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Last updated : Nov 2009
Venice Travel Guide
Venice Travel Guide and Venice Travel Information - TravelPuppy.com
'Gondola & Canal'

is a city that has been dying on its feet for years, sinking inexorably into the lagoon and that, ironically, for centuries was its natural protection against potential invaders.

After many years of its citizens having to endure flooded basements, wear wellies to navigate its waterlogged streets during acqua alta (flood tides) and chronic damage to some of its most impressive buildings, finally something is being done to save La Serenissima (The Divine Republic).

In 2003, work on the long delayed ‘Moses’ flood gates, designed to control water flow between the Gulf of Venice and the lagoon, finally began. Environmentalists have complained that the 78 hollow sea gates may irrevocably alter the ecological balance of the lagoon, but the city’s citizens are more concerned about easing their aquatic travails. As well as the sea gates, many canals have been dammed for repairs, a forest of scaffolding has spread across all districts and cranes now compete for attention with church spires on the Venetian skyline.

The Divine Republic’s beauty still manages to shine through, however. Venice is still one of the world’s most thoroughly unique destinations, a city that inspires even the most jaded of travellers. Quite simply, La Serenissima is unlike anywhere else on the planet, with a collage of 116 islands connected by 409 bridges, where cars are banned and everyone, including postmen and the police, go by boat. History is writ large in this northeastern Italian city and when visitors ease through the morning mists, on an empty canal with grandiose buildings rising up on all sides, it is easy to slip back through the centuries, to the time of the Doges – the omnipotent rulers, whose influence spread well beyond the Venetian Lagoon. Venice then was an exotic melting pot of East and West, where traders and travellers, including Marco Polo, breezed in and out, peddling their silk and spices. Venice under the Doges was a land of unimaginable wealth – riches that were spent wisely in crafting some of Europe’s most memorable buildings, from the imposing Doges’ Palace itself through to the grand architecture of St Mark’s Square, famously described by Napoleon as the ‘drawing room of Europe’.

Away from the main tourist areas, another Venice appears, with narrow canals, women hanging out their washing and small osterias (bars) where locals, for once, outnumber tourists. It is in the intense heat of a Mediterranean summer that the city can just get too much and the tourist congregations too large. Many savvy visitors are now choosing to turn up out of season, in the colder months, when swirls of mist and frosty winds descend on the canals. At this time, the beauty of this unique city emerges through quintessential Venetian experiences, such as getting off a vaporetto at a random stop and ambling down a deserted canal, sniffing out an unheralded trattoria or bouncing across the Venetian Lagoon after a Bellini at Harry’s Bar, en route to dinner at the Hotel Cipriani. Perhaps the last word on Venice should be left to one of her most illustrious patrons, Henry James: ‘Dear old Venice has lost her complexion, her figure, her reputation, her self-respect; and yet, with it all, has so puzzlingly not lost a shred of her distinction.’
Useful travel links
Tourist Information Official website for Venice Tourism