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Sorry no cars here, you’re going to have to walk

There many things that can ‘shock’ you about a place, from the food and how people dress to the lifestyle. Venice is no exception. When I imagine going to visit or live in a place I always find myself thinking about how it will be different to Melbourne and how that will impact the way i travel.

For Venice, the engineering of the city itself is quite a ‘shock’ as the city sits atop water, connected via pedestrian bridges crossing over the canals. It is so tightly knit that you can walk to anywhere you need to be, whereas in Melbourne I am so reliant upon my car. I drive almost every day, so the idea of a city without a selection of modern transportation can seem almost ‘backwards’ in today’s society. But I always feel like I miss so much of Melbourne when I’m sitting in traffic, only worried about getting from point A to B. The simple ability to walk everywhere in Venice means you can wander the alleyways and discover new places along the way.

Whether it is a new gallery or restaurant you discover, you may be surprised by the bill after you finish your meal, as you will be charged an extra fee if you want to sit down at a table in a café. This would come as a shock to me! I enjoy meeting up with friends over a coffee so I’m not sure if it would have the same intimate feeling if we were to standing up among a bar crowed with people also trying to spare a few dollars (or Euros). But on the contrary it may present a way to adapt to this lifestyle and take in the beauty outside, to discover new public squares or a place along the canals. This culture shock presents an opportunity for new experiences and to expand the idea of what we perceive as ‘normal’.





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No Fish on Mondays

Photo: Venetian Fisherman

Only by coincidence did I end up with the country specialisation of Venice, where I will actually be travelling to later in the year. As I pour my spare time into planning my trip to Europe, in particular my time in Venice, I am slowly discovering the less explored parts of the city.

From the countless movies that have been set in there, with the romantic gondola rides down the canals and eating pizza or pasta in a restaurant in Saint Marco Square, I have illustrated quiet a picture-perfect image of the city in my head. Imagining it to be ‘the picturesque city built on water’ just like they advertise it to you in the tourist brochures.I even fell into this trap of place essentialism in my previous post, illustrating the art, the alleyways, and the canals – all the primped and ‘perfect’ aspects of Venice. I’m sure many other people go to Venice with this preconception as well, and some may not even find the true elements of the city if they don’t know where to look.

Delving deeper into the ingredients that make up this city, I have been asking many questions – what do the locals do day to day? what are their traditional dishes? A particular interest of mine is the cuisine; I am a massive foodie, so I wanted to know what was local to Venice not just the typical Italian pizza and pasta, etc. A popular traditional Venetian dish I came across was Baccala’ Mantecata (Salted Codfish), but it wasn’t the dish itself that interested me. You cannot find this dish anywhere in Venice on a Monday, but why? The fishermen have the day off on Sunday. This idea of something being so reliant on local workers and traditional schedules made Venice now seem so humble, unlike how I had thought about it before. It made it the city not seem so groomed and camera-ready, but now relatable and even down to earth.


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Behind the Mask



Venice– a city of culture and art, flooded with tourists hoping to witness this engineering marvel. The canals, acting like veins pumping new life into the city as each new boat of tourists arrives. The crisscrossing network of bridges and alleyways are where one can get lost in beauty of corbel stone and street merchants selling their craftsmanship on luxury goods. There is rawness in the way Venetian’s live their life, uninhabited by the street traffic, shopping centres and skyscrapers we have now become accustom to.

This heritage site  of stone and Gothic architecture holds on tight to its roots in the past. An icon on the Venetian calendar– is Venice Carnival, taking over the island during the period before Lent, overwhelming the city with colour, dance and costume. But beneath the mask of festivities lays a history that many would miss. A city once known for its artists and intellects, for the wealthy and noble, Venice held an incredibly strict hierarchical system as an independent nation. The Carnival was formed as an outlet for freedom, for the rich and poor to disguise their unacceptable or forbidden behaviours behind their masks. In the peak of Venice, they had the ability to entice Europe with music and artwork. Yet it lost its charm in the 19th century, when the population diminished and the city’s independence was dissolved.

The revival of the Venice Carnival in 1979 reflected the efforts of the Italian government to restore the history and culture back into Venice. But it brought back more than just a tradition, with the return of the Carnival came a sense of identity, an identifiable icon bringing an abundance of new business and tourists. As the 2014 Venice Carnival has come to a close, it has once again shown how this festival is not only celebrating the history of costumes and masks, but celebrating the Venetian image – how the Venetians are portrayed to the outside world.