Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site

Main Page This family-friendly site celebrates Italian culture for the enjoyment of children and adults. Site-Overview



Venice, La Fenice Opera House, Carnevale, Virtual Tours...

Below:  Unique photochrome Images of Venice circa 1890


Venice 1860

Photo Tours

Old Venice


Venice Art




Vaporetti - Boat Busses

The Local Point of View

La Fenice Opera House


Carnevale - Carnival

Some Sources Info, Hotels...

Virtual Tours and Real Tours


Photochrome Images 1890

Cesare Colonnese

Aqua Alta





Venice was the world's first corporation.  From very early on, the city-state was run by a Board of Governors, headed by a Director, all of whom presided over a company administrative staff, in a company headquarters, with subsidiary offices in their area of business interests, and those working for the company received salaries and shares in her profits.

You can replace all the company terms with Venetian ones, but the meaning is the same.





Here is an interesting quote from The Economist: explaining how the move from an "inclusive economic structure", which allows for shared wealth and upward mobility, to an "exclusive economic structure", which locks wealth into the hands of an oligarchic elite and dooms a society to instability and eventual poverty, contributed to Venice's economic downfall.

"...Venice provides a cautionary tale.  Upward mobility drove the city-state's wealth and power.  Its innovative commenda, a partnership in which capital-poor sailors and rich Venetians shared the profits from voyages, allowed those of modest background to rise through the ranks.  This fluidity threatened established wealth, however,  From the later 13th century the ducal council began restricting political and economic rights, banning the commenda and nationalising trade.  By 1500, with a stagnant economy and falling population, Venice's descent from great power was well under way."



Venice from space

Courtesy of GoogleEarth.



Note the Grand Canal snaking through from the train station, on the left, to Saint Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace at the right end of the canal.

The large pool of water toward the right end of Venice is The Arsenal, a huge boat-ship building facility that produced, assembly-line style, the ships that made Venice a naval power and trading-rich Republic.

Giudecca is the island(s) at the bottom of the image. 

San Michele, the cemetery island, sits above Venice. 

Murano, the glass-making island, is above San Michele.






The wondrous things that can be made of glass...

Only seeing is believing.  Until you have a chance to visit Murano island and its many shops and the foundries in operation, I have some images you can enjoy on my Murano Page.  Many of the small glass tourist souvenirs are now made in China.

Visit my Murano Glass page for inspiring images.


Yes, this is made of glass!


As is this...







There are other islands in the Venetian lagoon.  About 40 minutes from Venice by boat bus (vaporetto) is the island of Burano.

From my experience, there comes a moment when visiting Venice, that the crumbling decay of the once glorious buildings, and the graffiti on walls from the 1200s, makes me depressed.  If that happens to you, I suggest a trip to Burano.  It is light, airy, colorful and beautifully tended. 

The people are, generally speaking, ruder to tourist than the ones in Venice.  If they can make money from you, they are a bit better than average.


It is a living community of fishermen and women.  Once famous for the lace-makers, it is now just a nice side trip from Venice.




I have a page dedicated to Burano.






Art and Artists

The Venetian school of art overflows with artists and their masterpieces.  To help prepare for a visit, visit my pages with short, illustrated biographies of these artists.  You can see works by these artists in the Accademia Galleries in Venice, and in many of the hundred or more churches in Venice.








If modern art is more to your liking, you must visit the Guggenheim Museum in Venice.  



To read about Peggy Guggenheim and her modern art museum in Venice, click on the image to go through to my Art page

And the Biennale, the world's top modern art event, happens every two years in Venice.  Countries sponsor displays of the work by their top artists.  Venice's famous 'Biennale', or arts program, includes the Venice Film Festival, among dance, music, art ... exhibits.


Canaletto's view of the main square of Venice.


  You can visit my Venice Art - Canaletto page for more images and info.  The Venetian palace, now a lovely, human-sized museum, Ca' Rezzonico, has two Canalettos in their collection.




Here is an image of the canal-level entrance to the Grand Canal palace Ca' Rezzonico.



And the main staircase of Ca' Rezzonico.



And a view from the top floor, looking out on the garden in the back (to the right), and the view over the rooftops and rio (a small canal).







