You would be hard pressed to find a place on planet earth as surreal as the city of Venice, Italy. Built on wooden supports in the middle of the Venetian lagoon in the middle ages, Venice rose to become the wealthiest city in the world and a major world power. Venice controlled merchant ships and the exchange of goods for centuries. If there was money to be made, it went through Venice, which is why the city remains today as a jewel among world cities. Because it’s out in the middle of the lagoon, there are no cars and no wide streets, only small maze-like streets for foot traffic and an intricate web of waterways for the many boats. Venice was a city doomed to be left behind with the advance of modern culture. Today, the city has become a real-life Disneyland of sorts, with an economy based almost entirely on tourism. The city is packed with tourists in the daytime, particularly from the enormous cruise ships that dock and unload tens of thousands of passengers.
It’s true that Venice is indeed sinking, but it had always been sinking back into the lagoon. Most Italians live on the mainland, and without a thriving population of working class people to keep it going, Venice has become a surreal mix of fantastically beautiful decay and indescribable beauty. Having been there a few times, I can say that it is certainly a place you need to visit in your lifetime to see for yourself. Going there is expensive and exhausting, but well worth the hassle. I’ll be adding additional posts in the future on key features of Venice, including St. Marks Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. For now, I highly recommend this great BBC video called Francesco’s Venice. Venice is a city and a history so rich and layered, it is almost impossible to piece it all together. This web series is a great introduction (in 6 parts). Enjoy-