Today we went to Venice by train from Verona, which was a very efficient way to travel there. When we first approached the city, it was obviously surrounded by water, but it was very beautiful with many boats and buildings. It exceeded my expectations of everything I had though of it before. Walking through the streets, we came across many canals. There are 120 islands and therefore 200 natural canals. There were various boats, water taxis, and gondolas in the water, and at one point there was a traffic jam in the water. Also, I find it very interesting that the locals use the waterways as casually as we use streets. The city was originally run by merchants, which strengthened the republic. Aristocrats were even merchants and therefore powerful bankers. The geographical location of Venice allowed it to emerge and thrive in a unique way compared to other cities of Italy, while simultaneously affecting other aspects of the area.
To continue, Venice’s isolation due to it being an island has allowed it to be different from many other areas in Europe. In the past, everything was transported into and out of the city by boat, as there were no bridges or any train access to Venice as there are today. In regards to movement, this made things somewhat difficult. People would have to have access to a boat to leave or enter. Boats are a time consuming means of travel, and eventually the city had to adapt. They then incorporated over 400 bridges in the city to make traveling around it, into it, and out of it easier. Venice’s unique geographic situation has also affected the city’s lifestyle. Since they are fairly isolated, they have many of their own unique customs. First, the Carnival of Venice is celebrated right before Easter as a Catholic holiday and incorporates a plethora of unique and beautiful masks. These masks are a sort of symbol of Venice, because it is their tradition to make and wear them during the Carnival. They were able to develop this creative and distinctive custom because they are a close knit community with similar values. Another aspect of lifestyle that the city’s geographical location has inspired is how casual and common it is to own a boat. In the US, it is pretty rare that most people you know own or take boat rides casually, but in Venice, both are very normal. Usually it is only the upper class that actually owns their own boats, but most people take them often through the water taxi service or the ferry. I was surprised to learn that the gondolas have become solely a tourist attraction now, but I guess they really are not the most efficient way to travel. Also, some other interesting aspects of Venetian culture include their unique dialects and foods. I learned today that Venetians speak with some different slang terms than other Italians, and that they have their own way of cooking some foods. This too, of course, can be attributed to their geographic isolation.
In addition, Venice has a long history with their own way of trade. Venetians invented the insurance system in order to protect their trips overseas, since they had to transport everything by boat. This could be risky sometimes. Also, since the main way the island made money was through retail and trade, the Venetians invented the precursor to the credit card in order to make transactions more accessible to everyone. Due to the island’s unique geographical location, many improvements and innovations were made to buying and selling in the trading industry.
In conclusion, Venice is a beautiful city located in a large lagoon of Italy. It is comprised of many islands, and therefore has had to be innovative in order to improve its efficiency. Boats were not enough for the city, and eventually they had to build bridges and train stations in order to connect the city and the rest of the country. They have also developed some of their own cultural lifestyle elements through their isolation, including language, food, and, my favorite, the Carnival of Venice. These characteristics help set this city apart from the rest in Italy. Also, since the city is very isolated and had a main focus on trade, they practically invented the insurance system and the credit cards to help run their business. Overall, it is a unique city with a rich history.