Venice fascinated me. The city is a wonderful walking city with its pedestrian only streets and alleys. Centuries old architecture all around in stunning restored glory and various states of decay provides a visual mosiac through time from every vantage point. Getting lost among the maze of alleys, bridges and canal separated island blocks is almost guaranteed. For some, directional abandonment may even be the primary objective of a walk around the Floating City.
Since returning back to California from Venice, Italy I have watched hours of videos on Venice. The only Venice video I watched prior to my trip was a walking tour through Sestiere Santa Croce and Sestiere San Polo with no narration. These are two of the six districts of the lagoon city that were nearest Hotel Aquarius where we stayed.
One of the ideas that sticks with me now in my post-trip research me is the serious danger Venice faces in the coming decades from global climate change and rising sea levels. Since 2000 Venice has had more high water events, ‘acqua alta’, than in the previous 100 years. St. Mark’s Square is the low point of the city at 80 cm above sea level. Piazza San Marco floods whenever the tide rises above 80 cm. This usually happens in autumn and winter months, however, last August the Piazza was under 3 feet of water. I saw a couple of Venice travel videos showing tourists walking through the flooded Piazza and alleys of Sestiere San Marco holding their roller bag luggage over their heads.
One of the initial videos I watched about Venice discussed why Renzo Rosso, the founder of clothing brand Diesel, financed the €5 million restoration of Rialto Bridge from 2012 -2019, the oldest of the Grand Canal bridges, originally opened in 1591. The debt level of Venice makes restoration funds allocation a tough choice in a city with so many infrastructure project needs.
Venice is a city where there are always buildings in the process of reconstruction and restoration.
As sea levels rise the foundations of Venice’s buildings will suffer more erosion. Submerged wooden pylons, 16-20 feet in length are embedded in clay soil of the seabed beneath the lagoon with flat planks on top of the poles. These wooden supports are topped with impermeable Istrian limestone rock layers constructed as a foundation to shield from seawater the mostly brick structures towering above the canals.
Rising sea water levels place the city in a dire situation for the 21st century. Venice spent the past 30 years building a $7 billion dollar flood protection barrier called MOSE. The elimination of large cruise ships from the Giudecca Canal in 2021 also alleviates unnecessary water level rises and air pollution from ships hovering over the city. A DW documentary from 2017 shows German scientists analyzing air quality at Rialto Bridge to find it was three times the level of air pollution in central Berlin during rush hour. In a car-free city, most of the pollutants were attributed to docked cruise ships a little over a mile away at the Santa Croce port. The large ships emit 24-hour unfiltered exhaust to supply the ship’s onboard energy needs.
Venice without the crowds
There were not that many people crowding the streets of Venice during our stay at the beginning of April, aside from the area of San Marco and the Rialto market area. Venice only has about 50,000 residents. During Easter weekend, the week after we left, an estimated 125,000 tourists filled Venice. Most visitors are day trippers, which is why Venice, as of June 1, 2022, will have a day tourist tax from €3 to €10 depending on the number of tourists in the city. Visitors staying in Venice hotels are exempt from the tourist tax.
Some YouTube travel videos about Venice
Beautifully detailed video of interior spaces in St. Mark’s Basilica. Great images in video and slideshow pictures set to Mozart soundtrack.
Venice, Island Treasure – Documentary covers major festivals and arts of Venice.
The Republic of Venice academic history lecture. I really liked the historic maps from 700 to 1,700 to see how tribes/ethnic groups moved across Europe over centuries. A long explanation of the historic complexity in electing a new Doge for the Republic of Venice.
The Earth Stories video explains the MOSE flood barrier system.