Finding the real Venice
Finding the real venice The jewel of the Adriatic, a mythical floating city that has long inspired artists and fascinated travelers. However, Venice is under threat. It was born on the sea, grew rich and powerful from the sea, and now it’s at risk of being swallowed by the sea.
We’re here exploring Venice with Visa who’ve recently launched their Visa for Venice program to promote responsible tourism in one of the world’s greatest cities. To show you what’s at stake, we’re taking you deep into the story of Venice.
Andiamo viaggiatori. How does a city as magnificent as Venice ever come to be? Of all the places in the world you could build a city, why choose the middle of a lagoon? The answer begins here on Torcello, one of a hundred and eighteen islands in the Venetian Lagoon. Around 1500 years ago, after the fall of the Roman Empire, mainland Italy was a power vacuum with marauding Germanic tribes burning, looting, and killing everyone in their path.
Locals on the mainland had two choices: flee or die. Around 600 AD refugees from mainland Italy started to arrive here and settle amongst the local fishing villages. They were protected from danger from an impenetrable moat, the lagoon. This island (Venice Italy flooding),Torcello, was the first place that they settled driving large wooden pilings into the mud to elevate their shelters from the tidal waters, a system that required ingenuity, tenacity, and cooperation.
This is Saint Mark’s Square, the heart of cultural, religious, and political life here in Venice. Behind me is the Doge’s Palace where Venice was ruled for centuries. “Doge” means duke in Venetian. In 697 the Venetians, all the people of the lagoon, banded together to elect their first “doge,” and the doge’s would rule for 1100 years, helping Venice become a maritime power in the eastern Mediterranean and last longer than any other republic in history (venice italy).
things to do in Venice
This is Saint Mark’s Square, named after the patron saint of the city, Saint Mark. But Saint Mark wasn’t always in Venice. His remains were actually in Alexandria in Egypt until 828 when a group of local merchants hatched a plan to relocate his remains to the city of Venice.
St. Mark’s remains were just one of many artifacts looted from the Near East and brought here to Venice to showcase its newfound power and status. If you’ve heard of Venice, then chances are you’ve heard of Rialto, the largest bridge spanning the Grand Canal and connecting to Sestieri of San Marco and San Polo, the two namesakes of Venice’s most famous son: Marco Polo. Marco…… Polo… Rialto is the commercial and financial heart of Venice. When ships would come here to trade, they would be in quarantine for 40 days just off the island.
Then they’d be admitted past the guards. They’d sail by St.Mark’s Square up the canal and they would dock at Rialto to unload their goods in warehouses known as “fondaco.” Venice prospered because of its strategic location on the Adriatic, but in order to protect that lucrative advantage that they had, they had to build a navy, and they did so here at the “arsenale,” which means armory in Italian.
The “arsenale” was like the Area 51 of the Middle Ages, a top-secret, state-run shipyard building the finest military vessels of the era at a rate of almost one per day, which in those days was unheard of. It was like Industrial Era production efficiency in the Middle Ages allowing them to project their military all the way far east of the Mediterranean. Salute. Salute. Rounding out the moment with the classic Venice tradition, “cicchetti.” It’s kind of like Venetian tapas, glass of wine, small bites before dinner on the canal. Yep.
Life is good We are here at Vino Vero. It’s a beautiful little wine bar, and we have a nice selection of traditional cicchetti. It looks great. And you know, it’s a good place to reflect on Venice so far. I think Venice brings people from all over the world to try to get a taste of the Venice lifestyle. And sitting here on this canal, glass of wine, beautiful little cicchetti in front of us, I can see why. It makes sense. It’s very appealing.
Venice first started becoming popular in the 1800s/ 1700s with the Grand Tour.. Byron, Henry James, these writers would come here and they wrote about this place. People have been coming for a while. But there’s a lot of hype around the city but there’s a lot of substance. Looking at the audacity that it would take to even think about building a city in this environment. Not just like a city, but there’s a word for it, a thalassocracy, like a maritime empire.