Scuola Grande di San Rocco's wonderful website, including a virtual tour.  Worth a visit!  And in Venice the visit to the lavishly decorated meeting hall is sure to leave you in shock, so plan to take a break after the visit so you can recover.






Some Sources for Venice Info - Hotels... a site that lists accommodations in Venice that cost about 35 pp/pn


Places on Line - Venice Guide





Home Away Holiday Rentals - Owner direct rentals, no middleman


I used this recently for a trip to Venice, and it was wonderful.  Living in an apartment makes you have a greater appreciation for Venice, and the daily trials and tribulations of her permanent residents. 

And renting directly from the owner cuts out the agents, who generally provide terrible service, and who tend not to care if you complain or have problems, because they are sure they will find other suckers.  Owners care more about return visits, and bad reviews on the rental site website.



 offers a wide selection of boutique hotels in Italy.  You can search the selection by price, popularity, region, city, and even by hotel type (i.e. boutique, historic, gourmet, family, design, luxury, romantic, spa, nature and many, many more) and features such as internet, city, sea, pool, spa, and many more.  There is even an option to check for those hotels offering the best discounted prices.  I link here to their Veneto Hotels.





For more on Venice's sights, try this Venice Desitination Guide.  The service also offers wonderful Destination guides for hundreds of Italian cities, including:

  • Top Attractions
  • Top Restaurants
  • Traveler's Photos
  • Top Cities and Towns (hundreds)










Views on Venice offer apartments for rent in Venice, and as a bonus, provide this useful map, via Google Maps, with their apartments marked, along with supermarkets, some shops and many restaurants.






Try Truly Venice for exclusive apartments for short and long-term rental.  They offer apartments in four categories:  Romantic, Contemporary, Comfort, and Classic (my favorite). They offer other tourist services like yacht hire, catering and private guides.








Forgive me if I borrow a preface from another writer's book for this page.  But I suspect that borrowing from Henry James can be easily forgiven.

This preface is to the chapter on Venice from Henry James's 1909 book "Italian Hours".


"Venice.  It is a great pleasure to write the word; but I am not sure there is not a certain impudence in pretending to add anything to it. 

Venice has been painted and described many thousands of times, and of all the cities of the world is the easiest to visit without going there. 

Open the first book and you will find a rhapsody about it; step into the first picture-dealer's and you will find three or four high-coloured "views" of it.

There is notoriously nothing more to be said on the subject.  Every one has been there, and every one has brought back a collection of photographs. 

There is as little mystery about the Grand Canal as about our local thoroughfare, and the name of St. Mark is as familiar as the postman's ring.

It is not forbidden, however, to speak of familiar things, and I hold that for the true Venice-lover Venice is always in order.

There is nothing new to be said about her certainly, but the old is better than any novelty.  It would be a sad day indeed when there should be something new to say.

I write these lines with the full consciousness of having no information whatever to offer.  I do not pretend to enlighten the reader; I pretend only to give a fillip to his memory; and I hold any writer sufficiently justified who is himself in love with his theme."







There are classic books about Venice available for free on the Internet's most wonderful source for classic books:  Project Gutenberg. 

These are links to the download pages for these FREE books.  They are available in various formats, such as EPUB, Kindle, plain text, HTML, and others.

But there is also a button on the page, that you can click on if you wish to just read the book online.  But I suggest you read the books online by selecting the HTML version.  That way you can see all the book's images, and the text chapters are hyperlinked.


John Ruskin's authoritative classic:

  • The Stones of Venice, Volume III (of 3) (English) (as Author)
  • The Stones of Venice, Volume II (of 3), (English) (as Author)
  • The Stones of Venice, Volume I (of 3) (English) (as Author)


    Henry James's travelogue which includes Venice:

    Italian Hours (English) (as Author)



    Casanova's Memoirs with some parts in Venice:

    Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt



    E. V. Lucas's travelogue:

    Wanderer in Venice



    Artist Albrecht Dürer's memoirs part in Venice:

    Memoirs of Journeys to Venice and the Low Countries



    Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull's historical romance novel set in 1570s Venice, written in 1900, which gives a good impression of what it might have been like to live in the Venetian Republic. But the book can be a hard slog when the battle between Venice and the Popes begins:

    Golden Book of Venice



    F. Marion Crawford's romance novel set in 1450s Venice and Murano was written in 1901.  The author weaves a very entertaining historical romance novel from historical fact and imagination.  Zorzi, a famous Dalmation-Venetian glassmaker is the male love interest.  Marietta, the daughter of Barovier, a famous Venetian glassmaker, is the willing object of Zorzi's love.  I highly recommend the book to lovers of historical romances.

