You know what I probably like most about Europe? It's small (as far as continents go), rich in culture and there are countless fascinating destinations just a few hours away, no matter where you live. So many in fact that I haven't even been to some of the most popular in my area, but just recently I went to see one that was long overdue.
Venice, the most important touristic destination in Italy after Rome, is listed as a world heritage site in its entirety. Referred to be one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in the world it is visited by a whopping 20 million people a year.
Due to the city's immense popularity and the huge amount of tourists it can be hard to make one's way through the narrow roads. During my stay in February there were already quite some people there but still only half as many as in the high season from May to September.
A unique aspect is the complete absence of cars and trucks from almost the whole island. All the transportation still takes place by foot and via the complex network of waterways, just like centuries ago.
The ever rising cost of housing, transportation and food had many Venetians move to the main land. Just as the number of tourists is increasing, the number of locals declines. Some analysts even say that Venice could turn into a ghost town by 2030 that will be solely populated by tourists during daytime and essentially empty during the night.
The falling number of locals combined with mass tourism also leads to increased deterioration on the buildings that can be observed almost everywhere.
Venice was one of the most important centers also for interior design, especially the luxurious rococo style furniture belonged to the finest in Europe.
The center of the old town forms around the St Mark's Square with the most notable buildings concentrated there.
The Palazzo Ducale is connected to the prison building on the opposite side of the channel via the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). The name originated from the alleged sighs of the convicts that were taken from the courtroom to the jails while they had a last view on the outside world.
The Campanile di San Marco was originally intended to serve as a lighthouse and watchtower and is now the main Landmark of Venice.
Especially well known is the Venetian gothic architectural style with that can be seen everywhere in the old town. Unique are the oriental influences from Byzantine and Moorish Spain.
Where is the Rialto Bridge?
As it sometimes can happen very old structures need repairs and in the duration of my stay the Rialto Bridge unfortunately was under complete renovation. This means it was covered in scaffolding and huge advertisement banners. The sight wasn't worth a shutter actuation – better luck next time.