The Floating City

The only two things I really knew about Venice before today was that it had canals and that it would probably be under water within a few years so if you want to visit you better do it soon. But as soon as I arrived, a massive bout of curiosity emerged. How was the city built? Why did they want a city essentially built on water? How much does it cost to live here? Does everyone who lives here own a boat?
 
We arrived in Venice shortly after 2:00 PM from Florence with a transfer in Bologna (which is the strangest train station setup I’ve seen - some platforms are underground). I had looked at where the major sites in Venice are and created a rough route for us to take in an attempt to see as much as we could in such a short time. 
 
As you walk out of the train station, you’re immediately greeted by the Grand Canal and it doesn’t take long to realise just how unique this city is. 

It’s truly a maze of canals, bridges, and sidewalks. Walk down the wrong street and you might find yourself at a dead end, unless you want to swim to your destination. (Do people swim here?)

Within our first thirty minutes of being in Venice, we discovered how disgustingly expensive the city is, ran into an anime convention, and saw a protest or march of some kind (my search efforts to try and discover what exactly it was have thus far been unhelpful).

Throughout our day, we encountered numerous churches (a common theme of Italy).  learned that part of the reason why there are so many churches in Venice is because historically each island community had its own place of worship.

The longer were wandered, the more curious I got. So as soon as I got a stable internet connection, the research began. Here are some quick and interesting facts about Venice:

  • The city consists of 118 tiny islands with 177 canals separating them and over bridges connecting them (different sites have different numbers for exactly how many bridges there are)
  • Aside from Ponte della Libertà – a long bridge connecting the mainland and the northern edge of the city allowing for railway and road transportation – the only forms of transportation within the city are water and foot
  • Venice receives over 20 million visitors a year though only half stay overnight
  • The city was built with a wooden foundation
  • Not only do people not swim in the canals (because the water is disgusting) but it’s also fineable  
  • The city floods pretty regularly (unsurprisingly)

There are a ton more interesting facts, but I won't bore you - but get to Googling if you too are fascinated!

After hours of admiring this incredible city, we were starving and went in search of food. Because Venice is such a touristy area, we knew finding good, reasonably priced food was going to be difficult. So we moved away from the Grand Canal towards the inner part of the city that was less populated by tourists. We found a restaurant with a beautiful garden seating area and fair prices. It turned out to be one of the best meals we've had. We both got spaghetti carbonara as our first dish and were basically drooling over how delicious it was.

Uncomfortably full and happy, we slowly started making our way to the bus terminal so we could catch the shuttle to the airport. Along the way, we got to admire the setting sun over the canals.

Today was an amazing end to an epic two weeks. I'm sad my trip is over, but I am grateful for the memories, experiences, and time I got to spend with friends. Now time to get planning my next excursion :)