The canals in Italy, a different west side for the Waggoner Team.

Editor and publisher Mark Bunzel, along with Danielle and her parents who speak Italian, and ourselves as crew, welcomed the opportunity to cruise the canals of Italy located northeast of Venice.

The lush plains and hills of the Veneto area were hit hard by northern invaders during the decline of the Roman Empire; the Huns in 452 and the Lombards in 568. Villages were devastated by the invaders, driving the survivors away in search of refuge. With no secure retreat on the mainland, the refugees made their way to the marshes of the nearby lagoon, which served as a hideaway between the land and the Adriatic Sea. These people in their boats were the early founders of Venice, a remarkable city unlike any other.

The Canals of Italy: A Different West Side

Although living in the west, Venetians were beholden to imperial appointments that controlled government, and Roman Popes that controlled their church. By the 13th Century, Venice had a maritime empire that stretched across the Mediterranean Sea and had formed a free Republic. Our departure on Air Canada from Vancouver BC, with a changeover at Montreal, brought us to Venice International. We boarded a bus at the airport bound for Venice. With our bags in hand, we headed for our Air B&B in the heart of Venice. Walking over footbridges and through the narrow, twisting streets, we soon found it easier to hire a porter service to transport our bags in a street cart. We spent our day enjoying the cafés, and the sights and sounds of Venetian culture. One of our stops in Venice included a visit to a wood-working shop, where rudders are made and repaired for the local Gondolas, along with oars and oar locks.

It is not well known among visitors that the metal piece on the bow of the Gondola is symbolic of the Doge’s (Duke’s or Governor’s) Hat and the six metal teeth represent the six areas of Venice: Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Marco, San Polo, and Santa Croce. More recently, metal designs were added between the teeth on some of the Gondolas to represent the islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello. The ancient city of Venice, constructed over marshland, is an engineering marvel.

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