There are some beautiful things to see and experience in Venice. But honestly, I’ve always thought of Venice as the “tourist trap” of Italy… the kind of place you go once, then you can say you’ve been there.
Our family spent 6 hours on a private walking tour (via Venicescapes). Our guide, the co-founder of Venicescapes, showed us Venice like we had not seen it before. We learned about the complex history of Venice by visiting areas on the island that we had not seen previously (and some not open to the general public). Did you know that Venice was the world’s longest existing republic and an incredible mercantile empire?
It was fascinating to learn why Venice was formed (inhabitants trying to escape the Barbarians on the mainland). Think Attila the Hun … The Venetians didn’t have building supplies on the lagoons, but soon learned that salt was very valuable in trade. They had access to infinite supplies of salt which allowed them to trade for many other items. They leveraged their location on the water to create a wealthy trading empire for over 1,000 years.
Our tour showed us a glimpse of the urban and architectural development of Venice. The architecture of Venice is truly amazing. You can still see the influence of the Byzantine, Islamic, Gothic, Roman Renaissance, Baroque and Palladian architecture in the city today.
Venice is comprised of many small islands. Many of the wealthy merchants and families claimed islands as their own. They built beautiful homes along the canals.
Originally, transportation among the islands was by boat. When the need arose to have the small islands connected by bridges, it was the wealthy families of the islands that that would pay to have bridges built. They would have their family crests placed on the bridges to represent their wealth and their “property”.
This is why as you walk the narrow streets of Venice, you find that many of the roads are dead-ends and most of the bridges are angled. The city of islands wasn’t originally built to be connected.
If you’re “going back” to Venice, I would recommend booking a tour through Venicescapes (http://www.Venicescapes.org). You’ll get the best history lesson and enjoy an incredible cultural experience.