The history of Venice starts around 400AD in the lagoon close to the Po and Piave rivers. It consists of a series of 117 small islands connected by canals and bridges.
Historians believe that the first residents were refugees from cities such as Padua, Aquileia and others. There are also references in the Roman records, of fisherman in the marshy lagoons.
The name Venice comes from the ancient Veneti people who lived in the area around 10 century BC. It has had a variety of names over the years: Queen of the Adriatic, City of Water, City of Canals and the Floating City, to name a few and was the capital of the Republic of Venice. Due to its isolated position, it became more autonomous and its earliest governing committee, the tribuni maiores, dates from c568.
During the Renaissance Venice was a major financial and maritime powerhouse, and a major mercantile centre selling luxury goods such as spice, silk, grain and art. The City State of Venice was viewed as the first real financial centre, making Venice and extremely wealthy city.
After the Napoleonic Wars it was annexed by the Austrian Empire and later became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866.
It was also the birth place of Antonio Vivaldi.
I had always wanted to visit Venice as it seemed so beautiful and mysterious. The first time I visited the city as part of a trip to Italy as a whole, which I arranged as a challenge for myself. I've not done the 'gap year' experience of going off to Australia or round hitching the world, but I have travelled, to Australia, Canada, Egypt and India. On these trips I stayed with friends and family, or travelled as part of a group from Imaginative Traveller. This time I wanted to test myself and see how I dealt with travelling on my own, with no guide, no real travel plans except vague ideas of what areas I wanted to visit and with no accommodation booked, except the first 2 nights.
My first test came when I got out of the airport on the Venice mainland at 10pm. I hadn't known that taxis didn't work that late to the hotel I had booked into. However, luckily I met a kind taxi driver who agreed to take me.
After my 2 nights in a hotel I had planned to get the train to Rome, but when I got to the station I discovered that I hadn't been paid so couldn't buy a ticket until the following day. Test 2 of the trip was finding a room for that night but I managed fine and next day was able to test out my book Italian to ask which platform the train to Rome left from. The only problem was I couldn't understand the answer!
I stayed in Rome for a couple of days in a hostel, visiting the colosseum, Trevi fountain, the Vatican and other amazing sites. Here I experienced test 3 & test 4. Firstly my glasses broke and I had to try and find an optician to fix them, difficult when the only word of Italian for this situation that you can find in the phrase book is 'rotto' -broken. Then the film jammed in my camera (yes I was still using a film camera at that point). As any photographer will know, to remove a jammed film safely so that you don't expose any previously shot work, you need to remove the film in a black light safe bag, which any self respecting photographic shop/studio should have.
Well, trekking round Rome, with limited Italian trying to find a photographic shop & then getting them to understand what I needed was definitely a challenge. More pigeon Italian was employed: 'Borsa nera' (black bag) and the well used 'rotto' again. Despite the shop assistant denying they had a borsa nera, I pointed excitedly to the item I could see tucked behind the counter and eventually the film was removed safely.
Back to Venice and I had great fun riding the vaporettos along the canals. I loved the way that you could just hop on and off, smell of sea air coming in off the lagoon if you took that route and the sunsets silhouetting the churches on the skyline. The light in Venice has a certain quality which you can't find anywhere else.
and enjoyed the amazing food at the cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the city and discovered Murano glass beautiful beads in a shop (this isn't the actual shop but one like it)I found down a back street. Meandering down quiet backstreets, away from the main tourist areas was lovely. I could almost imagine the romance and intrigue happening all around....clandestine figures slinking in the shadows, masked figures waiting on corners for secret trysts and kisses shared behind fans....
I would love to hear about your trips to Venice.