RtW Cities: Venice

After a comparatively long time between holidays, summer has arrived to Zurich, complete with 30 degree weather (86F for those weird people) and this means it's time to travel! First city to add to the Round-the-World list is Venice, which can be reached from Zurich in about seven hours of train journey; and quite an impressive train ride it is, scenery-wise! (e.g. greenery and Alps like this).

But really, this trip was all about the island city itself - or, in reality, about 100 really small islands. My first impression, which stayed for the entire trip, was that this was the most touristy place I can ever remember visiting, and that beats Cape Town during the world cup and Athens just after the 2004 Olympics. Pretty much everything is set up for tourists - the main walkways are lined with stores selling Venice-themed everything, there are loads of handbag / novelty toy sellers who  try to sell to random passers by the whole time, there are cafes, restaurants, pizzerias and gelaterias everywhere with menus in at least 4 or 5 languages, plus random art galleries / museums / tours / concerts / ... at pretty much every turn. In short, if you don't like being surrounded by tourists in busy streets, don't go (it's about 50,000 people per day!) but if you do, you definitely won't run out of stuff to do. I think we ended up covering about 40km by foot over the weekend.

It's no secret that the thing that I'm usually taken by the most of a place is it's architecture, and that's no exception here - the styles of buildings were amazing, it felt as though nothing new had been built in a long time, things just kept being patched over here & there. Canals instead of roads (and so also water taxis, water busses, huge yachts, and of course, gondolas) is a sight that takes quite a bit of getting used to, and just how that affects how things get around the town when car transport is impossible - e.g. the hand-drawn rubbish carts, and delivery boats.

I can't imagine living there, you'd have to really like tourists and water, although the price of coffee and gelato do make it a bit easier to understand - one breakfast (croissant + two decent coffees) ended up under €5. The pedestrian design, and interesting-things-density-per-square-meter though are quite admirable; for example, there used to be no bridges, so each small island built its own church, meaning there's block after block of tall/grandiose spires, plus of course St Mark's Basilica, Doge's palace, Ponte di Rialto, Grand Canal... and even a University and Naval base meant that my camera was quite busy. Definitely somewhere worth visiting once or twice, even if just to ride a gondola under the original Bridge of Sighs, or be able to place all the movies that reference it. And as usual, more complete photo album available here - next city: Brussels.


Popular posts from this blog

Sounds good - part 1

Perceiving Frequencies

Real life is full of Kaizo blocks