Venice, alongside with Paris, is probably the most romantic city in the world. Well, at least for those who are in love. But what is not the opinion of a group, the very true fact about Venice is that Venice is beautiful and charming any time of the year.
It’s a place of a billion interesting stories to tell. No matter if you were in Venice or if you are planning to go there soon or sometimes in the future, here are some of Venice facts and stories you’ll definitely find interesting.
Bridges of Venice
- Venice is known for its bridges. There are 417 bridges in Venice and 72 of those are private.
- Bridges in Venice usually don’t have steps on them since up until 16th century many people were moving around on a horseback.
- Bridge of Sighs was built to connect the old prison in Doge’s Palace with the new one across the river. One of the rare people escaping this prison was famous lover Giacomo Casanova.
- According to Venetian tradition, the couple riding in gondola should kiss under each bridge and they will stay in love forever.
- There are 3 major bridges across the Grand Canal – Accademia, Rialto and Scalzi. There is a fourth one, just a few years old. What is interesting about that one is that it already begins to show signs of decay, unlike the centuries old ones.
Streets of Venice
- Venice has one of the narrowest streets in the world. Calletta, or Ramo Varisco street, is only 53 cm wide. Canals were the main communication routes, that’s why main entrances in old buildings were always on the canal side. They didn’t worry much about space between buildings on land, that’s why Venetian streets are often narrow, sometimes weird and without logic.
- It’s almost impossible to find an address in Venice. Houses in Venice are numbered according to the districts, not the streets. That is confusing even for a postmen there. The easiest way for orientation is to look the proximity of some monument, shop or famous building.
Gondolas of Venice
- One of the most recognizable symbols of Venice are gondolas. Not everyone thinks about things like how they are made while enjoying their ride, but that is actually an interesting story: each gondola is made of eight different types of wood. Left side is bigger than the right one for 24 centimeters (almost a feet), and the parts of gondolas are symbols of some parts of Venice – front part represents six city zones, back part represents island Guideka, and the central part represents famous Rialto bridge.
- There are about 350 gondolas and 400 gondolieri in the city of Venice.
- On average, gondola is 11 meters long and it weights almost 600 kilos.
- Until recently, Venice didn’t have female gondoliers. Venice got its first female gondolier in 2010.
Carnivals and Masks of Venice
- During Carnival, laws prohibiting wearing of expensive lace were suspended.
- Every year 18 million tourists visit Venice. That’s, on average, around 50 thousand people per day. The peak time is during the carnival with more than three million visitors.
- In 1608 Council of Ten approved wearing masks only during the carnival. The ones who would broke the law were heavily punished, from two years in prison to public beating and binding to the pillar of shame.
- There are three types of masks: bauta, moretta i larva. Bauta usually completely covers face, doesn’t have mouth hole and it has a lot of gilt. Sometimes it covers only upper parts of face so that you can talk, eat and drink, but it still hides the identity. Moretta is oval mask in black velvet and was worn by women of all social classes, usually during the visits to the monastery. Larva is usually white and is worn with the hat and the cloak.
- Acqua alta, or higher water, happens when tide is 9 cm above normal height. It mostly happens as a result of an interaction between Sirocco and tides (Sirocco is a warm wind blowing from north Africa).
- Acqua alta is a big problem to the Venetians, but tourists usually find it interesting and picturesque.
- Venecia tries to fight back to the acqua alta. There is a big engineering project called Mose that they hope will be the solution of this issue. It is a system of big movable barriers able to lift up when tides exceed a certain level. That will prevent water from flooding the town.
Canals of Venice
- There are 177 canals in Venice.
- The S-shaped Grand Canal is the biggest canal in Venice and it splits the city in two.
- There are over 170 buildings that make the line of the Grand Canal.
- The canals were the main routes of communication in Venice. That is why the main gates of the houses are always on a side of canals.
Architecture of Venice
- There are over 450 palaces (palazzi) in Venice.
- Buildings and palaces in Venice are built in a mixture of styles: Byzantine, Baroque, Gothic etc.
- There are about 7000 chimneys in Venice, built in over 10 different styles and shapes.
- The famous San Marco bell tower, or campanile, was built in the 12th century and collapsed in 1902. The tower was rebuilt to be exactly the same as the previous one. It is 98,6 metres tall, which makes it fifth tallest bell tower in Italy. Some say that the best view of Venice is from the tower.
- There are millions of wooden piles under the Venice lagoon.
- Venice was not built directly on the surface of the islands, buildings are supported by wooden platforms.
- Pine wood piles were driven from the Alps.
- Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year.
Geography of Venice
- Venice is divided into six districts.
- There are 118 islands, 416 bridges, 177 canals and 127 squares in Venice.
- The Venice lagoon is 15 meters deep at its deepest point.
Depopulation of Venice
- Population of Venice decreased from over 120,000 to 60,000 in the last 50 years.
- Some experts say that Venice could be a ghost town by 2030. It would be populated only by tourists that would come at the morning and leave in the evening, something like people do in a theme park.
- The first great escape was in 1966 when serious flood hit Venice.
- The progressive sinking of the town also makes people move out.
- Acqua alta is interesting to tourists, but makes Venetians move out from the town.
- Maintaining old houses is very expensive, and it’s easier to some to move out than to stay in Venice.
History of Venice
- Venice is more than 1500 years old. It dates back to the mid 400.
- The Republic of Venice was very powerful. It held the biggest power during 1300s to 1500s.
Other Facts about Venice
- The sea/lagoon is safe for swimming.
- Around 66,000 people live in Venice, mostly senior citizens.
- Water from drinking fountains is safe for drinking.
- The first woman in the world that graduated was born in Venice in 1646.
- The first public casino in the world was opened in Venice in 1638.
- Feeding pigeons is not allowed in Venice.
You’ve learned some interesting facts about Venetian gondolas, bridges, carnivals… I chose facts that are interesting to me, but I’m sure I’ve skipped a few good ones. If you have something more to add and to share with people, please do so in comments.