s Carnival come straight from the Middle Ages.

Origins of the Venetian Carnival

Many scholars agree that Venetian Carnival has its roots in Christian tradition and that it has likely evolved as a way for people to indulge in life’s pleasures and have fun in the days before the solemn period of Christian Lent (a time of sorrow and reflection leading up to the Holy Week). One of the theories is that the Italian word “Carnevale” comes from the two Latin words “carne” meaning meat, and “vale” meaning farewell or goodbye, signifying the fact that during Lent people had to fast, avoid temptation, and give up life’s luxuries, in order to concentrate on prayer, reflection, and self-denial.
However, the Carnival’s history likely runs even deeper. Venice was founded by Romans escaping barbarians and built on the remains of crumbling Roman Empire. As such, it has deep roots going all the way back into Roman and even Greek history. Hence, Roman celebration of Saturnalia and Greek Dionysian festival before it are thought to have played a role in Venetians’ desire for a festival that allows people to be free from social norms. Saturnalia in ancient Rome was a time of complete break from normal social order and hierarchical boundaries, when masked slaves and Roman citizens alike celebrated with music, dances, symbolic acts, and orgies. Continue reading

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