    Marietta (Maid of Venice)



    If you like to read fiction set in contemporary Venice, and you are a fan of classic murder mysteries, I can recommend Edward Sklepowich's series featuring his sleuth "Urbino Macintyre". 



    And there is a wonderful historical mystery series set in Venice in the mid-late1700s, by Beverle Graves Myers: the Tito Amato Series.


    You can read more about these two series, and learn of others, on my Mysteries set in Italy page.



    Venice is called the Serenissima, or the Most Serine, because of it's serene beauty, and for the quiet atmosphere created by waterways running through the town rather than roads, for the boats instead of cars, and for the feeling of stepping back in time.  Some call it the Queen or Jewel or Pearl of the Adriatic.

    I prefer to call it magical, especially when the fog is blurring her rougher edges, and mist has given every stone a reflective sheen.


    The geographic isolation of Venice has contributed to the unique character and dialect of Venetians.  They are famously soft-spoken, sweet-tempered and mild-mannered, in an Italy more known for it's extraversion.  The spoken dialect sounds like a whispered song; very sensual.

    Although that has changed in the last two decades, since mass tourism has displaced many local residents, and many of those who remain have become jaded, surly and at times outright rude.  And the illegal immigrants who sell on the street corners can be frighteningly aggressive, and the hawkers outside the restaurants can be irritatingly.

    Remember this...

    No books, videos, photos or words can adequately prepare anyone for a trip to Venice. 

    Once on the boat-bus, il vaporetto, cruising down the Grand Canal, the unique reality that is Venice hits full force.  The size, beauty, water-streets, crumbling extravagance... The result is a stupor, the early phase of Stendhal Syndrome, the illness caused by an over-indulgence in magnificent art and culture.

    Rialto Bridge

    Stendhal Syndrome, in mild to severe form, follows all visitors to Venice during their stay there.  Every turn of a corner presents to the eye something new, fascinating, beautiful, evocative, things never before imagined.


    The cumulative effect of all this, is a numbness of the brain.  One finds one's senses shutting down.  Suddenly mundane things push themselves into the brain.  While standing before the Baroque exuberance of St. Moses Church, for example, you can hear tourists talking about gossip from back home.  It is a defense mechanism.

    When you find yourself doing that, it is best to return to your hotel or apartment to rest and recover, before setting out again to make more beautiful discoveries.

    Here is nice freebie.  This is a history of Venice, and a guide to all the districts of Venice.  The book is available to download via Gutenberg Press, in various formats including Kindle and EPub.  You and also consult it online in the HTML version.


    Vaporetti - Boat Busses

    There are no cars or busses in Venice.  Not even bicycles are allowed.  Transport is via foot or via boat.  Take comfortable walking shoes!   I have seen too many silly women wearing high heels or ballerina slippers without any foot support or padding.  That is just asking for trouble after a few hours roaming around on Venice's stone paving.

    Vaporetto - Bus-boat

    Actually, take several pairs of comfortable walking shoes with you.  You will want to alternate them.  And some soft inserts are a big help against the pounding your feet will take from the cobblestones and stone slabs.  Also bandages, plasters, salves...

    To visit the most in the shortest amount of time, it is a good idea to use the boat-busses, vaporetti.  There are several passes available that cover everything from 12 hours to a week.  A single trip is 7 Euros.  They are expensive and crowded, and the staff treat you with contempt, so if you have the money, hire a taxi, and if you have lots of money, hire a boat for your trip.

