Is Venice succumbing to tides or tourists?


I was truly amazed to discover that the magnificence which is Venice is on a list of 12 places to avoid visiting in 2018! Not only is this one of the most precious and beautiful cities in the world, it is in fact an open-air museum and should be treated with the utmost respect and care. Venice is an unforgettable and touching experience, no matter the season or weather. She can be grey and secretive on a foggy day, and colorful and vivacious when the sun is shining. One cannot fully appreciate the wonders of this city without knowing some basic historical facts.

An architectural miracle

Built upon wooden stakes driven into the swampy ground, this was the worlds longest existing republic. Not only did this floating city offer refuge from invaders, it also allowed it’s inhabitants to drift away from Italy and fix their attention on trade with the rich eastern powers of the time. They not only imported material goods from the east but also cultural, artistic and architectural knowledge. Walking around Venice one cannot but notice how this eastern influence lives on in it’s eccentric decor, buildings and narrow lanes.

Glassmaking

The ancient art of glassmaking was another precious expertise acquired from the Byzantine Empire and soon became the city’s major industry. In the 15th century the Venetian glassmakers were the only producers of mirrors in Europe! The glassmakers are now all located on the island of Murano where this ancient art lives on passed down from generation to generation.

A city of art

Venice has an incredible variety of art in its museums, churches and imposing palazzos. From impressive facades, gilded ceilings, intricately carved statues and grand staircases. The treasures are abundant and challenging, and hidden among all this ancient labyrinth lies a world-renowned contemporary art scene. The first International Art Exhibition of the City of Venice, later named Biennale, was held in 1894 and has now become the world’s most prestigious contemporary art exhibition. Held mainly in the Giardini and in the majestic Arsenale shipyard, many exhibitions are also held in museums, churches and pretentious palazzos not normally open to the public.

Hordes of tourists

Yes, it’s truly crowded! But the crowds can be easily avoided. All one has to do is avoid the few areas that the tourists actually frequent. With so much to see it is very easy to find many interesting and beautiful places where you will meet only locals. It’s incredible that just moving slightly off the beaten path you can find yourself completely alone! Another way to skip the crowds is to go off season when the cruise ships are off duty. This also has the advantage of finding lower prices and special deals on great hotels.

Venice may be dirty, unkempt and drowning in tourists but it is also a remarkable and precious tribute to when and how it was built. There are many replicas around the world which are clean and new but they will never have the charm and wonder which is the real Venice. And lets also ask ourselves if it’s only the city that is at fault or also the unruly tourists who have no regard for the precious historical assets they are privileged to admire.

Anna Moggia is Owner of Boutique Hotel Zenana. Boutique Hotel Zenana is a charming, family-run B&B in the mountain town of San Candido/Innichen in the UNESCO Dolomites.

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