I was hoping that Venice would be the highlight of our trip, but limited time and less than ideal weather somewhat dampened the experience. Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful city, and I would love to return someday to wander through its labyrinthine paths under clear blue skies.
Venice was once a naval power and one of the centers of trade in Europe. The 400 churches scattered throughout the city suggest a surprisingly large population. However, its economic and political influence eventually waned with the rerouting of goods (silk, spice, etc.) due to the galleon trade.
The images on these walls have not faded despite the centuries because they are made of mosaic rather than painted on.
The number of residents has dwindled and many structures are now unoccupied. Adding to the challenge of preserving the heritage of the city is the unusual foundations. Much of the city is built on top of centuries-old wooden piles rather than solid ground above the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Replacing these piles without disturbing the structures built above them requires a lot of effort. To top it all off, Venice itself is slowly sinking at 1-2mm per year. Billions of Euros are spent on maintaining the city, though it cannot be denied that there is also elegance in its decay.
Another idiosyncrasy is the lack of roads. To move about in Venice, the only options are riding by boat, walking through the maze of alleys and bridges, or some combination of these two.
This gondolier has more than a passing resemblance to the actor George Clooney.
Chatting with other locals in the middle of a ride.
Although technically belonging to a single country, many Italian regions have their own distinct culture and dialects/languages. Thus, residents are said to be more likely to identify themselves as Sicilian, Neapolitan, Venetian, etc. rather than Italian.
St. Mark's Square, as viewed from the campanille.
St. Mark's Square at ground level.
The Bridge of Sighs viewed from both sides.
"The bridge name comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells."
Laying down elevated walkways in preparation for the annual acqua alta (lit. "high water").
As previously mentioned, Italy has several leaning towers besides the famous one in Pisa.
A random altar in a random alley.
A glassmaker sculpting a horse out of a blob of glass within seconds.
For jewelry, "glass" tends to have a negative connotation especially in relation to actual gemstones. However, Venetian glass products are works of art held in high regard. Besides their vibrant colors and intricate engraving (some involving gold), the artisans of Murano also boast that the durability of their glassware is superior to those of imitations.
Burano does not draw crowds like Venice does, but its colorfully painted houses are still a charming sight.
Yet another leaning tower.