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Ancestor City Of Venice Discovered By Satellite Imaging


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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2008, 01:53:04 pm »










                                                  THE TURNING WESTWARD






After the War of Chioggia and with Genoa out of the way, Venice felt restored in power and prosperity. Yet, the Lord of Padua had not given up his ambition to humble Venice. His aggressive policy became a real menace when he threatened to cut Venice off from the Alpine passes leading to Germany.
The Republic could no longer remain aloof from all that was taking place behind her back.

 At the turn of the 14th C in fact we shall see a shift in the Venetian strategy: the turning westwards and Venice's expansionism on mainland Italy
If sea lanes of the eastern Mediterranean were the foundation of Venice's wealth, its dominance as a trading centre depended on the possibility of reaching other markets, relying on free access to the rivers and mountain passes of northern Italy. Thus, although Venetian foreign policy was predominantly eastward-looking, a degree of intervention on the mainland was inevitable, especially with the rise in the 14 C of ambitious dynasties such as the Scaligeri in Verona, the Carrara in Padua and the Visconti in Milan.

The political and military intrigues of northern Italy in this period are extremely complicated: alliances were regularly made and betrayed, and cities were changing hands with bewildering frequency. Venice formed an alliance with F lorence to counter the expansionistic campaign of the Scaligeri of Verona (gaining control on Treviso and the surrounding areas).

At the close of the 14th C the Doge and Senate were watching with increasing alarm the Carraras of Padua eager to expand their territory. The Senate checked them for a while by supporting their opponents and finally took the extreme step of allying with the ruler of Milan, the dangerous Gian Galeazzo Visconti. Together they overthrew the Carraras and shared their lands. Yet the Venetians realized that the Visconti could now become the real threat... luckily their concern didn't last long for Gian Galeazzo was carried off by a plague and Venice could take advantage of the vacancy in the Milanese state and gain control on vast portions of territories.

Having once turned to the mainland, Venice was to end by coveting greater imperialistic ambitions which will later come down on her head.
You Venetians - had warned the Duke of Milan - are wrong to disturb the peace of Italy, and not rest content with the fine state that is yours. If you only knew how everyone hates you, your hair would stand on end!

And a similar warning had come from the 80-year old doge Tommaso Mocenigo in his "Farewell Address" made just before his death. His speech was directed against those who thought Venice could gain wealth from wars in Lombardy, and extolled on the other hand the high prosperity brought by peace.

 The leading advocate of the policy criticized by the old Mocenigo was a man known primarily as an aggressive politician: Francesco Foscari.

"Beware of Messer Francesco Foscari" came the warning of the doge Mocenigo "He is a vainglorious braggart... If he becomes doge" - read his speech - "you will find yourselves constantly at war; you'll fail even to keep your long-johns and will become the slaves of your men at arms and their captains".
Yet Francesco Foscari was elected, and his election marked the beginning of thirty years of almost constant warfare in Lombardy.

These Lombard wars were in part naval wars! The battle to control the city of Brescia fought on Lake Garda is quite remarkable: Venetian galleys were rowed through the rivers and then with 120 oxen to a galley, pulled over hills to reach the lake.

 For warfare of that kind, Venice relied on mercenary captains. They were called condottieri because they operated according to a contract, a condotta which stated the amount of money they received for their services. Bartolomeo Colleoni was one of the most celebrated of all condottieri. At his death he even left 100,000 ducats to Venice on condition that an equestrian monument should be erected to his memory in St. Mark's square... The money was surely needed by the State Treasury whose coffers had been exhausted by the long wars; on the other hand a monument in St. Mark's Square would have been contrary to the traditions of Venice, which had never consented to excessive glorification of single individuals. So they resorted to a cunning diplomatic compromise and erected the monument in front of St. Mark's ... confraternity - in Campo San Giovanni Paolo.

By mid-15th C Venice's so called land-state was formed a territory which reached Bergamo and Brescia on the west and extended eastwards onto Istria and Dalmatia, a state of affairs officially sanctioned in 1454 by the Treaty of Lodi.
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« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2008, 01:54:47 pm »










                                                       THE OTTOMAN TURKS






Another reason for the turning westward is to be found in the expansion of the Ottoman Turks in the Levant. In 1453, in fact, Constantinople fell in the hands of the Turks. The Venetians concentrated their efforts to avoid any offense to the Ottoman sultan so as not to confront the full power of the Turkish army. Yet, in 1470, Mehmet attacked Negroponte, Venice's main base in the North Aegean, and also snatched bits of territories here and there.