This is like the definition. You never get to use that word, but here in Venice, it’s been used, thalassocracy. This is what this is. It’s like literally a city that ruled half of the Mediterranean and grew so rich from doing it. And I think just getting a view of what this place was before. Seeing the lagoon, seeing the marshy land that it was built upon and then taking a look at the buildings that are just so big, so elaborate, so beautiful. This is a place that humanity should treasure, and it’s a place that deserves to be preserved. Here’s to Venice.
I think we should try these cicchetti. Some of you might have seen photos of this bookstore on Instagram, and these photos have been popular because it’s so unusual to see books sitting in bathtubs. It’s until you understand the situation here in Venice on how the” acqua alta” or rising waters threatens the entire future of the city that we as travelers have come to appreciate. There’s something romantic about bookstores, just period..
history of Venice
There’s something about a paper book that will always be special, and there’s something especially romantic about putting those books out day after day, even as rising waters threaten to destroy them. I think it takes a certain amount of romanticism, but also it’s just a certain amount of love for what there is here.
And I think that’s why this is so representative of the spirit here in Venice that knows what there is of value here and really wants to do what they can to not just preserve it but continue to put it at the forefront of their city. Well, it’s time to eat, and we are at Osteria Anice Stellato in Cannareggio. We’re here with Andre who is going to tell us a little bit about life in Venice, but first, cheers.
Salute. This is one of my favorite places in Venice. All their focus is on what’s seasonal, local, fresh… like trying to reinvent the Venetian tradition with a little bit of innovation. You got to taste. It’s wonderful.
Coming out here, it feels so different from San Marco and from the center of Venice. Is this what life in Venice was like? The life we love is this one. We Venetians tend to go very little right now to San Marco, to Rialto because the mass tourism is having an impact.
As Venetians we struggle a lot to keep this that you are seeing and enjoying alive. The challenge that we have now is to preserve this for the next generation, not as a touristic destination, not as a brand, but as a city where people live and where people can enjoy keeping this place alive.
You are doing one right here by coming in a place where you can really taste Venice by starting to feel the city on a slower pace. That’s what I noticed. It’s just so quiet. It’s so quiet here, and it really is just the exact opposite of the hustle and bustle of Rialto Bridge and the Grand Canal. You come out here and it almost feels like time travel, and noticing the rhythm of life here, that’s for me the best takeaway from any visit to Venice.
I think it’s time for us to eat some local foods. Mangiamo! Buon appetito. Grazie. To experience why Venice is called La Serenissima, the most serene, we took to the water with Pietro from Venice on Board, a Venetian non profit dedicated to preserving the traditional style of Venetian rowing and Vela al Terzo, a particular sailing style, which sadly is becoming less and less common in the modern era. My name is Piero Dri. We are in Venice in Cannaregio, and this is my workshop where I make oars and oarlocks for Venetian boats.
I am an oar maker. Today we are four active workshops and five people. The environment here in the Venice lagoon is very, very particular and the average depth of the water is very low. Venetians must invent something to survive in this strange place now. So everything in Venice was based on rowing. I am graduated in the astronomy part of a university, and I decided to start to learn this particular work because I needed to to change and to come back to my passion- that’s rowing and wood together. If I want to live here, I have to do something in Venice and for Venice, okay, not using Venice.
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I love it because I can put together especially with the forcola the artistical point of view with the technical with the functional one. So I feel free and precise at the same time. This has been an incredible experience exploring Venice, a city that I thought I knew. Just goes to show that we can always learn something new, especially with local guides. I think this is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in Europe, seeing this iconic city in a different light.
Our video started off talking about Venice’s relations to sea, first as a means of protection from armies then a way of getting wealth, and finally now as a potential threat to the city’s future. But I think that equally important is our own behaviors as tourists, which is why responsible tourism is so important. The way that we interact with the city is extremely important. I encourage you to travel consciously and to treat this place as if it were your own home.
And a huge shout out to Visa for helping make this video possible, but also for creating the Visa for Venice Fund, taking a step in the right direction towards sustainable tourism and thinking about preserving this place for future generations.