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Friday, 02 September 2016 09:18

Regata Storica 2016

Regata Storica 2016

Sunday 4th September 2016 at 4 PM

On Sunday September 4th we are running only the FREE WALK IN VENICE -original free tour- at 10 AM. Why?

---> Because of the Regata Storica! I is the main event in the annual "Voga alla Veneta" rowing calendar. This unique sport has been practised in the Venetian lagoon for thousands of years and today it is particularly well-known for the spectacular historical water pageant that precedes the race. Scores of typically 16th century-style boats with gondoliers in period costume carry the Doge, the Doge's wife and all the highest ranking Venetian officials up the Grand Canal in a brightly coloured parade. An unforgettable sight and a true reconstruction of the glorious past of one of most the powerful and influential Maritime Republics in the Mediterranean.

Today there are four races divided in terms of age and type of craft. The best known and most exciting of these is the "Campioni su Gondolini" race, where a series of small, sporting gondolas fly down the Grand Canal to the finishing line at the famous "machina", the spectacular floating stage located in front of the Ca' Foscari palace.

For more info: Regata storica Venezia website

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Thursday, 18 August 2016 08:36

Water and wells in Venice!

The Venetian diarist, Marin Sanudo (1466-1536), summed up one of the paradoxes of Venice when he wrote: "Venexia è in aqua et non ha aqua" (Venice is in water and it doesn't have water). 

Fondaco dei Turchi (Natural History Museum), 11th century. One of the oldest surviving well-heads in Venice.
Natural History Museum
Given the location of the city, the sinking of wells was out of the question.
Well-head (vera da pozzo), Ca' d'Oro, Venice
Ca' d' Oro
And so the Venetians had to solve the problem of providing fresh water for its large population (in the 14th century Venice was the fourth largest city in Europe) by collecting rainwater. 
Early 15th century well-head (vera da pozzo), Corte Gregolina, Venice. A rare example of a basket-weave design.
Corte Gregolina
The city's numerous campi and cortili were turned into extremely efficient water-storage facilities. The ground surrounding the well-head (vera da pozzo) sloped away so that the rainwater would flow though small stone drains (gatoli or pivelle) into large underground cisterns (up to 5 metres deep). There the water was sifted through sand to remove any impurities.
16th century bronze well-head (vera da pozzo), Palazzo Ducale, Venice
Palazzo Ducale
The well-heads in the campi were locked and the keys held by the local parish priests; it was the priest who decided when the well should be opened. This all changed in the 1880s with the advent of piped water from the mainland. The wells soon became surplus to requirement and thousands of well-heads disappeared. 
Vera da Pozzo, Corte S. Andrea, Venice
Corte S. Andrea
Many were sold off to foreigners, some were broken up, and some found other uses, often as rather elaborate plant pots. 
Well-head (vera da pozzo) Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice
Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Taking many forms (round, square, hexagonal, octagonal, cylindrical), most well-heads, which date from the 9th to the 19th century, were carved out of Istrian stone, a few out of Verona marble and at least two were cast in bronze. Some are elaborately carved, others less so.  
Well-head (vera da pozzo), Campo de l'Abbazia, Venice
Campo de l'Abbazia
According to a census of 1858, there were 6046 private wells, 180 public wells and 556 disused wells in the city. Assuming that each well had a well-head, that cones to a grand total of 6,782. I wonder how many there are today. Alberto Rizzi in his fascinating and fact-filled volume, The Well-Heads of Venice, comes up with a figure of 2,500. 
Well-head (vera da pozzo), Hotel Stern, Venice
Hotel Stern
What do you think about this well-head  in the garden of the Hotel Stern? It is over a thousand years old.
Do you want to know more about our water system? Join our free tour FREE WALK IN VENICE by Isola Tour!
Published in MY BLOG
Wednesday, 13 July 2016 11:04

Do you know... that Venice is a fish?

Do you know that Venice is not just one big island?

During our free tours in Venice, FREE WALK IN VENICE, we use to speak about the strange shape of our Venice!

it is thanks to Tiziano Scarpa that we use to say that Venice has the shape of a fish! When you are landing in the Marco Polo Airport you can see how many islands there are here!

But how many islands are them? In Venice there are about 116, 118 or 124 islands (there are different opinions about that!) linked by more than 400 bridges !

