Why in heavens’ name would anyone build an entire city on the water? In Venice, if that idea doesn’t seem crazy enough, add to it marbled buildings with domed ceilings, fanciful courtyards and opulent palazzos finished by the finest artisans that lived in Venice at that time. The result is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world.
As a visitor, Venice did not just seem dreamlike, it appeared otherworldly. History has that when “the new settlers arrived on the islands around 402 A.D., they were faced with the need for more space and a stronger foundation to live on. They had to find ways to strengthen the islands, drain them, enlarge them and protect the fragile environment. So, they dug hundreds of canals and shored up the banks with wood pilings. They also used similar wood pilings as foundations for their buildings. The settlers pounded thousands of wooden piles into the mud, so close together that they were touching. Then, they cut off the tops and created solid platforms for the foundations of their homes. Because the wood was underwater, it didn’t rot. It’s hard to believe, but there are many buildings in Venice today that are still standing on 1000-year-old piles of wood!“
History aside there is the sheer beauty of the Floating City. During my birthday weekend, I was transported both physically and figuratively by its Grand Canal and romantic waterways traversed by swaying gondolas and plied by plush canal taxis. Hundreds of arched bridges straddle busy canals, which link narrow streets and lanes to elegant piazzas, lined with shops, bars and restaurants.
In Venice, it is easy to get lost, happily lost, all it takes is one twist, a couple of turns and you’re in another interesting time and space. There is simply no place like it. Famous Russian writer, Alexander Herzen said: “To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.” To me, that’s Venice