Venice is one of the few places on earth which has no true look-a-like somewhere else. There are quite a few expressions like “St Petersburg is the Venice of the north” – but whoever uses these figures of speak hasn’t obviously been in this dreamy Italian jewel of a city. There are also some places where people tried to recreate parts of Venice elsewhere, like as a shopping mall in Las Vegas, Nevada… but again: they didn’t succeed even half way.
While most cities which get compared to Venice just only do have a few more bridges than all the other cities surrounding them, the people in Las Vegas actually tried to copy the Venetian experience. And failed miserably. By trying to romanticise the house facades and making them look all the same, along an artificial small canal, they completely didn’t get the point which actually makes Venice a romantic place at all. They created something which is more likely to be just another suburb of any American city… with houses which all look the same under a fake blue sky ceiling.
The typical essence of Venice is something which can hardly be engineered. It has to somehow grow – and get old. The defining shared attribute of all city houses is: they were built very much as the builder wanted them to look like (concerning their height and width – and even the size of the floors) – it seems as no one cared at all about their neighbours… and somehow all the very different sized houses still look as they fit to each other perfectly. Something very natural… If you look up any organism you won’t find a lot similar things in it… Most living things only have one significant organ per function (except for stereophonic senses – like sight and hearing)… and that’s pretty much in Venice the case: you won’t find a house which looks like any other… but there is still is a vast amount of them.
Venice is actually quite a huge place – for a 1600-year-old city. What most people don’t know: it was once one of Europe’s biggest cities with 150.000 citizens in the 16th century. There are 175 channels and 398 bridges and nearly no new buildings at all. There are no straight pathways and no streets for cars at all. The only way you can get around here is by foot – and obviously by boat (or in fact: gondola). If you come here – do start to stroll around, but be sure to bring a map or at least a smartphone with some offline-maps of this city with you. Otherwise it’ll be hard to find your way back.
There’re some things you should definitely do… like: get a Hotel on the main Island… otherwise you’ll always be in a rush for the last boat / train… which often depart around 6 in the afternoon. Do taste the fish pasta. It’ll be very hard, if not impossible, to find a place where you’ll get better pasta with squid and seafood than here. Oh – and if possible: plan in some time to get properly lost in this city. You’ll feel like you’re in some fairyland Disney-fantasy. This might be one of the reasons, why one of the most interesting art conventions (and one the longest ongoing) happens in this town: the Biennale. Which starts today. Once you’re under the spell of Venice, no modern-world distractions are able to distract you from arts, culture, architecture, history and fine cuisine. Again: Do get lost here!