You don’t need to get your feet wet to explore Italy’s iconic canal-filled city


Posted by: Paul G.


Venice, Italian Venezia, is a city in northern Italy that serves as the capital of both the Venezia province and the Veneto region. It was the capital of a maritime republic and was initially located on an island. It was the most important seaport in late medieval Europe, as well as the continent's commercial and cultural conduit to Asia. In terms of ecology, architecture, and history, Venice is unlike any other city. It is still an important Italian port in the northern Adriatic Sea, including one of the the world's oldest tourist and cultural centres.

The city has had an unequaled place in the Western imagination ever since fall of the Venetian republic in 1797, and has been constantly portrayed in prose and verse. The incandescent vision of magnificent marbled and frescoed palaces, bell towers, and domes reflected in the glittering waters of the lagoon beneath a blue Adriatic sky has been painted, photographed, and filmed to the point that the genuine city is impossible to identify from its romantic portrayals. When a tourist arrives in Venice, he or she is whisked into another world, one whose ambiance and beauty are unparalleled.

Today, Venice is acknowledged as part of humanity's cultural and architectural heritage, an appropriate position for a city whose thousand-year economic and political independence was supported by its role in world trade. The city's location on islands has limited modern suburban expansion beyond the historic centre, its framework of canals and narrow streets has prevented car intrusion; and its unparalleled wealth of fine buildings and monuments dating from the period of commercial dominance has ensured a keen and nearly universal desire for sensitive conservation. This concern for preservation today extends not just to the city's monuments, but also to the city itself, since rising sea levels and sinking of the land on which Venice is built threatens the city's continued survival in its current form. In 1987, Venice and its lagoon were classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Canal boats, bridges and footpaths

The gondola is the most well-known mode of transportation on Venice's canals. There are just a few hundred of these one-of-a-kind, keelless boats extant today, and they have long been outnumbered by other watercraft. However, their exquisite, sleek design and dazzling black lacquer have made them a Venice icon. Many writers have praised Venice's romance via gondola, and many tourists are still eager to pay large amounts to be rowed along the canals at dusk to the singing of a gondolier. However, it has been many years since gondoliers could recite lyrics from Italian authors such as Ariosto or Tasso while navigating the lesser canals' abrupt bends.A few gondolas still function as ferries over the Grand Canal, but the cost of upkeep makes their demise inevitable.

The waterways are crowded with numerous motorised boats. They range from vaporetti, which are public water buses operated by the municipal transportation system, to private motor-launch taxis. Other specialised vessels, such as fruit and vegetable barges, rubbish barges, ambulance and police launches. Boats hauling tourists' luggage add to an ever colourful and diverse river landscape.

Venice is a great place to walk. Cars are not permitted in the city, save in the excellent parking areas in Rome Square and on the Lido. With the risk of numerous diversions and dead ends, one may walk to any location in Venice—along the canal banks, on the paved streets, through the neighbourhood squares, and across the 400 or so canal bridges. Many of the ancient arched marble bridges survive, although in the nineteenth century, wrought iron buildings replaced many of the old bridges.

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