History and Structure of Venice
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?Venice is one of the most fascinating places to travel in Europe.? Its intrigue lies in its unique beginnings, its dominant past, and its remarkable people and their buildings.? Its foundation is unique because of the need for protection that drove the early Venetians to their new home and the location of this new dwelling-place:? ?Rarely in human history has a vigorous and progressive civilization arisen in a less likely place than the mud flats of the Venetian lagoon.?1? Venice rose to power by its domination of the sea and reached its climax during the years of the Renaissance.? It is during this time period that it truly became ?the bride of the Adriatic and the unchallenged mistress of the Mediterranean.?2? This collection of small islands connected by canals and small strips of land became the home of an independent people and its architecture makes Venice ?a symbol of beauty.?3 ?
Geography and Foundation
The city of Venice is located at the far north of the Adriatic Sea, in what Dr. Timothy Fehler of Furman University calls ?the armpit of Italy.?4? Venice is situated on a chain of marshy islands protected from the Adriatic Sea by the Lidi, the sandbar-like islands further out in the water.? In describing the body of water Venice is located in, Horatio Brown states, ?Perhaps no piece of water in the world is more remarkable than this hundred and eighty-four square miles of Venetian lagoon.?5 because ?the lagoon is not a lake, still less is it a swamp, nor is it like the open sea.?6? At low tide the marshy islands of the lagoon are exposed, and at high tide Venice appears to be alone on the sea.? Lane describes the lagoon as ?mostly open water with a cluster of small islands, the chief of which was called Rivoalto (high bank), the future Rialto.?7 ?The habitants of these islands were primarily men who made ?a living in the mixture of mud, water, and sand? by fishing and drying seawater to get salt.8? This lifestyle was disrupted in the fifth and sixth centuries when mainlanders from Venetia fled to the marshy islands.
?As the Roman Empire was crumbling in Italy, Huns, Goths, and Lombards began invading towns in the north.? Citizens of Padua, Verona, and Vicenza were forced to travel to the islands of the lagoon.? The most influential invasion occurred in 452 when Attila the Hun drove everyone out of Venetia and they settled ?on the muddy, reed-covered islands of the Rivo Alto.?9? Alethea Wiel claims that the residents of Venezia decided to ?fix an abiding and permanent dwelling-place among the isles and estuaries of the sea; and that moment may be looked upon as the date of the foundation of Venice.?10? The newcomers discovered a thick layer of clay was under the islands.? They put down wooden piles into the clay, then covered these with oak logs and rocks to create the foundation of Venice:? ?it is strange to think how from the shifting unstable formation of mud-bands and...