    Inside the prow of a vaporetto

    Check your plans, see which vaporetto pass can save you the most money, then you can purchase the tickets/passes at the Tobacconist shops throughout Venice, or from the machines situated at the larger vaporetto stops, or at manned ticket booths at some of the stops.

    Buy a good Venice map, and you will find all the bus-stops indicated, and the bus-lines.  You can use the vaporetti to around Venice, Giudecca, the Lido, to the cemetery, Murano, Burano and other islands.

    A vaporetto (bus) stop, indicated by the yellow bands, and the name of the stop

    There are usually two ramps:  one for disembarking passengers, and one for boarding passengers.  All the disembarking passengers are given right-of-way.  Then the boarding passengers are allowed on. 

    Be ready for some pushing, falling and nasty things said by the Italians about everyone, thinking that like so many of them, no one speaks another language than their mother-tongue.

    In fact, you have will have nasty stuff said about you, or about people around you, sometime at many times during your visit to Venice.  The general level of courtesy is very low these days.  Some shout in your face insults, especially the teenaged boys.  Older men have been seen making catcalls, calling attractive women whores.  And the middle ages of men have been heard saying cruel things about foreign women's heights, hair, clothes, weight, sexual preference, partners, etc.

    What is behind all this nastiness is something for a shrink to figure out, or a sociologist.  Resentment, a sense of inferiority, or basic cruelty?  Whatever it is, it can ruin a trip to Venice.  Maybe that is their intention?  Mass tourism has made the phenomenon more pronounced.  Just a warning...

    Rialto's vaporetto stop on the left

    Here is the same stop from the other perspective, with the Rialto Bridge, lined with shops, in view behind boat moorings

    You have to put your vaporatto ticket/pass before a time-clock before boarding.  It registers the time and route automatically, and if you watch the machine's face closely, you can see when you pass will expire, if it is a time-pass.


    The Local Point of View

    A colleague from Venice once confided in me the four things that most worry Venetians.  This was back before the EU forced Venice to allow the free purchase of property, and to no longer restrict sales to locals or children of locals.

    • the diminishing number of Venetians living in Venice,
    • the imported glass, lace and paper products sold as "Venetian",
    • mass-tourism ruining quality of life,
    • and the annual flooding that drapes raw sewage over streets and houses.


    Doges Palace with the bell-tower behind

    Today, many Venetian property owners have sold up, others are selling up, at prices that rival New York City.  And like New York City, Venice is home to the super-rich, the rich, a small middle-class, and many poor.  City workers cannot afford to buy property in Venice, so they live outside the city and commute to work. 

    But unlike New York City, Venice is home to no other major business but tourism.  For this reason, it is, in reality, a dying city.  It is an amusement, or historical park for the world's tourists. 

    To be honest, the administrators of the city could learn a lot from Disneyland and the other amusement park management companies, about how to make the tourist's visit a success.  Instead, the city enchants, but the city administration, the public workers, the services, and the residents disappoint, leading to millions of blog reports of all the negatives encountered on the expensive visit to Venice.



    There are too many cases to mention here of the city arranging something so that the tourist has to pay more, or for something not necessary, rather than offering helpful information or a useful service.  The impression remains with many visitors of having been ripped-off, abused, mistreated.


    La Fenice

    La Fenice is the town's famous opera house and performance hall.  Their website is full of history, concert schedules, a shop and photos.  It is very difficult to navigate and to understand.  The prices are very expensive and many of the seats do not even have a clear view of the stage. 

    You can see the theatre when there are no shows, as a tour.  Check at the theatre for the times and prices.


    Two images from opening night at La Fenice in December 2003.

    La Fenice burned down in 1996 but has recently risen from the ashes.  To fully understand how devastating the fire was to Venice and her citizens:

    • read this account by a local, accompanied by frightening photos of the fire and aftermath.  
    • The town-hall of Venice has lots about the so just Google Il Comune di Venezia
    • and visit this link to the Classical Music Website Gramophone to read about the reopening.  
    • To read about financial scandals during the rebuilding, click here.


    The Antico Martini Restaurant in Venice one of the many famous restaurants that serve food in glorious surroundings, but for a deep wallet.  This one has been around since 1720.  It is right next to the entrance to the Teatro Fenice.  They have a website with photos, history, menus, recipes and famous person's guestbook.

