If you’re planning a city break in Venice, it might be time to add a new case to the Christmas list!
I’m always on the lookout for a quirky angle when it comes to blogging about one of our many city break destinations and today’s standout story of interest comes in the form of Venice and a new law announced yesterday restricting the use of suitcases with rubber wheels. Yes really! With effect from May 2015, tourists risk receiving a 500€ fine for using suitcases with trundling tyres which, according to local residents, are causing noise pollution as visitors to Venice make their way over bridges and across the paved squares lugging their luggage behind them. Interestingly, bags with silent inflated tyres – if such things exist – will be permitted in the city centre, and local residents will also be exempt from the potential fine.
This is not the first attempt in the city’s effort to limit the impact of the high level of tourism on Venice. Indeed over the summer local authorities removed some 20,000 padlocks attached to the Rialto and Accademia Bridges, put there as declarations of love by those enjoying a romantic break to the city. And last year, in an attempt to combat the congested waterways flowing through the city, gondoliers were subject to drug and alcohol testing, with GPS systems and boat number plates enforced on all water vessels.
And yet, with an estimated 27 million visitors to la Serenissima each year, Venice remains one of our most popular short break destinations who flock there to soak up the romance, sophistication and unique vistas on offer in plentiful supply. I’ve waxed lyrical about Venice and its many top attractions in previous blogs so, given the more unusual subject matter of this Venetian offering, I thought I’d mention a trio of the lesser-known, yet historically important landmarks in this most magical of cities.
Teatro La Fenice
Those in the operatic know will have undoubtedly heard of the Teatro La Fenice, lauded as one of Europe’s best-known opera houses. Translated as Theatre of the Phoenix, so-named as its predecessor was razed to the ground by fire, the opera house dates back to the late 18th century and has played host to the premiere of many a famous operatic production in its time including Verdi’s La Traviata and Rigoletto. Although destroyed twice more by fire in 1836 and more recently in 1996, La Fenice ranks high amongst Europe’s operatic glitterati.
Venice’s Arsenale dates back to the early 12th century and at its peak housed some 300 shipping companies and employed 16,000 people. Whilst today it is largely utilised by the Italian Army and thus not generally open to the public, the Arsenale does in part open its gates during the city’s art and architecture Biennales, playing host to a number of events and exhibitions. It’s certainly worth a look if you’re in town at that time, not least for the venue’s enormous historic and maritime importance to the city. The art biennale runs from 9th May to 22nd November, 2015 whilst the architecture biennale closes its doors this very weekend. Check out the website here for more details.
Squero di San Trovaso
Set beside the Church of San Trovaso close to the Accademia Bridge, the Squero di San Trovaso represents one of the few remaining sites in which gondolas are built and repaired. Established in the 17th century, whilst the boatyard is not actually open to the public, those keen to see the craftsmen at work should head to the opposite bank of the Rio San Trovaso for a first-hand look.