Friday, April 27, 2012

Venice, Italy ~ Canals ~ Vaporettos ~ Gondolas

Venice is a fascinating city.  It is surrounded by water and the main ‘roads’ are canals that can only be travelled by boat, there are no cars in the city.  This sets Venice apart from any other and offers a stay that may be considered a visit back in time.  If you choose not to walk the many streets or walkways that are for pedestrian traffic only, then you would get around the city by boat and of those there are many.

Canals of Venice, Italy
Venice sits on what was once a swampy area and the base of it consists mainly of stone and pine logs driven deep into the mud.  The city of Venice is known to be sinking but that is happening very slowly and although considered at a critical point in time, there is no immediate remedy to the problem, nor will it disappear. 
Saltwater erosion shows on the buildings

The buildings are old and time shows on them. When travelling the canals one can see the erosion done to the buildings by the water as the canal level changes with the tide. The sea air is causing erosion as well, but it all only adds to the fascination of this city.  It just would not be the same with a modern look to anything.
A quiet early morning canal

The population of Venice has steadily dropped over the years to be around 60,000 permanent residents at this point.  The city also gets that many daily tourists visiting the city so it is a busy place to be, especially during the high tourist seasons.
Vaporetto on the Grand Canal

The vaporetto is the water buses that we used for our transportation when we weren’t walking during our visit to Venice.  We bought a pass on our first morning that would allow us to get on and off for the next 24 hours.  We paid 18 euro each and toured every canal that we could during that time and some more than once.  We would be out morning, afternoon and evening, being part of the crowds but enjoying the sights at all times of the day. 
Entrance doors from canal

Many homes have canal access so they park their boats outside that entrance.  They would also have another access to the street adjacent, too, but these canal doorways are seen all down the canals.  Some hotels and restaurants have canal access, too, but that would not be their only access, just one that makes it look like it came out of the movies. 
Wooden walkways for flooding weather

High tide season can cause some havoc for visitors at that time as well as for the local Venetians.   The rates would likely be a bit lower but they do get flooding throughout the city which has an average elevation of one metre (39”).  Some places are worse than others, but the solution for those needing to get around the city have been to put elevated walkways throughout Venice.  
Gondolas wait for busier times

The gondola has been around for over 500 years with the gondoliers like a small fraternity and great ambassadors for the city of Venice.  They dress the same way they always have and the gondolas have been painted black ever since that law was passed in 1562.  The gondola is built with over 280 pieces of eight different kinds of wood, they are 11 meters (35’) long and weight 600 kg (1300 lbs) and have a flat base allowing them to be maneuvered without a rudder.  The rates are controlled so you will pay the same with everyone.
Evening sun on the Grand Canal

One would not visit Venice without going on a gondola ride… would they?  I sure hope not, that was a highlight for us during our three day visit.  I could see a gondolier on the bridge outside our bedroom window looking for some customers so it was time for our special ride.  After a few moments of ‘interviewing’ and confirming the price we went out for an hour with Luca, our singing gondolier who was full of great information.  It cost us 100 euro for the four of us and well worth it.  I got one of my favorite photos of Venice with the setting sun from the gondolier as we travelled the Grand Canal.
Santa Maria delle Salute

The Santa Maria delle Salute translated means St. Mary of Good Health and was built in thanks at the end of the plague in 1630 that took the lives of 80,000 Venetians.  That is more than today’s population of the city.  A 26 yr old Baldassare Longhena, a top Italian sculptor and architect won the commission to design this crown but it took 50 years so wasn’t completed until just before he died.

The history of this city is endless and the architecture shares a big part of that but it seems to have so much more. Venice is a very special place and I have more of our visit to share with you.
Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails