Venice has to be my most favorite city to stroll around and photograph – once you escape the crowds or explore it outside of the busy periods.
There is no denying its visual appeal, practically no matter where you walk, you can find photographic subjects – and this is perhaps the problem with Venice – there is so much it is overwhelming in quantity of imagery that it is often taken for granted.
Why does a unique city like Venice even exist?
Who in their right minds would build a city on a swamp land which floods the city frequently every time a king tide comes in.
It seems the story begins around 800AD borne out of necessity to escape the barbarian hordes on horseback invading Italy from the north as a result of the fall of the Roman Empire several centuries earlier.
Horses and swamps are not a great mix, but the early Venetians had a massive problem – fish to eat and water all around but no fresh potable water to drink. The clever Venetians designed an amazing solution – to build self-filtering wells in the centre of campi (squares) so the rainwater could be directed via gutters into an underground area of sand which filtered the water but prevented the water mixing with sea water by having the massive underground pits lined with clay. The filtered water would then pass through “pozzali” (bricks) and into the well pipe from which it could be extracted by authorized citizens who prevented it from becoming soiled, and kept it locked to secure it. The surface area of the campi collecting rainwater equated to around 10% of the city’s surface area and each inhabitant had a right to around 6L of water per day.
These wells were critical to the success of the developing city, and when rain water was inadequate, from 1386, they were filled by water brought by boat from the mainland. The “acquaroli” who brought the water by boat also took the rubbish back to the mainland.
In 1609, a water channel was built to bring water from the Brenta River to Moranzani to reduce the distance of boat transport of the water.
NB. If the following images do not display in correct aspect ratio for your device, click on them an open them in a new browser tab. Unless specified, most of these images were taken using the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens – although slightly longer and heavier than one would like for travel, it is easily my most favorite travel lens which allows me to find vignettes and get past the crowds. There is no equivalent lens in the full frame market which can match the range and quality of this lens and this value adds to my Micro Four Thirds cameras significantly.
In 1884, an underground water pipeline was completed which was the beginning of the end of the wells which had become difficult to maintain and were inadequate for the needs of the population.
When one walks an average of 10km a day around these cities on holiday travels, a small, light, compact camera kit such as the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 mark III would allow a lot less back strain than carrying a Sony with the massive, heavy Canon TS-E 17mm tilt shift as I did on some days (it did end up being left in the room most days!).