MESSAGE – Venice *Videos*
Venice comprises 117 small islands connected by 400 bridges over 150 canals. This water world was the last stop on our month-long tour of Italy, so even though I was a little exhausted, the magic of Venice sparked me right up!
There is – literally – no place on earth like Venice! Here’re my favorite insider tips on exploring the city:
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Peggy Guggenheim Museum. I love modern art and this Peggy Guggenheim collection is one of the best in the world. The palazzo’s garden, filled with sculptures, was equally fascinating. Here I am beside one piece of art:
Can’t see the video? Here’s the link: Erin at Guggenheim
EAT (Tasty Eats) – Venetian Spritz. Venice’s signature drink is a Prosecco-Aperol cocktail, with a splash of soda. I think it also has a dash of bitters. I had several, although I think I was more attracted to the bright orange color than the taste.
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Murano Glass Blowing. In 1291, Venice relegated all its glass blowers to the island of Murano. With Venetian houses made of wood, it seemed smart to relocate the smoldering furnaces off shore, so to speak.
By the 15th century, Murano had built its reputation as the most important glass producer in Europe – and it still maintains this pedigree today. Check out the technique during this glass-blowing demonstration:
Can’t see the video? Here’s the link: Murano Glass Blowing
SHOP (Gotta Have) – Venetian glass isn’t only used for chandeliers, vases, and figurines. It’s also used to fashion one-of-a –kind jewelry pieces. Here’s my mom Sam wearing one of her four new pieces. Me? I didn’t indulge. (This time anyway…)
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Grand Canal Tour. The Grand Canal, Venice’s main waterway, stretches 3.5 kilometers (about 5 miles). There are several ways to explore the Grand Canal – depending on your budget:
- Vaporettos: These public barges are the transport of choice for most and can take you from the Piazzale Roma train station to Piazza San Marco. A one way ride takes at least 45 minutes and affords you an up-close view of the palazzos lining the Grand Canal. The bonus – no one checks your ticket, so most ride for free.
- Water Taxis: We needed to take a water taxi to the airport in the early a.m. The up-shot was a speedboat ride during sunrise. We made it to the airport in record time, got to see the sun emerge a screaming hot red and didn’t even get wet.
- Gondolas: Gondolas have been navigating the Grand Canal since the 11th century. Up until the 19th century, there used to be more than 10,000 in operation, but today there are only about 500.
All are painted black, due to government decree, in an effort to stifle fierce competition among owners. The boats are made from 280 pieces of wood and the oars are made of beechwood. A 40-minute ride will set you back about $120. Singing is extra.
GIVE (Greatest Need) – Rising Water Levels. Venice is built on wood pilings driven about 100 feet into the silt. Amazingly, the islands’ marble palaces are still standing on these wooden stills built nearly 1,000 years ago. The city’s constantly changing water levels, however, are placing the very foundation of Venice in danger.
The Adriatic Sea that pushes the water into the Venice lagoon is linked to the city’s canal network and is causing periods of sever flooding, with water levels routinely rising above the impermeable base of most buildings and palaces. The result is crumbling drainage and sewage networks throughout the city.
During periods of extensive flooding, 14% of public walkways are inundated. Sever flooding occurred 18 times in 2010 (the worst year on record). Extreme flooding occurs roughly 5 times per decade and floods more than 55% of the public spaces and walkways, plus a large number of buildings.
Mobile barriers to defend the islands of Venice from flooding are scheduled to become operational in 2014. Given today’s frequent high water levels, these mobile barriers would have to close almost daily to save the city’s buildings from crumbling at an even greater rate.
For more information on the damage caused by rising water levels in Venice, check out www.VeniceInPeril.com
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Concert Orchestra. Interpreti Veneziani is a string orchestra that gives nightly concerts at the Chiesa San Vidal (a church on San Marco). We got to hear them perform Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The acoustics in the church were excellent and the music was so lovely. The musicians thoroughly seemed to be enjoying themselves as well, which made the performance all the more fun.
Venice is something special — romantic and friendly and awe-provoking. Be sure and plan your visit soon so you can beat the continually rising tide of tourism and flood waters!