What Is Venice, Italy, Like Today?
Carnival in Venice
Have You Been To Venice?
If you haven't seen Venice up close, hidden away on purpose in a remote corner of Italy's Adriatic Coast, you've missed a wonder of the world, made by men and women with a lust for life that can't be matched today.
Venice today is marked in every corner by the reminders of its thousand years of history.
Centuries after the first Venetians fled the Italian mainland to escape rampaging invaders from the north, the city build on islands is still a gracious center for art. Reminders of it's once dominant position in the world are easy to find.
Venice is a modern city. Electricity, fine dining and festivals continue, and boutiques offer unique shopping. Cruise ships enter and exit the harbor, and although cars and trains are halted at the city gate, the quiet streets have all the cell phones and bustling pedestrians you'd expect to find in a great city.
No other place in the world like Venice exists. Look around in wonder at a city recreated, once secure, to celebrate wealth, pleasure and beauty, and be amazed that so much is still here for you.
It's what passionate travelers have been doing for centuries.
Venice, Italy, remains a living museum. There is no motorized transit on its streets, plazas and narrow alleys. Canals take the place of streets throughout every part of the lagoon, and people walk everywhere, so quietly you can hear footsteps from our second and third floor balconies.
Venice Italy, As It Is Today
Our local friend treats us to her hometown:
We were lucky to have a good friend who had grown up in Venice and who, after a diplomatic career, has now returned.
We were taken to along streets and into Plazas tourists rarely see, especially that odd breed that zips in and out of this amazing place in a single day.
Gabriella took us along the canal where ambulance boats were docked outside the hospital where her father once worked.
We ate dinner with delicious local wine in a tiny outdoor terrace where the owners had time to stop and visit and actually seemed to tolerate my impossible mangling of their beautiful language.
Wearing and Sharing Venice - Jewelry with Venetian Themes
Rambling in Venice
We visited the most exciting and well-known spaces, as we did on our first visit.
We climbed the Rialto Bridge and lingered to watch the the water traffic flowing back and forth and climbed down the other side to prowl the open air market that runs for blocks.
We drank espresso in Piazza San Marco, the famous stallions overhead ready to march off the cathedral and into battle as necessary.
We walked slowly through the Academia Art Gallery, Disneyland for art lovers, where I saw for the first time one of the most unforgettable frescoes I've ever seen.
Little Mary presents an imaginary scene of the legendary virgin as a young girl boldly approaches the local leaders who await her.
I'm not a Christian and the story itself is probably preposterous, but the art, the art...
Later we trooped through Peggy Guggenheim's contemporary art museum right on the canal.
The Grand Canal is Venice's Main Street - Gondolas and Vaporetti
Main Street in a Water City
The Grand Canal begins near Piazza San Marco in a broad, open channel in the lagoon and curls passed mansions build and once occupied by the wealthiest merchants in Europe.
Because Venice is a water city, the entrances open to the Grand Canal and draw visitors and guests into sumptuously designed entry halls. Smaller, backdoor canals also accommodate commercial and tourist traffic.
Especially during rush hours, the Grand Canal is busy with the ever present gondolas, vaporetti (water buses) and larger tourist boats.
Just like transportation in other cities, the publicly operated vaporetti stop to pick up passengers at regular intervals and the privately operated gondolas, more like taxis, weave in and out, entering from and exiting into canals that run off into the neighborhoods.
Italian Beauty, More to Watch than Gondolas
Gathering to Watch the Regatta
I mentioned our surprising chance to watch the annual regatta from a prime place. We arrived early, were treated to wine and cheese, and then, I passed the time taking some pictures.Much about Italy is beautiful, not the least of which being it's people. Here are some of the people who gathered to lean over the balcony and watch the dressed up gondolas float up toward the Rialto. I took a lot of pictures before, during and after. This and the one that follows were the ones I liked best and which seemed the most casually Venetian.
My Scenes from Venice
A Regatta of Gondolas
The Venice Regatta
A Big Show
I guess I should have expected it, but it never crossed my mind that modern day Venetians would show off their history with a regatta.
This picture is representative of the finery gliding up the Grand Canal.
The really interesting story I couldn't get near enough to get a good shot to tell it with is the emergence of women gondoliers in this, until recently, all male profession.
Several gondolas sporting all female crews drew applause for their aggressive competitiveness as the rowed by.
There were a number of large decorated boats like this one.
What Tourists Don't See - A Normal Venetian Neighborhood
Venice is a place where people live.
We walked all the time, seeing much that we'd never have found on our own or would have gotten lost trying to.
One unforgettable location was a open plaza in the what was the Jewish quarter before the Nazi's deported the residents to camps. Quietly, the survivors posted lists of those who never came back, and they still stand as weathered reminders.
Everywhere, there were reminders that this old city with its impressive history is more than anything else a place where people live ordinary lives as it always have been.
We remember the de Pontes, the Casanovas and the Vivaldis, but it's the names never entered in the histories that are always the soul of any community.
Last updated on September 11, 2014
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