Built on 117 islands, Venice has 150 canals, 400 bridges, and exists since 811 A D. The first inhabitants of these islands were Euganei and Venti in the 6th century BC, then came the Romans in the 3rd century B C. By 89 B C the population of the region were granted Roman citizenship. By 421 A D, attempts were made to cerate a city, but Romans weakened by their incessant conquests failed to stop invading Goths in many European regions northern Africa, and Asia.
Over the next few centuries, gradually bridges and the water between them were converted to canals. These canals are the main arteries of the city today. The city has no vehicular traffic except for boats, called vaporeti. They are the buses of Venice, and municipally operated.
The city was incorporated in 811 and by 828 he merchants were influential and wealth enough to transport the bones of San Marco from Alexandria in Egypt to Venice for the consecration of the basilica San Marco on the main piazza. Venice was a city-state with excellent trade connections to the Middle East via Constantinople, later named Istanbul, Alexandria and Jerusalem. Merchants grew rich by trading precious spices, glassware, and manufactured good from the Orient to European states.
They arranged the sale of ships and supplies to the first Crusaders in 1095 AD. The doges (rulers) of Venice were powerful due to the strategic of city’s location, and wealth of the citizens.
By 1171 Venice had established districts for minorities who settled there and for trades people, like boat builders, glass blowers, boat owners and traders.
The major setback occurred in 1348 – 49 when the city was hit by the plague, which decimated the population by half.
The 14th century saw many skirmishes between city-states of Italy namely Genoa, Pisa, Florence, and Siena. By 1380 Venice was strong enough militarily to defeat Genoa in naval battle of epic proportions.
The importance of Venice’s started to fade, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottoman Turks.
Trade was more controlled by the Ottoman Empire and developed through the Balkans. Trieste further north and east became an important trading port for many goods exported from Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland.
By 1846 a rail link was established between the rest of Italy and the city.
Today the city has an aging population of approximately 60 000 versus 300 000 in the 16th century, when the glass manufacturers of Murano and Torcello were producing large quantities of ornamental glassware.
The city is gradually and inexorably sinking into the lagune, but regardless, it has a charm no other city can equal.
Venice has a huge number of churches, the most spectacular of which is the Basilica San Marco at the Piazza San Marco. Today the Piazza id lined with ambulant traders of souvenirs, imitation fashion-handbags, scarves and post cards.
Santa Maria della Salute, a beautiful nut small church, was built in 1630 by Longhena to fulfil a vow after the epidemic plague a few centuries earlier on.
Today, Venice exists through tourism, the giant refinery on the mainland, and the airport.
It is expensive to live in the city, because everything must be distributed manually and/or by boats, and merchants are masters of cheating tourists incapable of figuring how their minds work and the worth of merchandise they offer.
Regardless, this city was declared by the UN World Heritage Site, is well worth a visit, to see the beautiful buildings lining the canals, ride the vaporeti, walk the narrow and crowded streets, the churches, mouth blown ornamental glassware in shops, the Basilica San Marco, the Doge’s Palace located next to it and Piazza San Marco, considered a masterpiece of piazza design by architects past and present.
For those interested, Harry’s Bar, a hangout of Hemingway, offers expensive but expertly mixed and presented drinks. Even Trudeau paid a visit during one of the G 7 meetings he attended in the city. Practically all famous and not-so-famous people who visit Venice drop in at Harry’s to have a drink and look at the autographed pictured of the rich and famous who had a drink before them.
The famous gondolas still transport people, but mostly tourists on sightseeing tours. Venice is a charming city for those who enjoy history, imagination in architecture, city planning, music, museums, jewellery design and churches.
Although “tourist” Venice is expensive, small off-the-beaten-track restaurants offer fine meals at reasonable cost, and small hotels offer affordable and quiet accommodation albeit a few hundred meters from the city centre. If you want to have reasonably priced accommodation try a few hotels in Mestre only 10 minutes away from Venice on the mainland.
Visit Venice before it loses more of its population and becomes even more expensive, I remember paying $ 9.00 for a cup of cappuccino at a café in the Piazza San Marco, in 2002.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.