The Queen of Adriatic is worth zooming in on for some funny facts. Ten things you might not already know about this jewel of a city:
#1. Venice consists of 118 tiny islands, 177 canals, over 400 bridges, millions of piles underneath the lagoon and 350 gondolas.
#2. Venice is built into a network of waterways, not because they loved the look of an archipelago, but because of a barbarian invasion. The habitants had to escape for the invaders, so they built this structure out of necessity. This way it was namely harder for the invaders to enter and attack them. Smart isn’t it?
#3 Venice is also called the floating city, because though it might seem solid, it’ss actually constantly moving. Back in the days the houses were built directly over the slit on the bottom of the sea, so the movement of the tectonic plates forced them to think of something better: they came up with a better idea to construct it using millions of pylons. Later on, they improved the design by adding slabs of stronger stone over the pylons. Despite this innovative design, Venice is still slowly sinking (because of the movement of the tectonic plates, and the deposits of soft sediments under the buildings). With this in mind, you can imagine why it is forbidden to ride a bike in any part of Venice (you’ll get a fine if you do otherwise!). Besides this sinking problem, during November/December the ‘Acqua Alta’ (high water) occurs as a result of the tidal activity. To solve this Venice came up with a project called ‘Mose’, a system of barriers. These barriers are moveable: they can lift themselves up in order to fight a tide higher than a certain point.
#4. Another fun story about the construction of the famous Rialto bridge is spread: back in the days, nobody could imagine it was possible to build this bridge out of stone. To show their disbelief of this construction it was common to use the proverb “It will be constructed, when I have 3 legs” for a man and “I’ll set myself on fire, if the construction is ever completed” for a woman. While the bridge was easily built out of stone you’ll see these two proverbs (a man with 3 legs and a woman burning) carved into the arches of the bridge. Nowadays this bridge is known as the biggest one in Venice!
#5. Why the streets and alleyways are so narrow? Because these weren’t the official streets of Venice, since it’s a water city. The canals used to be the real streets and that’s also why all the main entrances of the houses are on the canal-side.
#6. If two houses are connected by a beautiful marble arch, it means that once a same family owned them both. You’ll also recognize this by the family crests on the arches.
#7. As you know Venice is famous for its Carnevale. During this festival everybody will try to outshine the other with his or her bejeweled mask. Not only during these festivities it was a common thing, but Venetians also loved to wear the masks for any other occasion. So for security reasons the government had to make up many laws to specify when, where and who was allowed to walk around masked.
#8. Many honored people were born in Venice, like the famous lover Giacomo Casanova, explorer Marco Polo and composer Antonio Vivaldi.
#9. Don’t fall for the tourist traps - Venice is full of them. An example: sitting down at a café or bar will cost you more than eating and drinking directly at the counter. For this reason you’ll see many Venetians consuming there. My advice? Make sure you always read the fine print on the menu!
#10. All the Venetian streets were basically built without any order, rhyme or reason. That’s why they have lots of twists and dead ends! That’s why you’ll certainly get lost, even with the world’s best maps. On the other hand I’m sure you will love this wandering around in the city, since this is Venice’s charm!
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