Picturesque facades, elegantly arching bridges and romantic gondola rides along the canals – welcome to Venice. We will tell you everything there is to know about this city, which goes by an array of different nicknames, and ask Venetians for their insiders’ tips.
There are no roads in Venice, but there are more than 400 bridges connecting its car-free islands with one another. Whether you choose to go on foot or by vaporetto – the waterbus – you can get around quickly and conveniently and see the city at its most intense.
The city of bridges.
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge on the Grand Canal. Opened in 1591, it is now one of Venice’s prime tourist attractions. The port city attracts around 33 million visitors every year, with roughly the same number seizing the opportunity to walk across its most famous bridge, which is supported by some 12,000 oak piles.
The floating city.
Built on boggy terrain and supported by piles, Venice is sinking under its own weight at a rate of two millimetres a year. The lagoon city has submerged by 26 centimetres over the last 130 years. The wash of the waves from passing cruise ships is gradually wearing away the structure of the banks, and on top of this there is the “acqua alta”, the exceptional tide peaks that Venice has to deal with several times a year. There are several projects under way to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site, but as things stand there is no prospect of saving it.
Insiders’ tips from Venetians.
The city of masks.
Every year, the Carnival of Venice opens with a costumed Venetian lady, suspended from a wire, floating down into the middle of St. Mark’s Square from the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica. While the locals prefer to escape from Venice at this time of year, countless tourists flock to the city to witness this spectacle. Masks go on sale in the narrow streets and in some places you can even watch these works of art being crafted by hand.
A city of history.
Venice was ravaged by the plague in 1630, wiping out a third of its residents. To give thanks for being spared, the survivors built the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Nowadays, this votive church is regarded as one of Venice’s landmarks and is featured on many a postcard. The most attractive pictures are taken in the evening light from the San Zaccaria ferry terminal or on a romantic stroll over the Accademia Bridge at sunrise.
The city of the Venetians.
When the sun disappears behind the picturesque facades to glorious effect and most of the tourists have already gone – many of them come just for the day – peace and quiet returns to the city. In the evening you might encounter one or two Venetians out in the streets or enjoying a glass of wine, but this is by no means guaranteed these days as there are now more tourists in Venice than locals. It is in moments like these that you can catch a glimpse of the real Venice.