Venice in Italy is one of the few cities that can truly be described as unique. It survives against all the odds, built on a series of low mud banks amid the tidal waters of the Adriatic and regularly subject to floods. Once a powerful commercial and naval force in the mediterranean, Venice has found a new role. Her Palazzi have become shops hotels and appartments, her warehouses have been transformed into museums and her convents have been turned into centres for art restoration. Yet little of the essential fabric of Venice has altered in 200 years.
The Grand Canal
Known to the Venetians as the Canalazzo, the Grand canal sweeps through the heart of Venice, following the course of the ancient river bed. Since the founding days of the empire it has served as the citys main thoroughfare. Once used by great galleys or trading vesels making their stately way to the Rialto, it is nowadays teeming with vaporetti, launches, barges and gondolas. The annual re-enactment of historic pageants, perserving the traditions of Venetian Republic, brings a blaze of colour to the canal. The most spectacular is the Regata Storica held in September a huge procession of historic craft packed with crews in traditional costumes, followed by boat and gondola races down the Grand Canal. The parade of palaces bordering the winding waterway, bulit over a span of around 500 years, presents some of the finest architecture of the republic. Historically it is like a roll call of the old Venetian palazzo bearing the name of a once grand family. Bright frecoes may have faded, precious marbles worn, and foundations frayed with the tides, but the Grand Canal is still, to quote Charles VIII of France's ambassador 1495, "the most beautiful street in the world".
Like the city of Venice, Murano comprises a cluster of small islands connected by bridges. it has been the centre of the glass making industry since 1291, when the furnaces and glass craftsmen were moved here from the city of Venice, prompted by the risk of fire to the buildings and the dis-agreeable effects of smoke. Historically Murano owes its prosperity entirely to glass, and its creators of stunning Murano glass Jewellery fabulous chandeliers and ornaments From the late 13th century when the population numbered over 30,000 Murano enjoyed self government, minted its own coins and had its own golden book listing members of the aristocracy. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was the principal glass producing centre in Europe. Murano glass artisans were granted unprecedented privileges, but for those who left the island to found businesses elsewhere there were severe penalities.
There is something about Venice that inspires a passion and a feeling different to any other city I have visited. Once in your soul it remains to haunt you until you return. It is like a mysterious and beautiful creature, it has its own personality, intense, rich, and elegant. Around every corner at the end of every narrow alley way the promise of a vision you will see nowhere else on earth. Silent beauty early in the morning majestic buildings like royal crowns rising out of the turquoise lagoon bathed in gentle sunlight. During the day, a 'hub bub' of noise excitement coffee bars and people, busy people, the labyrinth of canals like the veins of the city threading through every corner, transporting, moving, carrying and driving it on, Its very life blood. Then as the day draws to a close,it has a gentle calmness about it, as the evening sun lies across the grand canal like a golden wrap protecting the city fleetingly from the darkness of night. Julie White.
Ps. If you have never visited Venice, Go