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The Look and Feel of Venice
Venice has a unique unrivaled atmosphere.
It's totally, entirely, completely, 100 % "like Venice"!
Not quite like in Hollywood movies, but feels far better!
Venice is like a dream city. When there you'll wonder: how can anything like this exist for real?
Nevertheless, the locals had great taste! And, history was generous enough to spare it from major conflicts, WW2's bombings...
Venetian Architecture and the Gondolas
Most of the city looks totally like in the 1400's!
As opposed to me, I bet most tourists can't tell the difference between these architectural styles and epochs...
Anyway, Venice does have McDonald's and Burger King restaurants! These fast food chains are everywhere except Antarctica and the middle of the Sahara!
The architecture is so beautiful it's jaw-opening and breathtaking.
The styles include: Venetian-Byzantine style, Venetian Gothic, Renaissance, Venetian Baroque, but several Neoclassical (18th century) buildings are also found.
Venetian Gothic style
The decaying ancient buildings and walls have their own beauty. So do the green algae-covered walls washed by the water...
Decaying ancient walls
The mix of architecture and decaying walls, the gondolas and Venetian masks make this city deeply romantic. If you can manage to escape the huge crowds and the commercial atmosphere in the main central areas, then you too can get a taste of Venice's romantic feel.
I still think the main romantic element of Venice is constituted by the gondolas!
Iconic Venetian masks. Some of the best souvenirs you can buy.
Water Channels, Streets, Bridges
There are exactly 150 water channels in Venice. Smaller, medium and large bridges span across most of them.
But despite this, when getting around in Venice, I was walking 95 % of my time. There are vast networks of streets and even areas where you don't see much water!
Gondolas on the Canal Grande
The, drier, more inland areas hide piazzas with beautiful ancient buildings all around (and some of these places are much less visited, therefore much quieter). I love those hidden places and attractions where the big crowds of "common tourists" don't go.
The Venetian bridges are unique in design and also in the fact that they tend to climb in a slope and then down... They are like staircases climbing and descending.
Walking around was difficult in the labyrinth, which reminded me of when I got lost in Marrakech!
Anyway: watch your step! There are no fences and generally no indication of where the dry land ends. You can just step into the deep water, so be careful!
Quiet street in central Venice. Most of the time I walked on dry land.
The Smells, Crowds and Lots of Water!
It's full of water, so it's natural to smell water.
(Does water have a smell? It does, some think I'm nuts, others think I'm "gifted" for being able to smell it!).
Water is everywhere... But you should my article on the fact that Venice is actually a collection of islands in the middle of a Mediterranean lagoon.
When staying at a hotel in Venice, you will actually stay on an island within a group of islands... water will be all around you!
Lonely gondola on a narrow water channel
Sometimes water levels rise to cover vast areas (including streets, piazzas).
This article on TheAtlanticCities.com tells us more about how bad the flooding often gets.
Unfortunately, Venice is sinking. Some say "Venice is drowning". Water levels are rising and the city itself is sinking (it was built on soft land).
According to that article, the water levels are rising 2 mm per year.
They quote a study, according to which Venice's southern parts are sinking at a higher rate of up to 4-5 mm per year. And the city is also tilting eastwards!
But I know they're taking the effort to build dams around the lagoon, so that they can better preserve and protect the ancient city. Few will tell you that!
During my trip, I also visited that dam area by boat. Very long reinforced concrete dams (ugly!) were being constructed, quite far away from Venice.
Here's a scarier National Geographic article on the rising water levels.
Luckily during my visit, the water levels were "steady low", no rubber boots were required!
They tend to rise at the beginning of spring and late winter and withdraw during the warmer months.
Luxurious water taxi on the Canal Grande
Now to switch the subject...
People who've been to Venice before me told about a filthy rotten oyster-like smell and suffocating crowds of tourists.
Only in some parts did Venice have that oyster-like (disgusting!) smell, but the crowds were thick indeed. Venice is noisy, but gets almost totally deserted at night (even at 10, 11 PM I could barely see people!).
The main entrances have been flooded. Some buildings' main doors haven't been opened for hundreds of years!
I actually encountered the wet wall smell more frequently.
It's like what you smell at the sides of houses after the rain. It's typical to watery areas of our Earth, like islands and tropical areas. Singapore, Capri and Madeira have that smell as well.
In the end, I'd like to underline that Venice a trip to Venice is an uplifting experience. It's one of Europe's most beautiful and also one of the continent's most well-preserved ancient cities.
Take your time, relax and enjoy the elegance and romantic atmosphere!
Sight near Rialto Bridge.
It's a gondola gathering place and an area with lots of fine restaurants and souvenir shops!
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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