In this series I’ll be looking at places I’ve visited and what meaning they have had for me or my stories, what inspiration I’ve drawn from them or what strange link I have in my head between these places and some of my characters. I’ll be looking at Paris, Corfu, France (including the Pyrenees), Scotland, Lanzarote Lapland and more! So keep reading for some entertaining rambling and some lovely pictures! (And if you’re here from my Youtube video say Hi in the comments below.)
This week I’m going to talk about Venice.
What I knew about the place?
I’d say I knew the usual amount about Venice to be honest. It’s such an iconic place that it’s probably impossible not to have heard of it. Certainly going in I had a mental image of a city on a lagoon, which –though having survived for hundreds of years and carrying its history in its art and churches, having witnessed Carnival after Carnival throught the years –is slowly sinking beneath the very waters which make it so unique. I also knew it was a heavily visited tourist destination so I was glad we were going in winter (i.e. out of season).
Turns out my mental image was quite true but lets expand on that.
Venice is situated in the northeast of Italy and is the capital of the Veneto region. It is formed by a collection of islands of varying sizes totaling at 118! Canals and bridges separate or link the islands together so that you cannot help but remember that this city is built on the Venetian Lagoon, despite just how large some of its churches are or how grand it’s plazas are. And talking of impressive, the aforementioned bridges? Yeah there are 400 of those!
Venice is built on closely spaced wooden piles, plates of limestone are placed on top of these and the foundations of the buildings built on top of those with the brick and stone building being the Venice we see in the photos or when visiting. It’s staggering to think that you can be walking on what feels like a completely solid stone square but that in reality it is help up by wood!
Venice has had many names throughout its history including “City of Masks,” “City of Bridges,” “The Floating City,” and “City of Canals.” among many others and historically it was the capital of the Republic of Venice which was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It’s unique location allowed it to build up its wealth, act as staging area for the Crusades, and become a centre of art between the 13th and 17th Centuries.
Now however it seems to be facing more and more challenges from financial difficulties to subsidence and a major part of its lifeblood is also causing its fall: tourism. Tourism causes problems primarily in the form of oversized cruise ships on the Grand Canal. But UNESCO has been putting pressure on the Italian government to end the Cruise Ships right of passage, even declaring that they will place the city on the list of endangered heritage sights if the government does not act. In November 2017 the Italian government has announced that it will divert the cruses but that it will take several years to prepare the new route.
What I thought when I was there?
Well I was glad I went in winter; not only was there not nearly the large amount of tourists that you see in pictures but I’ve been told that the canals smell in summer due to sewage, I don’t know if that’s true but I can tell you that it didn’t smell bad in winter. I also going in winter because I got to see it with Christmas lights up, got to see a glass Christmas tree (see photograph) and got to drink their thick hot chocolate (which you could basically eat with a spoon) without feeling like it wasn’t justified by the weather.
I’ve also always loved architecture, stone buildings, statues and churches so this city was basically perfect as I couldn’t turn a street without seeing something else beautiful I wanted to photograph! (And if you want to see more photos check out my Instagram or Tumblr, I post more photos there.)
It’s beautiful and was one of my favourite holidays and one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to!
What impact did it leave on me/my characters? Did it inspire anything?
As with almost all of these I can’t say that there was a direct impact on my stories but it’s the experiences, thoughts and feelings that I take away from these places. I loved the feeling of beauty, of age, of such wonderful structures built on what at times seemed to be shaky foundations.
It’s an easy city to get swept up in, to dream in and to get a sense of everything from the holy to the decadent.
It’s a city to experience, a completely different way of life, a place that makes you think differently because its founders certainly did and as such it’s a perfect place to let your imagination wander.
What do you think of Venice? Would you go? Where are you the most inspired, at peace or motivated? Let me know in the comments below.