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Venetian Life

Venice has long been associated with the imposing Saint Mark’s Square and the bustling Rialto Bridge. Studying and living in Venice provides the opportunity to see another side of Venice. Venice is very much a living city, which  flourishes in its unusual environment. Canals remain vital to the Venetian life, not just acting as a tourist attraction. Food delivery, refuse collection, taxis, police, ambulances, hearses and buses all get about on the canals.

The Canale di Cannaregio is one of the main canals of Venice, along which delivery boats make their way into the city.

Food shopping at the Rialto market, picking up fresh vegetables and an amazing array of fish is good fun. However, after lectures and a stint in a library, you will inevitably run out of time to hit a market everyday. Billa and the COOP are the two most common supermarkets in Venice and can be found all over the city. Not known for its supermarkets, they are often small and hidden away. It is worth working out where your nearest one is for a bit of convenience. Be warned, the cashiers can get upset if you don’t have exact change!

“Gondole! Gondole!” Is a call that often confronts tourists as they make their way around Venice. In reality, the boats that you will come across most in Venice are locals’ smaller boats and delivery boats, as well as vaporetti, transporting Venetians and tourists a like. 

Boats collecting rubbish do their job, rain or shine, high tide or low tide. Below is the rubbish collection boat going about its regular business during a particularly high tide. Bin collectors wear special aqua alta wellies.

Local Venetians sell wellies to unsuspecting tourists and commuters during an unusually high aqua alta, along the Strada Nova.
Little dogs are an intrinsic part of the Venetian way of life. With only a small number of parks and open space at a high premium, the picollo pooch is certainly the favourite amongst Venetians. During my studies, I did notice a Great Dane with his owner, every now and then. So I guess there are anomalies to this rule.
In true student style we hung our washing up inside the apartment. If you’re lucky though, you will have somewhere outside to hang your washing in true Venetian style.
Venice is most fun when you escape the main tourists trails. Step down a couple of little side streets and often you are by yourself. Venice is really quite a quiet city and it really is an amazing place to explore!

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Acqua Alta!

Acqua Alta has sadly become an increasing feature of Venetian life, giving Venice its reputation for being a sinking city. Literally meaning ‘high water’ it is caused by high tides and can effect life in Venice severely. Here are a few tips for when you hear the Acqua Alta sirens.

  1. Wellies: Cheap and easily bought, these are an integral purchase in Venice. Be aware that the water can rise quite quickly, so even if the tide does not look high when you leave your apartment, by the time you leave a lecture or seminar it could be too high to go out in. You generally won’t need the special Acqua Alta wellies that have plastic covers up to the thigh, as it is easy to avoid particularly badly effected areas of the city.
  2. Sirens: Sirens sound roughly four hours before the floods are at their highest. They also indicate roughly how high the water will be. A single tone siren indicates only slight flooding, with higher water more notes are sounded. The Venetians are very good at predicting Acque Alte, so you usually have plenty of warning.
  3. Raised Walkways: Badly effected areas often have raised walkways set out so you don’t have to wade through water. They cover the most busy walkways and are easy to stick to. However, when walking to lectures and seminars there are areas covered in water, without a raised platforms to walk on.
  4. Saint Mark’s Square: As one of the worst hit places by high water is Saint Mark’s Square, it is definitely worth making a trip to the square during Acqua Alta. It is a rather striking and shocking image to see such a beautiful place submerged by floods.
  5. Venice in Peril: The Fund was created after the great floods of 1966 in Florence and Venice and raises money and awareness about Venice’s difficulty in maintaining the city’s well-being.

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Filed under Venice Weather