Dayton Drugovich/Staff Reporter
The last time I was in Italy visiting some family members, I decided to make my way over to Venice to see one of the more famous European cities. Built on 117 islands connected by a labyrinth of bridges and canals, navigating around the city may seem daunting, but is actually quite easy. The city itself is strikingly beautiful and is by far one of the prettiest cities man has built. With the exception of the modern touches that you see every once in a while, the feeling you get walking around is as if you have stepped back a few hundred years. The heart of Venice is the Piazza San Marco, a huge public square that is a great starting point for your journey through the city.
Venice was originally built on such an awkward place because of its very effective natural defenses. Building on the marshy delta gives good access to the sea and makes invasion difficult. This access to the sea established Venice as a trading post for most of Europe where ideas, goods and food flowed from the Middle East and Asia to the rest of Europe. Even Marco Polo started his journey to Asia from Venice.
Using San Marco as your starting point, you can easily see the unique architectural style that Venice has become famous for. As you wind your way through some of the tiny passageways, some only big enough for one person, in between the buildings, you see even more. Around San Marco, there are lots of places to eat, many featuring outdoor seating (which should be your first choice) and all feature a traditional Italian menu to choose from.
Gondolas are synonymous with the city. Officially, they are €80 before 7pm and €100 after 7pm for 30 minute rides but those figures get manipulated quite frequently.
Some of the best shopping in the city is around the Rialto Bridge, the most well-known and largest bridge in the city. Spanning the Grand Canal, the bridge separates the San Marco and San Polo districts. The pedestrian traffic has worn the stone smooth and created divots on the steps from hundreds of years of foot traffic.
In keeping with tradition from the cities original founders, the shops still sell everything you could possibly imagine, but there are few things that Venice shopping is prized for: glass and silk. Silk was made by the silkworm and produced only in China. Venice being a meeting point between east and west made it center in the trade of silk. Murano glassmakers have become famous for their unmatched ability and have been the premier hand blown glassmakers in Europe for 1,200 years. Named Murano after the island itself, all glass makers have congregated there since the 8th century. With Middle Eastern and Asian influences, they honed their skills and created techniques hundreds of years ago that are now standard.
Venice is unique. The principles that the city was built on (trade and protection) serve no purpose in the world of today but because of its unmatched style and beauty, it has remained successful in its ability to draw people from all over the world to visit and take a
step back in time.