Venice, Italy – Canal Spaghetti (09.05.16)
Arriving in Venice for the first time is a memory that stays with you forever. Whether entering by boat from the Adriatic Sea, or by launch along the Grand Canal, you are immediately swept up into this magical medieval waterway system.
Forget any guidebooks, plays or novels you may have read in preparation. The jaw-dropping scenery, like something out of an oil-painting, blended with the everyday helter-skelter that is the Venice canal system, transports you immediately into a cheesy-grin state of delirium.
My first ever arrival coincided with the morning rush hour: busy boats bobbed in all directions at an orderly, yet business-like pace, slid around corners, past waterfront construction sites and through barely visible gaps as if commuting from Platform 9¾ itself. The feeling of entering a dream world was accentuated as the waterways became narrower and more maze-like. It was impossible to hold on to any sense of direction.
Beautiful buildings dating from 13th to 18th century stand guard like sentry-towers as canal boats, launches, water-taxis and bobbing gondolas play out an everyday scene that could as easily be part of a sci-fi film, as a day in the life of the Republic of Venice.
Water, in Venice, is after all, King.
Winding its way between everything above sea-level, each canal finds it own direction as if part of a giant mess of spaghetti. Canals of all widths disappear in every direction beneath intricate bridges, around corners, and past every nook and cranny.
Glance to the left and you are likely to catch gondoliers hurriedly steering down a dark channel, while to the right, you’ll see a motorised vaporetti (waterbus) steering, spewing out or scooping up its serving of commuters.
Located in the marsh-dominated Venetian lagoons of north east Italy, the city stretches across 117 small islands. At its heart are 150 canals, 400 bridges and a treasure chest of architectural wonders. All designed, built and preserved from bygone years when the city’s maritime power was dominant. Artistic legacies are scattered about like confetti, dating from the Renaissance through to the Third Italian War of Independence.
As for navigation – my advice is to abandon any plans and timings. Throw away the map and just go wherever the canal, boat or bridge takes you.
History surrounds you, and is made accessible by one of the world’s most historic water-traffic corridors of all time. The Grand Canal. Lined with over 170 Fondaco, Venetian-Byzantine, Venetian-Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassic and modern buildings.