However, the Venetians were soon to compensate their losses with the acquisition of Cyprus.

 The acquisition of this important island was the result of a combination of shrewd diplomacy and shameless opportunism. The Republic arranged in fact the marriage of the beautiful 14 year-old Caterina Corner to King James of Cyprus. Caterina was formally adopted as daughter of the Republic and then shipped to Cyprus. When James died about a year later, the Republic decided that this beloved daughter had better abdicate in favour of her adopted mother, the Republic. In October 1488 in fact Cyprus was formally incorporated in the Venetian Sea-State and its Queen sent back to Venice. The Doge even sailed out in his state barge to greet her.

 A stately procession up the Grand Canal then followed. The event is one of the grandest ceremonies we still celebrate every year on the first Sunday of September: the Historical Regatta, a memento of all the pomp and pageantry the Venetians loved so much.
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« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2008, 01:56:38 pm »










                                                      A TURNING POINT





In 1494 Italy was invaded by Charles VIII of France, an intervention which Venice lost no time in exploiting. By playing the various territorial contenders off against each other, Venice succeeded in adding bits and pieces to the her "land-state". by the end of the 15th C Venice held a vast portion of territory, coveting greater imperialistic ambitions which will eventually come down on her head. By now, the Italian powers were in fact suspicious that Venice may upset the balance of power and dominate the whole peninsula.

The last straw fell in 1503, when the Venetians found the temptation to strike at the Papal State. Enough was enough.

The pope, France, Germany and other Italian city-states formed an alliance against Venice - the League of Cambrai - and smashed her army at Agnadello in 1509. The fall of the Venetian state seemed inevitable. Yet, shrewd diplomacy and a shift of the alliances made it possible for Venice to recover practically all her possession on the mainland

The Venetian government, however, realized that the City could no longer match wits with the great European powers. They decided to drop further expansionistic ambitions and go for a policy of neutrality. Their frailty and impotence could never be admitted and were in fact masked as a decision of its wise administration. Venice began to address herself as the Serenissima, the Most Serene Republic, claiming to be a model to regard with no less admiration than those of the Greeks' and the Romans' in ancient times.

 Her government has decided to devote all energies to the strengthening of institutions and the reorganising of her relationships with the subject territories and with European and Italian states. Basically, a policy of public relations to promote the Myth of a glorious state whose force was still to be reckoned with.

The new course transpires in the works of art produced throughout the century. The paintings in the Ducal Palace - the Government building - reflect the glory of Venice and illustrate land battles, sea fights, diplomatic victories... The allegorical and mythological scenes are added with propagandist significance and conscripted into Venetian service.
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« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2008, 01:58:11 pm »









                                                      DECLINE AND PRIDE






Despite military setbacks, the expansion of the Turks and the discovery of new worlds and alternative sea routes, Venice remains a powerful state throughout the 16th C. Then, at the turn of the century, the Republic will start loosing predominance. During the decade after 1602, the volume of trade moving through Venice fell forty percent

Compared to great European monarchies, such as France or Spain, Venice is now a small state and has no more say in international matters. She relies on a policy of neutrality and the ability of her ambassadors to keep afloat. Yet, although the Venetian state was on its last legs, it held its head high. And in fact at the time of the Counter-reformation Venice kept a stiff upper lip and had the nerve to take a stand against the Pope.

This happened when Venice restricted the amount of the tithe, the tax that monasteries paid to the Church of Rome - and then imprisoned two priests charged with secular crimes - **** and child molesting. The Pope's demand for the return of the priests and the repeal of the monastic legislation was firmly rebuffed, and the upshot was a papal interdict in April 1606, forbidding all religious services in the Venetian territory.

Excommunication for the entire city followed. In retaliation, Venice booted out the Jesuits and threatened with exile or death any priest who wouldn't ignore the interdict. And when priest in Padua insisted that the Holy Spirit had moved him to obey the pope, he was informed by the Council of Ten that the Holy Spirit had already moved them to hang all dissenters. Venice obtained the support of the King of England, James I and eventually French mediation brought about a resolution which required no compromise from the Venetians.
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« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2008, 01:59:49 pm »










                                                       THE LAST CENTURY






Despite her declining political weight, Venice in the 17th and 18th Cs was the centre of European culture offering numerous attractions. In the 17th and 18th Cs Venice had the reputation of being the gayest and most inconsequential of European capitals.

Among the many features that drew visitors to the city were her theatres and her music. Venice was the opera centre of the world in the 17th C..

In 1637 the S. Canciano Theater performed Europe's first opera before a paying public. Elsewhere operas were performed at that date only in the closed world of princely courts.

 Venice’s Opera House was opened in 1792. Its name, La Fenice, couldn’t be more appropriate. The Phoenix, in fact, was a mythological bird reputed to rise from its own ashes. In the case of this theatre, this already happened once, when it was rebuilt following a terrible fire in 1836. And as you probably know, the Fenice was again gutted by a fire in January 1996 and was recently rebuilt.

 The taste for music in Venice grew apace until 18C. In addition to the accademies and private concerts which took place every night in one palace or another, the “Ospedali” (orphanages) began to organize paying concerts where vocal and instrumental music were given by the young girls of these institutions. They were standing in a n upper gallery hidden behind a grill. The success of these concerts were so immense that great masters such as Galuppi and Vivaldi welcomed the opportunity of directing them.

From 1703 Antonio Vivaldi taught at the musical seminary of La Pietà, where he was the violin master and occasionally also the choirmaster. Vivaldi was an incomparable virtuoso and composed approximately 250 violin concerts.

In 1700 the city counted 17 theatres. Her theatres began to give more time to spoken drama. Both tragedies and comedies attracted audiences which expressed their reactions vociferously. "Claques" organized to boo or cheer were recruited particularly among the gondoliers who were rewarded with free admission.

Among the hundreds of productions, it is the comedies that are of most interest, especially those of Carlo Goldoni who contributed to provide Italy with a tradition of written comedies. Before Goldoni, in fact, the Commedia dell'Arte depended largely on pantomime that was almost acrobatic and improvised by the actors.

 Tourists in the 18th C Venice found her public gambing rooms even more popular than the theatres.The Ridotto was among the most popular ones, opened in 1638 by Marco Dandolo in his palace. It was later described by the Major Council as a place of " solemn, continuous, universal and violent gambling". In fact in 1774 the Council ordered the closure of the premises, because several families had been completely bankrupted there.

 And nunneries on the other hand simply continued to be popular. They had a long-lived tradition to defend: notorious is the episode that in 1509 saw the nuns of the Celestia admitting a bunch of young noblemen into their convent and dancing all night with them to the sound of pipes and trumpets. And what about the banquets celebrated in some convents, with the nuns at the grill sipping drinks with the aid of straws passed through the bars?
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« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2008, 02:01:07 pm »









                                                     VENETIAN CARNIVAL






Carnival was a pagan ritual marking the end of the old year on winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. With Christianity it became the time when confessions were made in preparation for Lent. And Carnival probably derives from old Italian “Carne levare”, a farewell to meat - and flesh! - before the rigours of Lenten fast. Eventually, it evolved in a relatively short period of merrymaking which reached its climax the day before Ash Wednesday.

Well, in Venice Carnival began on Boxing-day, the day after Xmas, and ended with Mardi Gras...The ceremonies accompanying the event were just extraordinary:

 The flight of the angel was an acrobatic stunt where an equilibrist had to jump from the bell tower, slide on a rope and end in the arms of the doge assisting on the balcony to give him a bunch of flowers. Bullfights instead took place in the campi (the squares of Venice).
Consider that in February 1789 the doge Paolo Renier died and the announcement of his death was postponed, so as not to spoil the Carnival!

 But masks and the same gay spirit lasted almost all year round. The mask was used as a disguise to go to parties, brothels, gambling houses, nunneries.
From early date, tourists reporting on Venice included enthusiastic or disgusted comments on her courtesans. The most notorious picture of Venetian licentiousness is to be found in the memoirs of Giacomo Casanova.
Coffee houses multiplied. There were dozen around the Piazza, including Florian which opened in 1720 and Quadri in 1775.

So, 18th C Venice was pervaded by a spirit of festivity, and light-heartedness which derived from the absence of any serious purpose arising from political involvement.
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« Reply #21 on: September 27, 2008, 02:02:37 pm »









                                                              THE END






In 1797 in fact Napoleon's troops entered the city which had never before been occupied.

Napoleon demanded that the government dissolve itself and turn power over to a democratic municipal council to be protected by French soldiers. The doge Ludovico Manin summoned the members of the Maggior Consiglio and proposed to accept Napoleon's demands for this seemed the only way to "preserve unharmed the Religion, Life and Property of all these most beloved inhabitants": he was asking for some sort of a political suicide for the interest of the state a principle which prevailed in the decisions of the ruling class until the very end.

