They say Venice has more artistic masterpieces per square metre than any other place in the world. Believe it. Where else could capture hearts and minds as diverse as Marco Polo, Casanova and Coco Chanel? At first sight, it’s impossible not to fall under its spell. This city is utterly and undeniably fascinating.
Founded over 1500 years ago by refugees fleeing from from Attila the Hun, the marshy lands were intended to provide a temporary safe haven. The settlers hurriedly built houses on stilts, dropping wooden poles into the swamp-bed and balancing their homes on top.
Although the houses are sturdier these days, Venice is still very much a city of water. You can barely walk for more than a few minutes without crossing the bridge of a canal and the only way to get around is by boat, be it gondola, water taxi or public water bus. The water is a dreamy shade of jade green. It doesn’t stink like some say and is almost transparent in places.
The streets are narrow, dark and labyrinth-like. There is a sense of timelessness about the buildings – strict planning laws keep it that way, but that’s only part of the reason.
In the summertime, the light that rains down on the canals and laneways cries out to be immortalised in a painting or re-told in a story. But words and images can only express so much. Venice is a city that needs to be seen to be believed.