    The Antico Martini Restaurant today and in the 1700's

    Next to the theatre, to one side of the Antico Martino Restaurant, there is this lovely courtyard before a palace divided into several apartments.  On the ground floor is a wine-bar.





    The typically Venetian boat, the gondola, made of lacquered wood, has varied little over the centuries.  They are used everyday in Venice to transport not just tourists.

    There are gondola traghetti, boats that cross over the Grand Canal at various points, that cost you a Euro or so.  They are indicated on good maps of Venice and by signs and street names, such as Calle del tragehetto.



    For a very, very long time, an earlier wooden version of the Rialto Bridge was the only bridge across the Grand Canal.  So the gondola traghetto would carry people with their shopping, briefcases, school bags... from one side to the other, all day long.



    Here is a gondolier using an age-old technique to cast off from a wall so as to make the tight turn up ahead.



    Venice is famous for it's celebration of Carnevale, and for the carnival masks, many of which are made in China these days.


    I've a page dedicated to Venice's Carnival, with lots of beautiful images, the characters you might see roaming the streets, and some background. 


    Carnevale began as one of those wild festivals that give periodic relief to citizens of repressive societies.  Masked Venetians could make fools of themselves and their partners without paying the consequences only that night of the year.  

    The wild nature of the celebrations wore out even the ever-ready-for-an-adventure English poet Byron.  He left Venice after a wild Carnevale, too exhausted to remain.

    Venetian artists celebrate the Commedia dell'arte characters (masks) to this day, mainly because they are popular costumes for Carnival.

    Two shop windows photographed in Venice in 2011


    Carnival died out eventually, but was revived in the 1980s.  Here is an official site with information on the upcoming Carnival celebrations.





    If you like living history, click on either image above to read my page with excepts from a book written in 1866 about life in Venice, by the U. S. Consul, William Dean Howells.


    Virtual Tours and Real Tours

    If you've never been to Venice, take this virtual photo tour to get an idea of what you're missing.  It is an uniquely beautiful town that words alone cannot describe.  If you want to see Venice right now, this moment, visit this WebCam.



    If you've been to Venice, and were upset that you couldn't see everything you wanted to see, a common occurrence, try these sites.



    If you wish to have others plan your daily tours of Venice, you might try this group.'s themed guided walking tours.  Their site describes in great detail the tours, thus describing much of Venice's history.  Click on the image above to go directly to their list of walking tours. 

    If you want to plan your own tours, here are some site tips.  But I recommend you purchase some good books that break the city down by area, pointing out the sights along the way.  It is nicest to just pick an area and ramble along the alleyways, stopping now and then to take in some special attraction.

    There is a lot of information available from other tourists to Venice on travel sites, in many languages.  They are a priceless source of information, so use them before you go to Venice.  Do not expect to get great information in Venice.  Do your research.  Many things in the city are set up to make you pay for things you don't need.  In the case of Venice, traveler beware!

    For example, the cheap RyanAir flights into Treviso airport require a bus trip to Venice after your flight.  RyanAir sells bus tickets on the flight.  But their bus takes nearly 2 hours to reach Venice.  The private company, Barzi, offers a bus service at the same price, that takes 40 minutes.

    And the Barzi bus stops at the Tronchetto Island parking garage.  The city has put up a huge sign outside the garage that says the way to Venice from Tranchetto is via the people mover, a tram that goes to Piazzale Rome, from where you have to fight the crowds to get a boat-bus, vaporetto, to get around Venice. 

    But if you walk 100 meters down the Tronchetto quay, from the Barzi bus stop, you can board a Venice boat-bus, a vaporetto, that can take you directly into Venice, to your hotel, or apartment, or to St. Mark's Square.  The city has even locked the gate to the nearer vaporetto stop that is next to the people mover, the Tronchetto Mercato, so you feel you have to take the silly tram.  The boat-bus stop, Tronchetto, is not visible from the bus stop.  You have to know it is 100 meters down the quay.



    The Ville Venete & Castelli site has information on all the Villas and gardens in the Venice area.

