Venice: the floating city (?)

canals and bridges between stone islands

growing out of water

I don’t get Venice. They call it an island, or rather, a series of islands, but where is the land? It just looked like houses were growing out of the water, stone and water separated only by some green algae. The water was pretty murky, so you just saw walls disappear under the surface, and one could almost be convinced the houses are ten stories deep underwater. There has to be land, or else what do the trees grow out of?But, I didn’t get it because it looked like the houses were floating. And I always thought the gondola drivers used long rods to push off the river bottom, but I noticed they were actually paddling them, unable to reach any sort of ground. Are the buildings floating? I remember watching a James bond movie where some air-balloon things exploded and the whole building crashed into the water. Does that mean you can swim under them? If they’re all floating, how do they keep them from floating away? If they’re anchored, they must be reaaaally big, heavy anchors.

And, how do the anchors adjust for rain fall? Because a floating city would raise with more water. Does the city’s GPS location adapt to metres above sea level when it rains a lot?  I noticed they sell boots with ‘cm’ measure markings on the side, and after seeing a picture of Julia Roberts walking on water, I realized that the city actually floods. So, maybe it rains and the heavy stone houses sink.

a quiet "Street" with ample parallel parking spots available

So, the city can’t be floating, or else it would never flood. If they’re not floating, then they did a really good job of covering every piece of possible land with a building, since the buildings literally go straight into the water – no shore or anything, just maybe a couple steps. Or maybe the island was really tiny or only a couple feet under water and they just did a lot of land reclamation, and from digging all the land they made so many deep canals. I can’t imagine the foundation for a city made of stone can be that deep… or floating.

The canals weave around the smaller islands, none in straight lines, connecting island to island with pedestrian bridges that are always over-arched to make a high enough midpoint for gondolas to pass under. Some canals are wide enough for taxi-boats and motorized ferries, and others only narrow enough to fit one gondola.

San Marco

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

They create a city-sized labyrinth, a maze you could easily get lost in, if it wasn’t for all the arrows pointing you to either the “Ferrovia” (train station), “San Marco” (the most famous piazza and basilica) or “Rialto” (the most famous bridge with shopping all around).

I think Venice, like Bavaria, should also be made into a Disneyland theme park. It would look like Las Vegas’ Venetian hotel park, and the pretty princesses signing autograph books would wear renaissance ball gowns and the princes would wear extravagant masks. All of Venice was an attraction, and it felt like I had arrived into one big theme park. Maybe Disneyland could even buy the city of Venice, privatize it, and just make it the Venetian Disneyland… but I guess noone would want that, even though it wasn’t far off from that already.

dizzying glitzy masks

None of the ways they direct you are the most direct, but instead loop you around through the main streets and past every store front in Venice. They all sell the same thing, mostly masks any Burning Man festival go-er would dream of having, or someone throwing a Renaissance-themed masquerade. If you wander off the main way, you find yourself in totally deserted, silent alleyways, like you’ve stepped into a scene from the movie “V for Vendetta.” It’s a pedestrian only city, and not even scooters or bicycles exist since the bridges would pose a serious barrier to their usefulness. Taking a water taxi is the only other option after walking, so I learned to always give myself 45 mins to get anywhere, and to keep following the signs even if I thought I new a quicker way, because I kept running into stone walls or canals without bridges and didn’t feel like swimming under any buildings.


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