Venice ~ a look at local life

Patricia Sands

Surprise! As much as I love France and for all the time I spend there, I do enjoy travel to other places. I thought you might like to come to Venice with me. 973 photos in one week. Yes. I took that many. It’s impossible to resist the visual feast that is Venice, Italy.

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Ahhh … La Serenissima … I completely agree with this quote from the great writer Fran Lebowitz:

«If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is — Venice is better.»

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My husband and I spent an enchanted week in an apartment on the top floor (4th) of a former palazzo, overlooking the Grand Canal. Our small terrace provided a birds-eye view of local life on the Grand Canal and down the narrow winding streets that run off it. A  taste of that life is what I want to share with you today. Everyday living in the midst of extraordinary beauty and history.

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You can always see photos of the touristy side of Venice, spectacular as they are. Here are some images dealing with everyday life … all set against one of the most breathtaking backdrops in the world. Modern life unfolds in an ancient environment.

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Markets, including the famed Pescaria seafood stalls, have been held here since the 14th century.

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In spite of approximately 23 million visitors each year, Venice is stillIMG_24271 a living, breathing community of approximately 60,000.

It’s an easy and fascinating town to meander alleyways. Take a few photos of street names if you feel you might get lost. That’s part of the fun! The back streets are where the true heart of Venice lives.

Children play in the neighbourhood square (campo) found in each vibrant community,while their parents and grandparents sip espresso and exchange news. Local back street eateries offer delicious authentic Venetian food and may advertise “No pizza. No lasagne. No menu turistico.”

Be courteous. Don’t rush.

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The Venetian campo is the heart of a neighbourhood. It is an open, irregularly shaped paved space surrounded by buildings which vary in height up to five stories. The buildings often contain small businesses and services on the ground floor and private dwellings above.

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Wherever possible, elaborate window boxes are planted and rare but prized is the Venetian altana. These are roof terraces that provide a private space to relax with an apertivo and from which to admire the rooftops of Venice in all their splendour.

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In the 16th century, there were more than 10,000 elegant gondolas plying the waters of Venice’s canals. Today there are around 400 and all are made by hand. The job of gondolier is still a coveted profession, passed down from father to son over the centuries.

A typical gondola is built from nine different types of wood and several hundred parts. The often elaborately carved oarlock is called a forcola. The weighted bow ornament, or ferro, helps to counterbalance the weight of the gondolier who rows while standing on the boat’s stern.

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The oldest and most famous boatyard is in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood, not far from the Accademia bridge. The Squero di San Trovaso, established in the 17th century, isn’t open to the public, but anyone can enjoy a view of the skilled gondola craftsmen at work from the opposite bank of the San Trovaso Canal.

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There’s much more to explore than we’ve covered here. Take your time. Residents will tell you “Venezia è un parse ~ Venice is a village.” Savour the splendour of Venice but also treat yourself and discover what may be Venice’s greatest treasure … the continuity of everyday life through the centuries.

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The bustling local Cannaregio market street

To this day, my husband swears he has never had a more delicious espresso, perfectly served, than in Venice.

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All photography in this post is the copyright property of Patricia Sands.

If you are curious as to how the buildings of Venice were constructed, click right here.

Click here to read the fascinating history of the gondola.

For excellent, up to date travel information about Venice, click here, and here.

A confessed travel-addict, best-selling author Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else, and calls the south of France her second home. Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page or her website. There are links to her books, social media, and a monthly newsletter that has special giveaways and sneak peeks at her next book.

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Patricia Sands