If ever you want to visit a city that is like no other city on earth, one place you can bet on with certaintyy is Venice. The city lives on water. It gets flooded with impressive regularity and yet, life carries on in this floating paradise.
Venice, Italy today is a city built for tourists and together traditional glass blowing and a few handicrafts, not much of the original Venetian culture survives. Venice is a city where tourists outnumber locales by a healthy margin and the city survives on the tourist trade alone. Everything in the city is built around providing sights and comfort to the thousands who throng the city for their Venice vacations and can be seen crowed at the Venice beach.
Venice was inhabited in around the fifth century as the locals ran to hide from the marauding Arabs. They chose the swamps to hide. Over time, buildings came up in the region and the locals devised construction methods to keep their homes safe in the most difficult of all places to build them.
With time, Venice developed into a maritime empire that totally dominated the Eastern Mediterranean. However, with time the city changed hands and rulers. Venice has been ruled by France and the Hapsburgs. It was only in 1866 that the city finally joined the still developing kingdom of Italy.
Venice is perhaps best known for its acqua alta or the high water as it is known (lesser romantically). Occurring primarily during the winters, high tides sweep into the low lying parts of the city and flood them with a foot or so of water. The city welcomes the high water since it is a prime tourist attraction and tolerates it since it is nuisance as well! Most affected areas have raised sidewalks so that you can walk by without getting your feet wet and sirens wail to warn inmates well in time. The aqua alta is also quite predictable and a number of web sites give the exact dates and times of the next occurrences. Vacationers plan their Venice vacations according to these dates. Venice hotels are full of tourists at this time.
Can one visit Venice and not take a Gondola ride? Your visit is not complete unless you do. However, hiring a private gondola can be expensive. Costs typically hover around EUR75 for an hour. There is ample scope to bargain so do not hesitate. Words of caution though, do not hire unlicensed gondolas.
Venice, Italy has a long history and has monuments that have worn centers and can not be missed. The city also has a number of museums that are a must see. You can save considering on your tickets if you buy passes for a number of days. Here's wishing you a pleasant Venice vacations in this lovely city.