Venice is a unique city.

It is a province of the Veneto region, in the northern part of Italy and it is known as La Serenissima.

It is granted with an unmatchable beauty due to its palaces, squares and canals, home of the immensely popular gondolas. I remember my first time there. I arrived late in the morning of a day that was a bit misty and watching the city unveil itself was a borderline mystical experience.

The city of Venice is one of the world’s most original and romantic cities, for me and for many others.

History

Around 1000 BC, the Veneto region was occupied by the Veneti, a people from the Black Sea region. The attacks perpetrated by the Gauls became frequent and violent in the region and the Veneti established an alliance with the Romans. From that moment onwards, no one heard about them ever again.

Around the 4th century, the barbarians from the East invaded Italy, advancing through Veneto region.  These invasions were, as a matter of fact, the reason for Venice’s birth.

The inhabitants of the cities that were charred and looted by the Barbarians sought refuge in the tiny islands of the Venetian Lagoon, a location where the invaders had a hard time breaking through, since they had yet to master the art of navigation. These tiny islands posed a challenge in terms of its access, but they were safe. There were about 120 islets cut by 177 canals.

A lagoon is a coastal basin containing standing water, being separated from the sea by a sandbank only, maintaining with it an intermittent communication. As time moved on, the lagoon’s islands became inhabited. The first inhabitants formed communities and pick their leader. The governor first designated was Maritime Tribune and, after 697, it changed to Doge.

The islands quickly became small for all those who kept arriving. The Venetian then transformed the sea into land, building on the waters which separated the islands. The city started to move into the water.

Foundations

The Venetians created a method in which they used high foundations, whose goal was to keep the buildings safe from the tidal waters. Wood was used throughout the whole process in order to build thousands of stakes with several meters. The stakes, side by side, were fixed to the ground, thus creating a high wooden platform.

After fixing thousands of wooden stakes, a bottom layer made of wood and stone was placed, upon which the buildings of Venice were built. What we see today is all fixed on the top of this structure.

A very important detail, which was unknown at the time, is that there is a solid layer with about 18000 years old under the lagoon’s sediments. This layer allows the stakes to be properly secure.

Venice is truly an original city, built on the water and with a unique daily life. Visiting is a process that one has to do at least once. It is a singular city, with a totally romantic atmosphere. As it stands today, it is already 500 years old. I recommend spending at least 4 or 5 days there, in order to enjoy everything peacefully. Sleep in Venice if you can, in order to stroll the not so touristy streets and stay there while most of the tourist leave, at the end of the day.

That is when you will indeed feel Venice’s singular atmosphere. It is pure magic…

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