The first settlement was on the highest ground of Venice, called Rialto. There is a day that we consider as the Birthday of Venice that is the 25th March 421. In this day the church of San Giacometo was consecrated on the banks of the Grand Canal. But the latest studies on the origins of Venice tell us something different. Was the church built later?

For sure today we know that Venice had its origins during the barbaric invasions. In the 5th century the Huns and the Longobards invaded the territory of Altino and surroundings, in the mainland. So the inhabitants escaped from their houses to take refuge in the islands of the near lagoon. Here we had just empty islands, none lived there, all was new for everyone. Torcello was one of the first islands to host someone. If you visit it today you can see that the inhabitants are really a few, but in the past thousands of people lived there.

Now the buildings are a few as its inhabitants, but you have to try to think about the Venice of the past! Here you can visit the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta with the beautiful Last Judgment mosaic, the church of Santa Fosca and the museum. You can’t’ say to have been in Torcello without trying to sit on the “Attila’s throne” and crossing the “Devil’s Bridge”. Do you know what are they?


Discover more attending our free walking tour FREE WALK IN VENICE !


venice is a fish www.freewalkinvenice.orglibro venezia è un pesce

Published in MY BLOG
Monday, 11 July 2016 13:38

The history of the Venetian CAMPO


If you attended one of our free tours in Venice you know that we speak a lot about the history of our CAMPI.

But do you remember what is a "campo"?  Here a reminder of our Free Walk in Venice team !

Venice was founded in the fifth century by people from the mainland who fled the Hun invasion from the north to take refuge in the lagoon’s marshy islands. The center of the original community, “Venetia” , moved from island to island , but by the ninth century was firmly established in its present location.

Originally, each island was semi-autonomous. Houses were built around the edge so that each house had direct access to the water for commerce and trasportation. The open space in the center, the campo, was used for community needs such as the graveyard, for grazing cattle, for the water cistern and well, and for the public events such as markets and festivals. Shops and businesses opened onto the campo.  All movement from island to island was conducted by boat; bridges linking the island communities were built centuries later. The city’s island structure created a strong sense of neighborhood identity and rivalry.

Originally, as their name implies, the campi were unpaved fields. In the eighteenth century , to protect ladies’ ankle-length gowns and elegant shoes, especially during the evening passeggiata , wide stone paths called listone were constructed across some campi. Tassini describes the passeggiata that took place on winter evenings along the paved listone on Campo Santo Stefano. Today, Campo San Pietro in Castello district is the only campo that is still grass crossed with stone paths.

Nowadays in the Campo, those living in the neighborhood shop, go for coffee and newspapers, while Venetians living elsewhere pass through on their way to work. In this setting, persons encounter each other many times a day and brief conversations ensue. Here, even casual acquaintances become familiar figures. Public life is visible and audible to all. No part of the campo is fenced off or inaccessible, and of course, there are no cars to impede social interaction!

If you haven't attended our free tours yet, what are you waiting for ? 

Book you free tour in Venice completing the form on and choose one of our 4 different tours in Venice !

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Here in Venice during our free tours, FREE WALK IN VENICE,  we use to speak about the venetian animals ;)

Nevertheless today Venice is known as the city of dogs, here cats have always played a key role, since they were very helpful to keep mice away (!!!) from the holds of ships, but they were also very popular as a pet.

Among the famous Venetian cats we must surely remember in particular the one that belonged to the 17th century Doge Francesco Morosini (former a great Admiral of the Venetian fleet ).

The great leader, who for his great deeds in Greece was nicknamed ‘the Peloponnesian’, had a very special character: he never married (he was indeed suffering from an almost pathological misogyny) and left his entire fortune to the descendants of his brothers, as long as they forever called their sons Francesco; his only great love was a cat, which he never parted from and with which he had a portrait of himself made. When the kitten died, Morosini had her embalmed with a mouse between its legs.

Where you can see the cat of the Doge Francesco Morosini?

The casket with the precious animal passed through the descendants of Morosini until 1800, when all the collections of the great admiral were donated to the city. At the moment, it can be seen in the halls of the Natural History Museum.

Join our FREE WALK IN VENICE, the free tour in Venice, and we’ll explain you how visiting this amazing museum!

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