There are few locations around the world that engender the term 'romance' the way Venice does. And when one hears Italy, do not the grand canals of Venice immediately pop to mind (along with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Italian cuisine)?
Everything about Venice is extraordinary. My approach was on a boat ride on the main canal approaching the center of the city, and the fascinating buildings didn't number in the dozens, they numbered in the hundreds! One such example is shown below (I can't identify the building). The fuzziness of the picture is indicative on how much our boat rocked on the choppy early September waters.
The city center is quite a sight indeed. The Piazza di San Marco is dominated by the basilica (shown here), but is surrounded by huge markets and a host of other monuments. There's plenty of shopping to be done there.
Riverside, there are a number of monuments. The below monument (which I haven't been able to identify all this time since the trip), was close to our port, for example. For all her romance, it is perhaps easy to forget that Venice was once an Empire, and has a load of military history to celebrate. (For example, the Venetians once held most of the Adriatic coastline, and her influence can be seen along the Dalmatian Coast in places such as Trogir, Croatia).
But there are plenty of surprises, too. Less obvious a monument is the below bridge that extends over one of the canals. My guide told us that this bridge was used to transport prisoners between the two connected buildings.
Of course, here is where you can see the layout of the typical canal scene. The buildings rise tall above, with small archways where the residents store their boats. Nowadays it is more common to see small motorboats than gondolas as the primary means of getting around. Small, deeply arched footbridges cross the canals at regular intervals. And all the buildings have been colored (or discolored) from the salty waters.
Yes, I did have the change to partake in a gondola ride. No, it wasn't quite as 'romantic' as I thought it would be, but then again I was part of a tour group, which expectedly dulled the ambience. On the other hand, if you've never ridden a gondola, you will be surprised to note the extent to which they ride at an angle (see above how tipped it is). Also, you'll note that the gondoleer's head is well above the lower side of the bridge -- which leads people like me to wonder how many times the typical gondoleer bops his head. But leave it to me to wonder such things.
I found Venice to be truly unique, and certainly enjoyable.
Trip taken 4 September 2000 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin