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Our Venice

In the eleventh century in Venice candles were used for night lighting. Later they were replaced with lanterns lit with oil lamps because the risk of fire was high.

Santa Marina tabernacle

Tabernacles with votive lamps were placed in the squares, near bridges and close to canals so that one could move around more easily at night.

Gondoliers had their lamps for their working place

In the mid of the 1400 the Republic of Venice decreed that it was necessary to bring a lantern if one went out at night. Light bearers called ‘codegas’ were hired above all by aristocrats to accompany them to theatres, gambling houses and places of entertainment. In the late 1700s public lamps were nearly one thousand, and the ‘codegas’ were no longer needed. Some were employed as lamp lighters and some lost their jobs. During the Austrian domination lamp posts were lit with gas and from 1922 with electricity.

A three arms lamp post

Their screens, amethyst coloured acrylic sheets, are replaced from time to time and were initially made in Murano glass.

The three lights lamp posts with a green coloured stem , cleaned and repainted in the 1980s, are the most common ones you can spot out while you walk around the city. There are just one hundred pieces left of those prototypes.

A four arms lamp post in Saint Mark’s Square during a day of fog

In St. Mark’s Square the lamp posts are adorned by four lights. Unfortunately there are just ten pieces of those as many were damaged by high water over the years.

Base of a lamp post at Riva degli Schiavoni

Along the quayside a few bridges away from the famous square, there are four French-made lamp posts that were full of rust and were also recently cleaned. Their base is animated by four winged lions and their columns are finely decorated with branches and leaves.

A lamppost in a narrow street

In the backstreets you will see the one light lamps with no stems positioned above on a higher level to illuminate streets at night.

A lamp post near Mary and Jesus sheltered by an umbrella

Be careful that pigeons perch on any street lamp, so do as the Venetians do. We advise you to look up sometimes!

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The lagoon surrounding the city of Venice dates back to more than six thousand years ago. It extends for fifty kilometres in length and eleven in width.

Sixty-seven per cent of the lagoon is covered with water, twenty-five per cent is occupied by sandbanks and eight per cent by islands.

Sandbanks have different shapes and are submerged by ordinary and exceptional high tides depending on their level. A rich vegetation including flowers such as ‘salicornia’ , which turns violet in autumn, typical of the salt marshes not attacked by erosion and which predominates in clayey soils strongly soaked in brackish water.

The fishing valleys occupy 15% of the total area of ​​the lagoon. They are pools of water artificially dammed by man who governs the flow of water.

In the valleys, eels, mullets, sea bass, sea bream are bred, all species that can tolerate wide variations in salinity.

There is a rich fauna that lives in the lagoon, there are also many birds but also goats. According to recent research, the diet on Torcello included meat and fish, but also fruit and vegetables. (cucumbers, peaches and grapes).. Goats and sheep were kept alive for a long time, in order to exploit their milk and their woollen fleece for weaving.

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Venice is surrounded by a lot of water that is brackish. From the very beginning, Venetians understood that water was a common good for everyone. For this reason its protection has always been of great importance.

In order to provide the city with fresh water local people had to look elsewhere for ideas as they had no drinking water at their disposal.

Venice and its marshes

They took the Benedictine monks as a model., who built cisterns around the courtyards in their cloisters. In open squares, courtyards and in private palaces Venetians constructed cisterns to collect their drinking water.

Public cistern

There were at least six thousand ones in the city and many of them were in use until the end of the 19th century.

Cisterns were opened at the sound of bells by the chief of the district.

The guilds of arts and crafts such as the wool workers, who needed a lot of water for their activity, had to bring in fresh water using barges.

Private cistern used like a vase for plants

During shortages water was also brought in with barges and cisterns were filled or the ‘bigolanti’ , who were women, went round the city and sold water in the various districts. They put a ‘bigolo’, a kind of curved wood, around their neck, with two buckets at the ends, and they sold it by the bucket.

A richly decorated cistern, once inside a private palace

Venetians protected their fresh water being aware that it was a common good and that high water and animals polluted their wells. Animals had to be kept away to maintain hygiene and the wells were raised or constructed on a higher level to avoid high water. The cost of cleaning the well was so high that very often it was abandoned rather than cleaned.

Cistern on a higher level

Venice inaugurated its aqueduct at the end of the nineteenth century and its cisterns were closed little by little. Today they are just ornaments!

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