Venice – the beauty of everyday life

Venice is different from the rest of the world in every shape and form. After all it’s a city built on an archipelago consisting of hundred and seventeen islands connected by four hundred and nine bridges. Together they form the sinking gem that attracts around three million tourists every year.

The Vaporetto certainly adds magic to the rush hour!

Basta with the numbers. Because Venice certainly isn’t about maths. She’s about art and passion, and of course about the everyday lives of the roughly three hundred thousand inhabitants. ( Ooops, did it again). In my eyes, everyday life in Venice is as beautiful as it possibly gets!

People have adopted a way of coping with the ever present water ways which means that they all own a pair of hard core, waist high wellington boots. They all know what it means when the tidal alarm sounds, and the ultimate act of chivalry for a Venetian man is to carry his girl friend on his back to ensure that she gets back home with dry feet…. Mamma mia, how sweet!

Like it or not, Venice is watery


Below is a photo documentary of how the Venetians go about their daily lives.

The Rialto bridge is beautiful, but for some it's just another cold and hostile place to beg for coins.

Every winter the sinking city is inundated. People are more than accustomed to walking 'the planks'.

Venice is a place with very few open spaces, so the public squares are popular amongst families who want to kick a ball and ride a bike.

The canals may be stunningly beautiful, but they are also home to many rats. So the Venetians hang their rubbish out of their windows for the rubbish collector.


Fancy another dose of Venice? Did you know that the only square that can be called a Piazza is the famous Piazza San Marco? The rest are called campi, and we’ve discovered the best here:


This post is part of the Lonely Planet bloggers carnival which focuses on unique customs around the world. Go ahead and learn something new! It is hosted at


Knee deep in Venice

I believe travelers can be separated into two groups:

The ones that find Venice a bit O.T.T – a place with too many tourists, too many tourist traps and too many smelly canals. Then there are the ones who see beyond all that, and have fallen hopelessly in love with the most beautiful city in the world.

A skew palace sits nicely on the Canal Grande

I belong to the latter, and suffer from chronic withdrawal symptoms. Even before I have arrived, I am wishing I could stay for longer. In a perfect world I would rent a little Venetian loft where I would write for three months. (I’ve been drooling over some of the gorgeous apartments at

The city itself is so pretty I am sure I would need neither food nor company to stimulate the creative flow… at least not in my perfect, imaginary world… (however, the occasional spritz – a typical Venetian aperitivo – would go down a treat!)

But I’m hardly alone in thinking that Venice is a place of spectacular beauty. There is no need for yet another blog post celebrating the crumbling brick walls, the emerald green canals and the cute little bridges made for romance.

Acqua Alta…

My reason for writing about Venice this time around is to convince y’all that the best time to visit is well out of the summer season, or any high season for that matter. My favourite time of year is no doubt between November and January. This is when the rain is prone to add further moisture to a place saturated with dampness. It’s when the canals are sure to spill over their edges as if to shout it out LOUD and CLEAR that this city is indeed sinking. But most of all, you get to distinguish the Venetians from the hordes of tourists. The Ventians are always the ones with the correct footwear.

Venice, just the way I like it!

Last time I went to Venice it was mid November, and the weather Gods were determined to have us all soaked in water. From above we had nothing but rain. From below we were splish sploshing in the salty, rising lagoon. I went to have supper at a favourite of mine, the totally down to earth “Il Cantinone Stoico” (adress: Fondamente Bragadin ved Rio San Vio).

Gondoliera queen - Alexandra Hai

I was there with Alexandra Hai, Venice’s first female gondoliera. We were sharing a bottle of Veneto white wine and were half way through our starters (a delicious mountain of small shrimps) when all of a sudden a sharp alarm started sounding. It silenced us all. Dinner guests put their cutlery down. Alexandra stopped conversing and was obviously waiting for another hoot. You see, this is what Venice is about in the winter months -how many times will the tidal alarm sound?

The alarm system is created in such a way that it will echo through Venice’s every nook and cranny, and here’s how to decipher it:

1.10m: a long ring on one continuous note (St. Mark’s square gets flooded at 110 cm)
1.20m: two rings on an ascending note
1.30m: three rings on an ascending note
1.40m: four rings on an ascending note

On this particular evening there were three hoots, and some of our fellow dinner guests immediately asked for the bill and hurried home. Others picked up their mobile phones and started phoning around to ensure their houses were barricaded. The restaurant owner came straight over to our table. No one knows the tide and its lunatic ways better than the gondoliers. He was after Alexandra’s verdict on when he could expect the water to come seeping over his doorstep.

I would close up by ten thirty, she told him in her calm and collected manner.

We continued our supper, and after that we braved our way across the Piazza San Marco. It was like an infinity pool where the Adriatic sea washed in over the piazzetta. It felt like a movie. Knee deep in one of Europe’s most beautiful spots, and accompanied by one of the bravest women I know. Only a few tourists were scattered around the square, most of them with soaked feet and camera in hand trying to capture the uniqueness of Venice in November.

this man was not planning on moving, he had quite literally grabbed a front row seat to the flooding.

If you like the thought of the Venice floods, check out Duncan Zuur’s wakeboarding across the square from December 2008. The Dutch man managed to carry out his stunt without the ‘guardia’ (Italian police) noticing!