    The Jewish Ghetto is a major attraction.  I recommend before you visit the real thing, to visit this Virtual History Tour of the Ghetto, the world's oldest.  And here is the link to the Ghetto Museum.



    Fodor's has put their guide to Venice on-line, covering accommodation, restaurants, cafes and bars, and shops and services.   

    Whether you are going to Venice for Carnevale, or at another time of year, this Things To Do In Venice site offers a great City Guide to get your plans started.  




    Photochrome Images of Venice Circa 1890

    These extraordinary images come from the Old Picture site.  It is a wonderful place to browse the past.  If you are an educator, it is a fantastic resource for lessons, bringing the past to life in a way mere words or paintings cannot.  This is the link to their Italy category, and this link is to their home page.


    Venice Courtyard

    The aquifer wells, visible in almost all squares (campi) were sealed after a water pipe was installed to bring water from the mainland into Venice.  It was discovered that the pumping up of water from the aquifers was causing Venice to sink. 

    The chimney on the left, against which the woman is leaning, is a typical Venetian construction.  The chimney for a fireplace was attached to the outside of the building, not built into the structure. 

    The old wooden shutters are still seen around Venice, today, as are the wash drying lines, and window grates.



    Venice Shop and Street Scene

    The buttressed balconies and second floors can be seen everywhere around Venice. 

    And in some places, you can see the medieval structure, in which the buttressing extends to create a covered walkway.  But most houses have built in that area to increase the size of the ground floor, as in the image. 

    Small shop fronts in Venice can hide deep and large shop interiors that extend across several buildings. 

    Fresh garden produce is still grown on the islands in the Venice lagoon, and it is brought to shops, markets and even sold off the side of boats in Venice, today, just as it has always been done.



    Street Scene looking toward the Rialto Bridge which rises in the distance, covered with people

    This scene, looking toward the Rialto Bridge (you can see the crowd rising in the distance as they cross the shop-covered bridge), is very similar to how it looks today. 

    Shops line this street, that leads to the Rialto Market where you can purchase fresh produce and fish.


    Venice Bridge of Boats over the Grand Canal

    This is an image of one of the temporary bridges that are constructed throughout the year for religious festivals, to provide easy access to important churches for pilgrims.  Boats line up and a wooden bridge is constructed over them.  This bridge looks like one made for the November festival that links the two sides of the Grand Canal at the beautiful Church of La Salute.


    Riva degli Schiavoni

    The quay looks up toward the Doges' Palace on the right (light pink) and the Church of La Salute on opposite side of the basin, to the left.  The Grand Canal begins between the two famous landmarks.

    The two large groups of sailors are especially interesting in the photograph.  As is the statue, that looks like the one of Garibaldi that is now on Via Garibaldi, not far from here.

    I'm not sure why the man has the basket on his head (foreground - right).  Maybe that is the best way to carry it?


    Old Bell Tower in St. Mark's Square

    A decade or so after this photo was taken, the massive bell tower collapsed.  It was rebuilt.



    There are many more images of Venice, her sights, canals, palaces and churches at the Old Picture site.  This is the link to their Italy category.


    Cesare Colonnese


    If you would like to learn to cook like a Venetian, and to speak like one too, you can watch the entertaining and educational cooking videos made by Cesare Colonnese in Venice.


    This one shows you how to cook the classic Venetian sardine dish "Sardee in saor".





    Aqua Alta


    The water level in Venice in December of 2010 was extremely high.  Here is a video made that shows you what life is like during the flooding season.





    Books About Venice


    If you'd like to read more about Venice before your trip, or checkout the printed guidebooks, you can use this Search tool to see what's available from, what people say about the books, and what they cost.  

    Just enter 'Books' in the 'Search' field, and 'Venice Italy' (for example, or you could put 'Guggenheim' or 'Venice Italy camping'...).  Then click on the 'Go' button to see the resulting list.



    Amazon Logo


    Venice Guides






    Some Music




    A Venice Game



    My other pages on Venice:


    Venice 1860

    Photo Tours

    Old Venice

    Venice ArtVisit my Murano Glass page for inspiring images.

    Visit my Coloring Pages for images of Venice for children to color