Italy: Venice

Venice, with the bell tower, Piazza san Marco and the Doges' Palace in the foregound
Venice, with the bell tower, Piazza san Marco and the Doges’ Palace in the foregound

Venice was the first stop on our ten days in Italy, and one of the most remarkable. Everyone knows, of course, that ‘Venice is built on an island in a lagoon’ (or words to that effect) but in my mind, at least, the lagoon was relatively small and the island had some open spaces, perhaps even some high ground. I was wrong on all counts. Venice proper is a smallish, very low, island jam-packed with buildings and riddled with alleys (no real streets) and canals wide and narrow.

The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal

Walking alongside one of the smaller canals
Our tour group walking alongside one of the smaller, less glamorous, canals

There are several smaller islands nearby, still in the lagoon, and most of them are similarly built up. The city outgrew the islands long ago and is connected to the (much larger) Mestre on the mainland via a road and rail causeway. We took the water-bus across to one of the nearest islands, San Giorgio, to ascend the bell tower of the eponymous church, my vantage point for the top photo and the one below.

Looking over the Giudecca and outer islands from San Giorgio; Venice itself is to the right of the picture

Everything in this picture is in the lagoon, except for the smudge of land on the horizon. Wikipedia tells us that, “The Venetian Lagoon stretches from the River Sile in the north to the Brenta in the south, with a surface area of around 550 square kilometres (210 sq mi). It is around 8% land, including Venice itself and many smaller islands. About 11% is permanently covered by open water, or canal, as the network of dredged channels are called, while around 80% consists of mud flats, tidal shallows and salt marshes. The lagoon is the largest wetland in the Mediterranean Basin.” This map makes the situation clear:

San Giorgio from Venice, (note gondolas - must be Venice)
San Giorgio from Venice (note gondolas – must be Venice)

The Biennale was in progress while we were in Venice, and we managed to see a little of it – see Venice and the Biennale, one of my ‘Gallery Crawl’ pages. The church of San Giorgio was the site of the last artwork on that page.

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