Sunday, December 6, 2009


Venice is the Las Vegas of Italy. Not in the number of casinos or strip clubs, but in that it only exists to attract tourists. While Vegas was created pretty much just for this purpose, Venice has slowly devolved into it. The one time capitol of the Latin Empire (after sacking Constantinople), it is now the capitol of over-priced food and souvenir shops. Don't get me wrong, Venice is cool, it just feels a little like Disneyland.

Venice is a collection of a couple hundred islands in the marshes off the north-eastern Italian coast, connected by bridges over the 100s of canals the city is famous for. There are no motor vehicles on the islands, so all transportation is by boat, gondola, or a new pair of Nikes. The architecture in some parts of the city dates back to the 12th century, and everything is quite well preserved. It is certainly a very picturesque city.

Venice is also dripping in history. Like all European cities, it has an old church or two, but it also has amazingly preserved palaces, ancient hospitals, tons of shops selling masks and clothing from the height of Venetian power, and a remarkable number of concerts and plays for such a small place. George and I caught a really cool show of people in period dress performing music pieces from various Italian operas.

As you have probably also heard, Venice is sinking. Not metaphorically like the USA or Dubai currently are, but actually, literally sinking. Everyday a little bit more water flows into the city during high tide, and they city is always trying to figure out how to prop the city up a bit longer. The main tourist area of Piazza San Marco is actually criss-crossed with elevated walk-ways to keep the footsies dry, and on our trip to check the area out early one morning (right around high-tide), we made use of them ourselves. Even the Saint Mark's Basilica itself was under assault by the rising tides.

Global Warming

The inside of the church is pretty cool too, but for some reason they don't let you take pictures inside of Saint Mark's Basilica, and the couple I sneaked when security wasn't looking didn't turn out so great, so here is a picture of the nearly as cool church next door.

Everyone should definitely visit Venice at least once in their life, probably best before it is underwater. To see more pics of Venezia, click here.

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