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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Before there was a “Venice,” there was Torcello.

Six miles from Venice across a vast stretch of water, lies a mysterious island with only 30 inhabitants : the island of Torcello. Torcello was the first island to be settled in the lagoon, long before the present day Venice. The people of the lagoon were originally from the Roman city of Altino which came under threat in the 5th century from barbarian invasion. To flee the Barbarian they settled in this Island that they called Torcello. Until the 10th century Torcello was the greatest commercial centre in the lagoon, full of palaces, churches and even a grand canal. In its prime the population of Torcello was about 20,000 but it fell into decline after it was struck with a series of natural disasters. From the 12th century Torcello rapidly deteriorated as malaria spread causing the population to turn to the more accessible area around the Rialto - the heart of the spectacular new Venice that was emerging. Today Torcello is largely deserted. Apart from a few farmers with small holdings most of the people who work here are involved with the tourists who come to see the few places of interest remaining on the island. Venice scavenged the ruins for building materials, so most of its buildings and palaces have now utterly vanished . But worth the visit are still  two churches: Santa Maria Assunta, the cathedral of Torcello and the little church of Santa Fosca, a simple but charming Romanesque construction often used for romantic weddings. The is also a small archeological museum and the island is also home to a world-famous restaurant, famous because Hemingway loved it, called Locanda Cipriani.  There are also some Medieval ruins  and  two palaces, Palazzo Dell’Archivio and Palazzo Del Consiglio, a campanile (bell tower) that  you can climb for some really nice views  and a very popular attractions is the Atilla’s Throne,  a big stone throne that was probably the seat of Bishop of the Island.  And of course Il Ponte Del Diavolo, the Devil Bridge, one of the only two bridges of Venice without “spallete”, railings.  
It is a small island with a mysterious and bewitching atmosphere that you will not easy forget and worth a visit. 
From Venice With Love,
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

I Pozzi "The Wells" of Venice

Venice was surrounded by salt water but did not had drinking water, so they built wells to collect rainwater.
The wellhead, "vera da pozzo", is the only exposed part of the well system in Venice and it is a typical Venetian word that represent the visible stone that covers the well itsel. The wellhead served as a cap on the well to prevent debris from falling into the well and contaminating the fresh water supply. Some of these " vere" show effigy of the family that built them. The largest one is located in campo San Polo and measures 320 cm in diameter (10 ft.). They were a centerpiece of many public squares in Venice and were always at the center of socialization and interactivity among Venetians. Churches were once responsible for locking and unlocking the well at certain times of the day to prevent just anyone from retrieving water from the well at any given time.
in 1858 the Municipal Technical Office of Venice estimated the presence in the city of nearly 7,000 wells.
But after after the aqueduct construction in 1884 many wells were destroyed.
Today Venice has about 600 wells, of which none is in use. Some of them are true magical treasures in some beautiful quiet campielli (little squares) all around Venice. A lot of them are private but you still can see them from the closed gates.
From Venice With Love,
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Feeding pigeons in Venice

Feeding pigeons is not allowed in my hometown Venice. Yes it is against the law. The law went into effect April 30 2008. 
Fines for ignoring the ban start at 50 euros ($56). The battle against the birds is part of a broader campaign to improve decorum and cleanliness in the Unesco World Heritage Site of my home town which welcomes more than 1 million tourists a month. One study estimated that cleaning up monuments and repairing the damage caused by pigeons cost each Venetian taxpayer 275 euros ($310) a year.
From Venice With Love,
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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is Tiramisu' Venetian?

It's one of the most popular desserts served in many Italian restaurants and easy to make also at home, as it does not require baking. It means "pick–me–up" ( or "cheer me up" more freely translated). It is made of lady’s fingers (Italian: Savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa.
There are a few different versions about its origins and often disputed among Italian regions such as Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Tuscany:
- Some people say the history of "tiramis├╣" dates back to the Renaissance, when Venetian women gave the desserts to their men because they believed it improved love-making.
- others believe that Venetian courtesans used "tiramis├╣" to pick–themselves–up during the night .
-Other sources report the creation of the cake as originating towards the end of the 17th century in Siena, Tuscany in honor of the Grand Duke Cosimo III.
- Other believed that the cake originated in 1960s in the region of Veneto, Italy, at the restaurant "Le Beccherie" in Treviso, Italy. Specifically, the dish is claimed to have first been created by a confectioner named Roberto Linguanotto, owner of "Le Beccherie" and his apprentice, Francesca Valori, whose maiden name was Tiramisu.
- Another story is that a man while visiting a Bordello, a brothel, in Treviso asked the madam for something that would pick him up The madam made a a mixture of mascarpone, sugar, eggs, espresso, and amaretti biscotti. This picked the man up, and made him a satisfied customer of the bordello Later the amaretti were replaced with the more readily available savoiardi biscotti we see today.
So I guess we don't really know who made it first, why and when. For sure it is a feast for the mouth and a boost of energy. Who ever invented it, I will say : THANK YOU.
From Venice With Love,
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Why is a Lion the symbol of the Serenissima Republic of Venice?

