Venice, a living museum of the Renaissance, is known by many monickers. The City of Love. The City of Romance. The City of Masked Balls. The City of Canals.
Our focus today is on the unique design of a city built from 118 islands with canals functioning as the “roads” for transportation and small, low bridges connecting the islands. The central city is home to about 60,000 people, who (it often feels like) are outnumbered by the crush of visitors, especially during the summer. The city of Venice and its lagoon are a World Heritage Site.
Along with its canals, Venice is famous for its gondolas, gondoliers, and (since 2010) its first female gondolier, Giorgio Boscolo, who broke a 900 year-old tradition of only men being members of the gondolier’s guild.
The most infamous canal is adjacent to the Palazzo Ducale, Doge’s Palace, which houses the grim Palazzo delle Prigioni (the prison). Prisoners on their way by boat to the prison went under the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), eponymously named for the reactions of the prisoners facing incarceration.
The Canal Grande (Grand Canal) serves as the main transportation artery for the city and handles commerce along with the gondolas full of sightseeing tourists.
In a testament to their outstanding construction, hundreds of marble palazzos (palaces) are still standing along not only the Canal Grande (Grand Canal), but also many of the city’s 118 canals.
In 1630 the plague claimed over 40,000 victims in Venice alone. The 16th Century church Basillica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health) was built to commemorate the end of the plague. The interior features six chapels with one altar each and a beautiful polychrome marble floor.