“Getting lost is the only place worth going to”, says the wise man. If I were ever to get lost, I would choose to lose myself in Venice. The city of Venice is an enigma- a city that combines old world charms and the authentic beauty of Italia with an experience you will not find anywhere else on this earth. The Gondola Rides, the Italian serenades, the glorious piazzas, the sparkling Murano Glass, the vibrant masks of the Venetian Carnival- the charms of Venice has something to offer everybody.
History: The Queen of the Adriatic is nestled in the marshy lagoon of Venice, between the Po and the Piave rivers. Its unique location grants it stunning visual beauty and an unparalleled appeal that cannot be imitated. Historically, the city was the capital of the Veneto region. It was an important maritime center during the Renaissance and the Crusades and trade of luxury goods, wine and fine silk flourished. Venice is also home to the exotic Murano glass factory (originating from the island of Murano, a few kilometers off the main insland of Venice). This beautiful city is completely devoid of cars and is also called the ‘Pedestrian City’. People walk and use water buses and water taxis (called Vaporetto) to get around. Tourists can also avail the historic Gondola rides to enjoy a scenic tour along the Grand Canal.
It is believed that the original population of Venice consisted of refugees from surrounding Roman cities and countryside who were fleeing from Hun and German invasions. It became an Imperial power after the end of the Fourth Crusade, with the sacking of Constantinople. Venice carries a rich legacy of heritage. It was a center of excellence in art during the period of Renaissance. The city is also the seat of magical symphony and operatic music. Thus when you are visiting Venice, you know that you are in cohorts with history.
The beautiful cityscape, rich art and musical heritage and the magical ambience of time standing still has made Venice one of the most sought after international tourist spots. The city has earned a bouquet of endearing sobriquets, ranging from ‘ a living museum ‘ to the ‘most beautiful city in the world’. Tourist magnets include the imposing structures like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco. Tourists also splurge on luxury destinations, hotels and cafes of Venice that offer an unique experience away from the mundane daily life strives.
Art, Music and Architecture
Venice boasts of the beautiful Venetian Gothic school of architecture characterized by generous doses of Byzantine, Ottoman and Phoenician influences. The city also has some beautiful buildings built in Renaissance and Baroque styles. The Doge’s Palace, Ca’ o’doro and Ca’ Pesaro are some architectural marvels bearing the indelible mark of Venice.
The Venetian School of Music is celebrated throughout the world. The Polychoral style is characterized by the splendor of multiple choruses and elaborate orchestra. The city is home to a multitude of celebrated music composers including Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni. Thus, when you are in Venice, the one thing you cannot miss is definitely a music recital.
Talking about art, Venetian style is characterized by warm color pallet and a vibrant use of hues. Venetian Glass is also famous all over the world. The ornate glasswork techniques unique to Venice are splendid, to say the least. The delicate and beautiful jewelry made from hand blown Murano Glass is adored by connoisseurs all over the world. The glass factories attract tourists from all over the world to behold the masters create beauty in the fire.
The Carnival of Venice
Every Year, the annual celebration of the Carnival of Venice begins, with the end of the period of Lent, forty days before Easter. People dressed in elaborate costumes and intricate masks flood the Venetian streets, making it a marvelous spectacle to behold. Originally started in the Middle ages to commemorate the victory of Serenissima Repubblicaagainst Ulrico in 1162, the carnival was outlawed under the rule of the King of Austria. However, the carnival made a comeback in 1979 when the Italian Government decided to reconstruct the appeal of Venetian Heritage. Today, the Carnival sees a footfall of around 50 million people from all over the world.
Masks have always been an integral part of the Venetian way of life. It is believed that people used to cover their faces in response to the prevalent social hierarchy of old Venice. Today, however the Venetian mask is a relic of past legacy. The masks are made of everything from leather to intricate glasswork, gilded in gold and elaborately hand painted. Most recognizable masks include the Bauta, Columbina and The Plague Doctor ( a mask originally worn by healers to stop the spreading of plague). The Plague Doctor mask finds elaborate mention in Dan Brown’s novel ‘Inferno’.
One of the most appealing parts of the Venetian Carnival is the la maschera più bella (the most beautiful mask) contest at the last weekend of the Carnival.
No mention of Venice can ever be complete without a dreamy ride I a gondola. Though today Vaporettos are used for transportation across Venice, tourists prefer a ride in a historic Gondola to admire the beautiful city of Venice. The Gondolas are usually wooden flat boats, adorned with luxurious cushions and rugs for tourist comfort. The Gondoliers dress in striped shirts and dark trousers and often sing magical Italian serenades, adding to the romance of the environment. They say a nighttime ride on a gondola in the Grand Canal of Venice (or even the narrow canals that criss cross the authentic Venice) is the most romantic experience one can ever enjoy. Just close your eyes and imagine the serenades of your gondolier under a starlit sky with your loved one, and you will know why.
Thus if you appreciate every thing beautiful, adventurous and romantic, you should add Venice to your must-visit list.