Exploring Venice (2nd ed)
AbeBooks Seller Since November 1, 1997Quantity Available: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since November 1, 1997Quantity Available: 1
About this Item
Title: Exploring Venice (2nd ed)
Book Condition:Very Good
About this title
P>Fodor's Exploring Guides are the most up-to-date, full-color guidebooks available. Covering destinations around the world, these guides are loaded with photos, essays on culture and history, descriptions of sights, and practical information. Full-color photos make this a great guide to buy if you're still planning your itinerary (let the photos help you choose!) and it's a perfect companion to a general guidebook, like a Fodor's Gold Guide.
All the great sights plus the history and anecdotes that bring them to life
· Extraordinary coverage of history and culture
· Itineraries, walks and excursions, on and off the beaten path
· Architecture and art
Practical tips and full-color maps and photos
· Getting there and getting around
· When to go and what to pack
· Quick tips on where to sleep in every price range
· Savvy restaurant picks for all budgets
Praise for Fodor's Exploring Guides
"Most travel guides are either beautiful or practical. This one is both." -- New York Daily News
"Beautiful...and the depth of text is impressive." -- San Diego Union Tribune
"Authoritatively written and superbly presented...worthy reading before, during, or after a trip." -- Philadelphia Inquirer
"Concise, comprehensive, and colorful." -- Washington Post
"Absolutely gorgeous. Fun, colorful, and sophisticated." -- Chicago Tribune
The City's Effect
A city as singular as Venice was always likely to produce singular citizens. In surroundings where, as Goethe put it, "the place of street and square and promenade was taken by water...the Venetian was bound to develop into a new kind of creature." "Like the tide -- six hours up and six hours down" runs a Venetian proverb, alluding to the Venetians' swings of character and notoriously mercurial moods. "As among brute beasts," wrote Pius II rather less charitably, "aquatic creatures have the least intelligence, so among human beings the Venetians are the least just and the least capable of humanity."
The Influence of History
The city has touched its citizens in other ways, not least in its fall from power over the centuries. Many claim this accounts for a sardonic strain in the Venetian character. According to Mary McCarthy, Venetians still feel themselves to be chosen, but "chosen in a twofold sense, singled out on the one hand for special favours and, on the other, to be mocked by Fate." This sense of separateness, of being "excluded from the fold of other nations" in the words of Jan Morris, also accounts for the Venetians' occasional wistfulness -- "the introspective melancholy pride of a people on their own." The city's historical legacy, and in particular its links with the Orient, perhaps also accounts for the Venetians' penchant for elegance and decoration. Wiliness, cunning, and clever speech -- all celebrated Venetian traits -- may also derive from the city's past, bred from a mercantile acumen accumulated over centuries.
Venice's past and its lonely singularity perhaps also give rise to the Venetians' peculiarly un-Italian instinct for cooperation and sense of civic pride. In the past, when the state was all, individual prowess was invariably sacrificed to the common good. Venice has few statues, having long ignored the cult of the individual. These days Venetians still pull together, displaying a unity of purpose conspicuous by its absence in Rome or Naples. The result is a clean, efficiently run city distinguished by little crime, no vandalism, and a sense of civilized decorum in the streets and squares.
Old and New
For all its introspection and isolation, Venice's links with the East and its role as a melting pot of cultures have also given Venetians a reputation for tolerance and cosmopolitan élan. Visitors to the city -- whose numbers should give Venetians every reason for rudeness -- usually find their hosts unfailingly kind and courteous (yet who knows how often they have directed dazed tourists to the Rialto or St. Mark's?). Venetians are also industrious and hard-working -- despite a reputation among Italians for laziness -- and yet are reputed to enjoy their wine somewhat more than they should. Today, however, the question is not so much whether Venetians are good or bad, but whether their once unique characteristics are enough to stop the drift away from the city created by their strange talents.
History of Flooding
Venice has always been prone to inundation. An early chronicle recalls how in A.D. 589 "the waters changed their usual course and the whole land took on the appearance of a marsh." In 885, a report spoke of water "invading the whole city, penetrating the houses and the churches." In 1250, according to a contemporary, "the water rose from eight o'clock until midday. Many were drowned in their houses or simply died of the cold." This century the situation has grown worse. In the 50 years prior to 1916 there were just seven floods. In the half century from 1916 to 1966, the year of Venice's most famous deluge, there were 54 -- 30 of them in the last 10 years.
Disturbing the Lagoon
The cause of the floods is simple -- high tides, coupled with southeasterly winds, fill Venice and the lagoon to overflowing. Why they have grown worse is more elusive. Some claim the melting of the polar ice caps has raised the level of the Adriatic. Others say the level of the Po basin, of which Venice forms a part, has been sinking. All agree that natural factors have been exacerbated by man-made mistakes. Land reclamation has removed the lagoon's marshes (once a buffer against high tides). Dredging, and the deepening of shipping lanes, has altered tides and currents. And the churning of boats, especially in Venice itself, has led to the erosion of the seabed.
The chief culprit, however, has been the extraction of water to service the factories of Marghera. Bore holes, first sunk in the 1930s, numbered 55 by 1969 and were taking 423,000 gallons of water hourly from the 984 feet of silt and clay underpinning Venice's foundations. The result was to lower the water table and with it the city. Extraction was curtailed -- but not stopped -- in 1973. But while the water table recovered, Venice -- whose subsidence, say experts, is "unrecoverable" -- did not.
Venice first started building sea defenses -- albeit of clay and wickerwork -- in the 14th century. The first stone defenses were laid between 1744 and 1751 and were repaired in 1846 by the Austrians, who set aside the equivalent of $1.5 million a year for their maintenance. As early as 1501, a conservation body, the Magistrato alle Acque (which exists to this day), already conscious of the lagoon's delicate balance, had declared a "zone of respect" around the city in which reclamation and barricades were prohibited.
Laws alone, however, were ineffectual. Today more radical solutions are deemed necessary. After years of discussion, the MOSE project, a $5 billion scheme to lay 80 movable steel dikes at the three entrances to the lagoon, has been adopted. Work was begun in 1988 and is due for completion in the near future, but there are many who now doubt not only the project's wisdom, but also whether it will do the job for which it was designed.
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