Today we took an hour train ride to get to Venice. After getting there, we went on a tour of the entire city, through many narrow streets and back alleys, over bridges and across canals. It’s full of history because they try extremely hard to preserve whatever they can of how the city was in the past. This makes it very interesting city due to the massive network of canals that goes throughout the whole city. In the past, this was extremely beneficial for the city because it was able to trade effectively with the rest of the world. Venice was know for its shipbuilders that helped the city trade with other places. It had easy access to be able to send their goods directly from where they lived to outside which was the fastest means of transportation in the past. The vast canals were able to have the goods from any part of the city quickly moved throughout and out of the city during trade. This was fantastic for Venice, which was a city of merchants. They were able to do very well for themselves with how quickly they could get their goods out.
It’s interesting to see how this geography of Venice affects day to day life. It’s said that Venice only has one true “piazza” or square, that life and markets revolve around. Since Venice is comprised of many small islands it makes sense that they would want to have some sort of centralized square in order to avoid just having tons of smaller squares. It makes more sense for commerce to have the one piazza. Even though there do exist other squares, they are nearly empty and have no merchants whatsoever. In other cities, this is completely not how they operate. Usually you have to refer to things as piazza of whatever the name is rather than just la piazza. There are plenty of squares because there are different parts of town. There’s uptown, downtown, etc. In Venice, there’s lot of sharp turning roads that navigate the canals and are relatively empty except for a few main ones with storefronts that typically lead from the biggest canal to la piazza.
The one problem that Venice experienced due to its landscape is that it didn’t transition as well into the modern age as well as many other cities. Places like Milan managed to cover up their canals once they were no longer useful, whereas Venice appears to be the one place where nearly all of them remain. This is due to the way that the islands are connected. This ultimately hindered the city because it can’t keep up in modern times. Milan was able to cover most up in order to serve as the business capital of Italy. They use the extremely practical roads in order to have it be easy for normal life and business in the city. If you are aiming to be like Milan, the canals just aren’t practical. It’s too hard for people in Venice to have normal life when the city is as it is. This forces Venice to be locked in as being a city primarily for tourists. They capitalize on that as hard as they can with the gondola rides and all the souvenirs, but it can never compete with Milan in business because as the city is right now, it just isn’t designed to. This seems to be a problem that in one way or another affects almost all major Italian cities other than Milan. They try to preserve heritage somehow and end up ruining their chances of establishing themselves as major players in the business world. The problem that seems to be that Venice would have a hard time switching over. Since there’s so much water around it, the way to get out of Venice is through one main entry point. This would cause traffic congestion when getting in or out of Venice. This makes it much more difficult to transport goods or for people to enter and exit without it being through the train. Everyday people can’t be forced to only take a train if they need to get to work in another city. If Venice wants to compete with Milan it would need a complete overhaul and I’d be concerned that while it was trying to get its footing in the business world it would lose it tourism and with that, most of its money for the time being.