City Guide Venice

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Venice

Issue 01/2016

 venice

Text Ilona Marx, Photos Bernd Wichmann

Resting on wooden poles driven into sandy, muddy foundations, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There aren’t many places that it can be compared to. The lagoon city is built on more than 100 islands, connected by around 400 bridges. Approximately 175 canals serve as a road network – all the transportation takes place on the water. The main traffic route is the four-kilometre long Canal Grande, not to mention numerous waterways outside the historical city centre. But if you want to have a wander around, you can do it without getting your feet wet: in the 3000 alleys and lanes that complete the cityscape.

From the Rialto Bridge to Doge’s Palace, down to St. Mark’s Basilica – as a result of its extraordinary architecture and wealth of art treasures, Venice was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. But the beauty of the city also brings its downsides: an estimated 20 million tourists visit Venice every year. The majority are day-trippers, who arrive on the big cruise ships and spend little money, but leave behind a lot of rubbish. Venice is also sinking continuously – in the past century the city has sunk 23 centimetres into the sea. The shifting foundations on which the buildings stand are giving way under their weight.

And Venice’s population is shrinking. Around 270,000 inhabitants live in the greater area, and just 60,000 in the old town. Forty years ago the figure was twice as high. And despite having a university with over 20,000 students, the average age is 46 years old. There are few supermarkets and small bakeries, but plenty of souvenir shops and tourist cafés. 50 percent of Venetians are employed in the tourism industry.

But in addition to mass tourism, there’s another side to Venice: the international art and film scene regularly descends on the lagoon city. The world’s oldest Biennale – which was established back in 1895 – is an absolute must-attend event for anyone in the art world. During this time the city is brimming with high-profile exhibitions and a culture-savvy audience, who reduce the shortsand- sandals quota. But even older than any art event is Venice’s craftsmanship tradition. Glassware, textiles and leather goods have all made their historic contribution to the wealth of the city and its region; this is where one of their most popular exports, the famed elegant glass is produced, on the island of Murano, which belongs to Venice. Several tradition-steeped clothing companies have also settled in the environs of Venice. One such example is Barena Venezia, which pays tribute to its origins by basing its collections on the clothing of the lagoon inhabitants of the past. On page 66 you can read our interview about Venetian style and quality made in Italy with the brains behind the label.

Whether original Italian or of international quality – Venice also has plenty of surprises up its sleeve when it comes to shopping, not to mention its impressive culinary offer. J’N’C’s editor-in-chief Ilona Marx and photographer Bernd Wichmann both jumped at the opportunity to return here in a professional capacity.

 

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