It’s a city of bridges and canals and gondolas and pigeons and palaces and masks. And Venice in the morning is beautiful, when the streets shine with water and dawn. The worn stone steps, the parquet floors, the iconic architecture. It’s all so utterly Venice.
But these winding labyrinthine streets and the buildings that tower over them are nothing without the people that fill them. The houses were built by humans, the boats are steered by them, the pigeons are fed by them. The wooden pillars the city stands on were driven into the seabed by people and it’s people who are the heart of this great island.
The People of Venice
Even in January the canals are alive. The boatmen come with their rubbish barges, delivery boats and traghettos to take you from one side of the grand canal to the other. Students study in rooms overlooking the misty lagoon and waiters balance plates along their arms. The polizia stroll the squares, the military trudge through puddles with assault rifles tapping against their legs.
And it’s the tourists that wander for hours and days and get lost. The only way to find somewhere is to not look for it. Solo travellers, weekend adventurers and couples sharing a pizza.
This city is its people. Just as its water runs through its veins like blood, the city’s people are its nutrients. Ever busy, ever touching its stone walls, ever connected.
They keep it alive, for without them it would surely sink without a trace. They prop it up relentlessly as it supports their footfall. The two are inseparable.
There is nowhere you can go without the hint of another human. An empty street doesn’t stay empty for long. But the Italians are at home and the tourists are in love. This is Venezia.
Want to read about more European cities? How about La Coruña; the glass city.