5 things you probably don't know about Venice

How well do you think you know Venice? Probably never enough.  Venice is a city with a lot of history and like many other medieval cities, it’s surrounded by several legends and myths.

Starting with the fact that Venice is a city completely built on water, there are a lot of other things you probably don’t know about, that we are going to reveal in this article.

1. How many bridges does Venice have?

Have you ever wondered how many bridges connect a floating city like Venice? It’s a huge number actually, considering that there was only one bridge in the past: the Rialto Bridge. 

In fact, people used to move around Venice with their own boat so bridges weren’t really necessary at that time but then things changed and today the city counts about 400 bridges. To be precise, there are 391 bridges connecting about 118 small islands Venice is built on.

2. The fires of the Doge’s Palace

The Doge’s Palace is one of the undisputed symbols of Venice and the place where the Serenissima Republic used to administer justice. The architecture of the palace is really impressive, especially if we consider the fact that it was affected by two fires, in the past. 

The first one was in 976 which partially burnt the St. Mark’s Basilica and the close St. Teodoro Church too. From the documents, we know that Pietro I Orseolo – the Doge in charge –  was able to pay for the reconstruction of the palace himself, which means that probably the damage wasn’t that bad.

Doge's Palace

In 1577, another fire damaged the Doge’s Palace and because of it, we lost a lot of precious paintings, such as the Coronation of Virgin Mary in Heaven, by Guariento D’Arpo (1365) which decorated the Great Council Hall. Today, in its place, you can admire the beautiful Paradiso by Tintoretto.

3. The word “ciao” was born in Venice

You certainly know the word “ciao”, which is the most common form of salutation in Italy. This 4-letter word sees its origin in a phrase Venetians used to say “s-ciào vostro” – literally meaning “I am your slave” – that can be compared to the English way of saying “at your service”. Over time, the expression was shortened to “ciao”, which is the one everyone uses today.

4. The two red columns of the Doge’s Palace

Not all the columns of the Doge’s Palace are white. This is not a joke, in fact, if you look up to the first-floor loggia from the Piazzetta, you’ll notice that the 9th and 10th column are red! History has it that the Doge used to attend the performance in the Piazzetta from here and it seems that the sentences of death were proclaimed from here too.

Gondola ride in Venice

5. Gondolas haven’t always been black

Every tourist who comes to Venice should take agondola ride, not only because it’s an incredible experience you can only live here, but also because this unique transportation is the one Venetian nobles used to take to get around the city, as well as you take your car today.

But there’s a thing about the gondola that you probably don’t know: it hasn’t been always black. In fact, Venetian aristocratic families used to decorate and color their gondolas to show off their power and wealth. But this gondola’s embellishment became degenerate, so the government declared that from that moment on gondolas would have been just black, to avoid any kind of competition between families.

So, now that you know 5 more things about Venice, we can ask you the question again: how well do you think you know Venice?