Venice, the Floa­ting Ci­ty

So­me in­for­ma­tion and in­va­lua­ble tips to ex­pe­rien­ce the be­st that this ma­gi­cal ci­ty on wa­ter has to of­fer. By Si­mo­na P. K. Daviddi

Where Venice - - Essentials -

Ita­lians (at lea­st ma­ny of them), may al­rea­dy know that Venice… ac­tual­ly floa­ts! Un­li­ke Am­ster­dam or Saint Pe­ter­sburg, it is not ju­st fur­ro­wed by ca­nals, bor­de­red by roads and pa­ve­men­ts. In Venice, ca­nals are the on­ly avai­la­ble com­mu­ni­ca­tion rou­te, bea­ring in mind that part of the ci­ty ex­tends over a han­d­ful of beau­ti­ful islands that are scat­te­red across the La­goon. For this rea­son, the la­goon ci­ty can on­ly be cros­sed on foot or by boat. Cars, mo­tor­bi­kes, bi­cy­cles and even rol­ler ska­tes are stric­tly for­bid­den. But this is not all. At ti­mes Venice may find itself... un­der wa­ter! The ac­qua al­ta phe­no­me­non – the re­sult of hea­vy rain­fall and hi­gh ti­des - can cau­se the wa­ter le­vel to ri­se by as mu­ch as a me­ter, for­cing eve­ryo­ne to walk on rai­sed plank wal­k­ways, or don rain boo­ts (ma­ny shops, in­clu­ding to­bac­co­nists, sell di­spo­sa­ble ones) in or­der to cross the ci­ty's floo­ded cal­li, cam­piel­li and sa­li­za­de. Cal­li, cam­piel­li and sa­li­za­de are Ve­ne­tian words used to iden­ti­fy stree­ts, squa­res and al­leys whi­le se­stie­ri is the lo­cal word in­di­ca­ting the six di­stric­ts the ci­ty is di­vi­ded in­to: San Marco, Dor­so­du­ro, Can­na­re­gio, San­ta Cro­ce, San Po­lo and Ca­stel­lo. This di­vi­sion dates back to the 12th cen­tu­ry and al­so in­clu­des areas su­ch as La Giu­dec­ca, the Island of San Giorgio Mag­gio­re (San Marco) and the Island of San Mi­che­le, ho­me to the ci­ty's ce­me­te­ry (Ca­stel­lo).

Street num­bers in ea­ch se­stie­re start from 1 and of­ten rea­ch four fi­gu­res, for exam­ple, one of the la­st num­bers of the se­stie­re of Ca­stel­lo is 7,000.

You need to learn them if you want to find your way through the spec­ta­cu­lar, ma­ze-li­ke hi­sto­ric cen­tre. Venice al­so has its own net­work of pu­blic... and pri­va­te trans­por­ta­tion: its va­po­ret­ti, real wa­ter­bu­ses, are the mo­st po­pu­lar craft used by lo­cals, whi­ch is why they are of­ten ve­ry cro­w­ded du­ring peak hours. The­se en­gi­ne­po­we­red wa­ter ta­xis are able to whiz across the la­goon in a heart­beat, but for tho­se who pre­fer a unique, in­cre­di­bly ro­man­tic ex­pe­rien­ce, the fa­mous, di­stinc­ti­ve gon­do­la is an ab­so­lu­te mu­st. This ele­gant, black, one-oa­red ro­wing boat drif­ts gen­tly across the wa­ter, whi­le its gon­do­lier sings an en­ti­re re­per­toi­re of tra­di­tio­nal Ve­ne­tian folk songs. It goes wi­thout say­ing that the wa­ters of the ca­nals are not sui­ta­ble for swim­ming, and their banks are of­ten slip­pe­ry. Be ca­re­ful not to be so fo­cu­sed on your sel­fie stick that you walk in­to a canal be­cau­se you might be in for so­me ra­ther un­plea­sant sur­pri­ses!

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