Do you know daytime population of Venice is double of it’s night-time population. 🙂
Probably, this must be the only place in the world like this. And looking at the pictures, you would know why is it so. Venice is a beautiful amalgamation of hundreds of small mini-islands which are connected only by small canals. A unique thing about Venice is that, there are no vehicles allowed on streets. So it’s either walk or take a boat. Streets of Venice are brimming with tourists from all over the globe, all year round. As Venice is extremely expensive, most of the tourists stay in the nearby mainland town of Mestre and come to visit Venice only during the day.
A Living Museum
Along with the scores of tourist, we also reached from Mestre to Venice, and it seems like it’s nothing our regular modern cities. Except bus stop, train station and tourist crowds, everything else seems to be hundreds of years old. If you look at the rustic look of buildings there, it would feel like you’ve 400 years back in history. Walking in the streets of Venice feels like being in a living museum. You would be hard pressed to find a building without magnificent paintings or ornamental windows and doors. All these artworks have stood the test of time, and still look as glorious as they would have been 100 years ago. These buildings are the silent teachers guiding us how to preserve our heritage.
An Engineering Marvel
Venetian buildings are built on wooden foundations, and yet they are unbelievably strong to have survived over 500 years. This is indeed nothing short of an engineering marvel. Being a curious soul, I did a short wikipedia search. The buildings are built on super long wooden piles driven very very deep into the soil reaching hardest parts of ground enabling them to sustain the weight. Also, the lagoon waters carry large amount of silt and soil which has been getting blasted on wooden piles for centuries. The wood kept absorbing these sediments, and got hardened to a point where it is practically stone. However rising sea levels have now started to pose newer risks and challenges to this marvelous city.
Fun with Caution in the Streets
We got down from the bus at Piazzale Roma bus terminus, and headed towards the iconic 900 years old Rialto bridge. The best way to explore ‘real’ Venice is to just get lost in it’s narrow, winding streets hosting colorful local markets. But you should keep in mind that streets of Venice are like a real life game of maze, where all streets look the same and it’s very easy to get lost. Also, like any other popular tourist place, Venice is no stranger to tourist traps and petty thefts. While our hotel had already made us aware of this, we found ourselves in one such situation. We (my wife and I) walked past Rialto bridge, exploring the smaller streets enjoying a pleasant afternoon, completely oblivious of our surroundings. Suddenly we realized that it was getting quite dark, shops were getting closed, and we were in a lane with no other soul in sight. A young man wearing a cap and hoodie started following us. We ignored him while looking for our way back to main canal. But we couldn’t find our way back and kept going in circles. And that guy kept following us turn by turn, to the point that it was impossible to ignore. We paced faster, almost running, trying to loose him, but he kept following us for almost 10 mins. Luckily we reached a street where there was a restaurant open with some people standing outside. We stopped there with other people, and that guy then walked past us. From there, a friendly local guy clearly explained us the way to go back to main canal. After waiting there for about 10-15 min, we walked back to Rialto bridge. Lesson learnt: after Sunset, either you should be near the main canal, or you should know where you are and how to get back.
Romance is in the air
It’s hard to miss the feeling of a romantic gondola ride in the canals of Venice. In the evening, there’s beautiful lighting all along the main canal, reflecting in the water like twinkling stars. Standing on the Rialto bridge, looking at the tourist shops and restaurants with colorful lighting, feeling the cool breeze will fill your heart with love.
On our second day in Venice, we took a boat out of Venice, playing with the waves in Adriatic Sea. We went around exploring the island of Murano, which is famous for glass artworks. Nearby island of Burano is quite famous for it’s brightly colored houses along the canals. For those, who want to avoid the crowds of Venice, these are slightly better choices to spend some quality time.
It’s Carnival Time
Such is the charm of this glorious city, that I happened to visit there a second time, and this time during the Venice Carnival. Carnival of Venice is held every year in February, and is probably the busiest time of the year there. The festival is world-famous for its elaborate masks. I could see both tourists and local people wearing amazingly artistic masks and costumes, ranging from simple small masks to bold and beautiful full length designer costumes, to outright outrageous works of art. The carnival is the city’s celebration of culture bringing best of art world to real life.
So this was the tale of our experiences in this magical city.
Do you also want to be lost in the streets of Venice?