My hometown Venice is filled with symbols and sings full of meanings, beautiful, interesting and colorful stories. A symbol you simply can’t get away from in Venice is the winged lion. On statues, palaces, the city’s flags, paintings, sculptures that lion is just everywhere. It is you can say the LOGO of Venice.
Did you ever wonder why?
The reason goes back to the ninth century, when Venetian merchants stole the body of St. Mark the apostle from his tomb in Alexandria in Egypt. When a storm almost drowned the merchants boats and their precious cargo, it’s said that St. Mark himself appeared to the captain and told him to lower the sails. The ship was saved, and the merchants said they owed their safety to the miracle.
Once they got to Venice and told the story to the Doge, the city voted him their patron saint. There is also another tradition telling that St. Mark had himself once stopped on the Venetian coast to avoid a storm and that an angel appeared to him, saying the locals would one day venerate him.
And what’s usually used to represent St. Mark in Christian iconography?
Yes, a winged lion.
From Venice With Love,
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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cardinal points of Venice

There are five cardinal points in my hometown Venice: Ferrovia, Piazzale Roma, Piazza San Marco, Rialto and Accademia. Knowing where they are on the map will help you navigate the city. If you get lost, prominent yellow signs throughout the city will direct you to those locations. Follow them only, really ONLY if you absolutely need to. Half the fun in Venice is to get lost in its labyrinthine self and discover a new hidden treasure around the corner.
From Venice With Love,
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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Venice and water allergy fun fact

Venice was founded to escape the assaults of Attila and the Huns , which the story tells were “allergic" to water “.
From Venice With Love,
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Legends of my hometown Venice: el Sior Rioba

This legend of Venice is set in the district of Canareggio, particularly in Campo dei Mori, where you’ll find the Mastelli Palace of the Camel. Along the walls of this building you will find 4 stone statues embedded in the wall.
Legend tells of three brothers who fled from Greece (called in those at times Morea, inhabited precisely by the Moors, so called because of their dark skin) Rioba, Sandi and Afani and their servant.
Once in Venice, the three brothers with their servant, called themselves “ Mastelli” which later became the name of the palace. They were skilled cloth merchants, but also rascals and swindlers deceiving and stealing money from those who turned to them for business.
Tired of their behavior, St. Mary Magdalene decided to punish them. One day went by the three brothers, in disguise, to buy from them some fabrics.
The three villains were eager to deceive such a naive lady. So they were raving about the cotton fabric as the best quality fabric and sumptuous Venetian so to justify the exorbitant price they we asking.
It is said that the “Sior Rioba”, one of three brothers,addressing the Lady said “This is the best yarn of Venice and May the Lord transform us into stone if we do not tell the truth!”. After these words the woman, paid the exorbitant sum requested and before leaving she said, “I thank you so much gentlemen! May the Lord have towards you the same care and attention that you had for me.”
Suddenly that the three merchants with their servant were turned into stone.
Of the three statues the most famous is that of Rioba, just called in Venetian dialect “Sior Rioba”. It is also said that during particularly cold nights the spirit of the Sior Rioba trapped in the statue cry and the beating of his heart can be felt by those pure in spirit if they put a hand in his chest.
In 1800 the statue of “Sior Rioba” lost his nose that was replaced with an iron nose and since then it is said that to touch his nose brings good luck.
And next door you will find the house where famous painter Tintoretto lived. Every corner in Venice has a story.
To read more visit
From Venice With Love,
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The bell towers of Venice

Venice has over 200 churches.
This is an amazing fact considering the compact size of Venice. There were also the same number of bell towers.
Unfortunately, some of them were demolished because they were considered useless or unsafe. So we can remember those that are no longer there just in the paintings or drawings made centuries ago. However, there are still 140 bell towers and there are still more than 80 only in the historical center of the city. In addition to mark the hours and to call the faithful to religious functions, Venetian bell towers were also used as lighthouse for ships. The bell tower of St. Mark, for example, was covered with reflective sheets. The towers were also used as to control fire from the top of the belfry where the “guardie del fogo”, the firefighters were positioned.
Nowadays, you can still climb to the top of some bell towers and their only use is to see the breathtaking panorama with your love ones.
From Venice With Love,
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Bridges of Venice : did you know?

My hometown Venice has still visible 417 bridges, of which 72 are private. Among them 300 bridges are made by stone, 60 made by iron, the other 57 made by wood. There are only two bridges without railings (spallette). The first one is located in Torcello and is called Ponte del Diavolo (the Devil’s Bridge), and the second one is private and is located in Rio di San Felice in Cannaregio and it's called Ponte Chiodo. All the ancient bridges in Venice were originally builded without railings.
From Venice With Love,
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