Venice is the capital of both the province of Venezia and the region of Veneto. It is known for being an “island city”, and still serves as a major Italian port, because of its location among more than 100 individual islands located in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Because the city lies among islands, the only means of transporting around the city, besides walking through the maze-like streets, is by way of the illustrious water canals, which so called Venice Canals.
Like her Mother Italy, Venice holds a long history; in the year 400 A.D., refugees from the mainland of Europe sought Venice as a safe haven from the Barbarians who conquered Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. As time went on, invaders continued to take over the mainlands which forced masses of more refugees to seek safety in the channels of the lagoon city. However, it wasn’t until around 450 A.D. that refugees realized that living on the mainland was far too dangerous to ever return, so they resided in Venice as permanent residents.
History of the Venice Canals
When the mainland refugees finally settled Venice, they only had the inlets and channels that had formed, naturally, between the marshy islands of the lagoon. From there, settlers used pilings made from closely spaced tree trunks that were set into layers of sand and clay to construct buildings on. As the population of the city began to expand, more canals had to be built, and the original canals had to be deepened and lined with stone to suit the increase of traffic.
Venice is tied together by more than 150 canals which stretch over 400 bridges. As if the integrity of the creation of the canals aren’t impressive enough, the Grand Canal is known for being the grandest of them all. The Grand Canal, or otherwise known as “Canalasso” lays about 2 miles (3km) long, and weaves itself in a giant “S” that travels throughout the city. The Grand Canal starts at the city’s train station and ends at Piazza San Marco, the public square of Venice. Three bridges are laid within the Grand Canal alone, Ponte dei Scalzi, the Ponte d’Accademia, and Ponte Rialto. One of the most famous bridges of Venice, “The Bridge of Sighs”, is built across a more narrow canal at the Piazza San Marco.
The canals are used as the main source of transportation around the city. The narrow canal ways are decorated with work boats, ambulances, and garbage boats. The Venice canals are also home to buses, called vaporettos, and motoscafis that are used as “water taxis”. Nevertheless, the canal seems to be the most familiar, and comfortable, when holding the famous Italian gondolas. Gondolas are narrowly shaped boats that drift carelessly down the canals; steered by gondoliers, wearing the picturesque black and white striped shirts and wide-brimmed hats.
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Traveling the Venice Canals
Of course, since the city is practically cultured off of the water, a travel itinerary for Venice must include experiencing the city from the canals point of view. The canals can be traveled through in a various amount of ways:
A boat that only floats back and forth down the Grand Canal at seven points. The ride only takes a few minutes, and it’s inexpensive. Travelers can ride a traghetto by heading towards the nearest Traghetto pier and pay around 2 Euros to get rowed to the other side.
These are Venice’s public transport; travelers will buy a single ticket for 7 Euros, and choose which one of the designated stops to get off at. There are also Tourist Travel Cards that the ACTV (Venice’s bus and boat system) have created. The cards cost 20 Euros for one day, 30 for two days, 40 for three days, and 60 for one week. With the cards, travelers can hop on and off any Vaporetto and on all buses traveling within Venice. These cards can be purchased at any Vaporetto stop or on the boats themselves. Since the Vaporetti are used for public transport, they tend to be a bit crowded with other travelers and luggage, locals, and families.
These are available for half-day, full day, multi-day, or evening tours. Taking a kayak down the canals allows travelers to determine their own speed and direction. However, kayak rentals come with a guide so travelers will not be completely alone. The company, Venice Kayak, and their website: venicekayak.com, can be used to help travelers set up a tour or to get information for a personalized experience.
Every year, March to October, travelers may decide to use the mini-cruise on a Burchiello to explore the artistic history of the portrait-city, Venice. The cruise travels among the Venetian Villas of the Riviera del Brenta, from Padua to Venice, to reveal the hidden ancient art of the city. The Burchiello is used to transport passengers and contains a wooden cabin along with three or four balconies. It travels slowly down the Brenta waters with modern air-conditioning, toilets, and a bar. More information about the Burchiello tour can be found at this website http://www.ilburchiello.it. The prices of the tours can be quite varied based on which days a travelers is considering. From the site, prices can range anywhere from 55 Euros to 100.
Last, but not least, the famously favorite Gondola. Although, they are the “touristy thing to do”, riding in a gondola is practically a must-do. Riding in the gondolas allows travelers, and locals, to romantically connect with the city and the canals. Gondolas are not self-controlled, but travelers do get to tell the gondolier where to go. Also, be sure that you get the entire package of a full 40 minute ride and that the entire boat is yours for those minutes. There are six amazing gondola routes that have been recommended for travelers on the gondola; those routes can be found at the website of this link: http://www.gondolavenezia.it. Gondoliers can be found at the either ends of a particular route. It has been said that the gondoliers can be inflexible or sly people, but just talks politely, and if they give you a hard time, or try and rip you off, simply find another gondolier to speak to.
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Sleeping and Supper on the Venice Grand Canal
Traveling through the Venice canals will bring any traveler to complete euphoria; slowly drifting past magical architecture and engulfing the delicate way of life. But, what is better than being on the water for an afternoon is living on the water for the length of the travelers stay in Venice.
Hotels located on the Grand Canal can be found among websites like TripAdvisor, but travelers have recommended three specifically. Aman Canal Grande Venice Resort, Corte Di Gabriela, and NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci are among the many choices for hotels that reside directly on the Grand Canal. However, staying in luxury on the Grand Canal comes with a price; the hotels listed above range variably from the Corte Di Gabriela and the NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci averaging about 270 Euros/night and the Aman Canal Grande Venice Resort charging 1,055 Euros/night!
An expedition to Venice Canals wouldn’t be completely fulfilled without, of course, indulging in Italian cuisine. Honestly, it may be hard to eat “bad” food in any part of Italy, but depending on the mood of the evening, here are just a few options for travelers:
A fine dining Italian/Mediterranean seafood restaurant, Riviera is located right on the canals of Venice and in an artsy neighborhood. The atmosphere is one of romance and luxury, but the service is whispered to be phenomenal. The menu is filled with delectable options; however, the prices average to be about 62-162 Euros.
Address: Dorsoduro 1473, 30123 Venice, Italy