Monday, 23 August 2010

Fifth instalment

So yes, later that day we hopped onto a boat for a trip round the lagoon to see Venice from a different perspective, and to see some of the surrounding islands too. My geography is pretty rubbish so although I knew where Venice was within Italy and within the Mediterranean and Adriatic as a whole, I hadn't realised that the city is set inside a lagoon which is surrounded by other islands too. The first settlements in this area were on these outer islands but they proved too difficult to defend so the settlers moved to the 'inland' side of the lagoon. Only Napoleon has successfully conquered the city itself!

Each inhabited island around the lagoon is founded on low mud flats, and often the walls of the buildings appear to rise up directly from the water. The foundations are wooden poles driven deep into the mud to create a platform on which the structures are built. The whole area is vulnerable to flooding and has suffered from some severe floods at times, so big gates - tidal barriers - are being erected to help protect the islands from the Adriatic's tides.

OK, having jotted down my memories of the guided tour commentary, here are some pics!


Love the contrast of these two neighbouring islands - one entirely built up, the other with scarcely a building at all!


You see what I mean about the buildings rising straight from the water?


Amazing location for a monastery!


Lido is the exception to the no traffic rule. There's a car ferry from the mainland to this island.


We saw glimpses of the fortifications that helped protect these islands so well. If you look closely at the second pic you can see the openings within which large guns were set, right on the waterline.


At one point we were taken aback to see people apparently walking on the water!! In several places there are spits of land just under the surface of the water, and there are also sandbanks that are uncovered at low tide; these can reach quite far out from the islands so it can be disconcerting to see people walking or sunbathing in the middle of the lagoon!


Because of these sandbanks, boats have to be very careful to stay within the marked channels of deeper water. (In fact, these markers were pulled up during invasions - another way in which the Venetians defended their territory!) And there were some traditional beaches too:


And we saw some of the mud flats - the locals built onto these?!


A local industry is shellfish, and we saw people gathering them by stooping down in waist-deep water to reach the bottom without needing to go under:


In one area we saw work to rebuild an island that had been dug out some time ago. The locals realised that it had been helping to prevent some of the effects of the tides, so the outer rim had been formed and now water was going to be pumped out before more earth was brought in to fill it in.


Ambulances round here come in boat form...


Here are some contrasts. One of the oldest industries in Venice is, naturally, boatbuilding; this wasn't my prettiest photo, but it does show that the industry continues to this day, though not in such a big way! And then, right next to each other, we saw the oldest building of the lagoon: the cathedral of Santa Maria dell'Assunta, founded in AD 639; and the floodlights of a football ground:


After that we were heading back past Venice, snatching our last glimpses of St Mark's Square and all the other beautiful buildings, and craning our necks to gaze up a short stretch of the Grand Canal.



*sigh!* Venice, you were wonderful - such a highlight of our holiday. One day we'll return and explore you properly :-)

16 comments:

scrappyjacky said...

I have to agree with your 'wonderful' comment.....only downside was the smell...or have they managed to do something about that now?

humel said...

I didn't notice a smell Jacky, so maybe they have done something about it? Or maybe I have a very poor sense of smell!!

Liberty :) said...

gorgeous! ive been. i loved it! too many tourists there though. no smell for me either! i adore the word DOGE as well, I'll be saying it all evening now, not sure why!! Fab photos! :)

Rhona said...

More fantastic photos, thanks for sharing Mel! xx

Denise said...

Lovely photos Mel, you certainly have some lovely scrapping material there x

debs14 said...

Great pictures, you certainly paid attention to that guide! It's a fascinating city, you definitely need to return and explore it properly! Are you sure you have an album big enough for all these layouts that you will be doing?

Rachel B said...

Great pictures Mel, it looks gorgeous!

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

looks like a really wonderful trip!

Fiona said...

Looks and sounds like a fab holiday! And belated Happy Birthday wishes too.

mise said...

Did you bring us back a little handblown glass perfume bottle each? Mine broke in the scrum for the open-air opera, and I've been waiting nearly 14 years for someone to replace it. My hopes are high.

Karen said...

When I was in Europe 40 years ago, we were advised to skip Venice because of pollution and the smell. We did, and I've always been sorry.

Amy said...

The water ambulance got me - we have the flying doctors here for remote locations.
Beautiful Mel!

Maria Ontiveros said...

This brings back such great memories! We stayed for a week. We got out to Murano and really loved it.
Rinda

humel said...

Ah Mise, I'm so sorry - my luggage was so full of Bardolino wine that I couldn't fit in any glass other than a gorgeous necklace and earrings set from Murano.... I carefully avoided the open-air opera scrum in order to keep both wine and glass intact.

Sian said...

It does look stunning even the talk of the smell isn't putting me off!

scrappyjacky said...

20 years ago there was a definate 'stench',Mel....however poor your sense of smell,you would have noticed it!!!! They obviously have done something about it!!!