The debate was opened when from outside the Palace a burst of musket shots was heard: a contingent of mercenaries was preparing to leave and that was their salute to the Republic. Those shots were enough to scare the members of the Great Council who hurriedly voted the old constitution out of existence.

Napoleon plundered Venice systematically. Then, to buy time for his imperial schemes, he turned it over to Austria by the Treaty of Campoformio (October 17th).

 Eight years later Napoleon took Venice back, having meanwhile defeated Austria. In 1805 he added it to his Kingdom of Italy. A decade of French rule brought changes typical of Napoleonic administration. A good number of monasteries and churches were suppressed notorious is the demolition of Sansovino's Church of St. Giminiano opposite St. Mark in 1807 to make way for a Ballroom in what had become Napoleon's Royal Palace.
Public gardens were opened (again, with no mercy for pre-existing architecture).

Last but not least, we are told that Napoleon cherished the plan to dredge part of the lagoon to the south-east and connect Venice with the mainland. Luckily he never had the time to accomplish it.
Smashed at Waterloo, Napoleon was exiled in the Island of St. Helena where he died. The Congress of Vienna in 1815 reassigned Venice to Austria.
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« Reply #22 on: September 27, 2008, 02:03:52 pm »










                                                 THE FOREIGN DOMINATION






 Under Austrian occupation, Napoleonic policies for improving the city's network of streets and canals were continued. Streets were widened, bridges restored or rebuilt, canals dredged.
The simplest, cheapest method of creating new streets was the filling in of canals. The Rialto Bridge ceased to be the only bridge spanning the Grand Canal when the Accademia bridge was built in 1854. Four years later it was the turn of the Scalzi's near the station. The first structures were in iron, later replaced by the present bridges.

 Now, as we go through this list of improvements, we must say that such efforts at modernisation also involved taxes on the citizens at a time when economy was totally neglected, the port of Trieste having gained much of Venice's trade.

In 1846 the city effectively lost her insular status, when the first railway bridge across the lagoon was opened. 14 yrs later a stretch of historic buildings on the Grand Canal, including the church of St. Lucia from which the station derives its name, were ruthlessly demolished to make way for new terminal buildings.
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« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2008, 02:05:16 pm »









                                                                ITALY






After the annexation to the newly-formed Italian nation in 1866, the policies for modernising the city were given new life by the greater commitment of the new Italian administration. Impetus was given to the development of Venetian industry.

 Among the new economic ventures was the Mulino Stucky, a flour-milling complex on the Giudecca which is now being converted into a conference center.

After the first World War, the most significant manifestation of the rise of the borgeois was the development of the Venetian Lido. When Goethe had visited the Lido in 1786 the long sandy island had been inhabited only by a few fishermen and the Benedectine monks of St. Nicolò.

 Then, progress. The first bathing establishment on the Lido was opened in 1857.

By the time that Thomas Mann published his novel "Death in Venice" in 1912, the Lido had become one of the bourgeois playground of Europe.

 The consecration of the Lido as a very exclusive sea-side resort came with the first Biennale Exhibition of Cinematographic Art in 1932, the first movie festival ever conceived . The aim of the event was to raise cinema to the same level of the other arts". On that occasion "Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hide" (Rouben Mamoulian) represented he Us and "Faithful Heart" (Victor Saville) the Uk.

And Venice was also invested by this wave of urban restructuring schemes.

 The building of the Cassa di Risparmio in Campo Manin is an example of modern architecture in the city clashing with the context in which it is inserted. The **** of the building in 1964 proved disastrous for the massive structure dragged down the piling structure of the surrounding buildings.

Luckily, today rigid planning restrictions control the **** of new buildings as well as visible alterations to historic buildings.
After the First World War, the stage was set for the deterioration and depopulation of Venice.

In 1917 the Ministry for Work approved the project for an industrial port to be located on the immediate coastline of the terra-firma. The industrial port attracted its workforce from the hinterland rather than providing employment for the Venetians. And those Venetians who found employment there, left Venice to live in nearby Mestre, thus beginning a wave of migration towards cheaper and more comfortable housing which reduced the population of Venice to 70,000 souls, one third of what it used to be.

The creation of the industrial park and its enlargement in the 60's upset not only the city's balance but the equilibrium of the lagoon as well. And it is not just a matter of pollution...
The industries in fact have contributed to the aggravation of a phenomenon which we familiarly call acqua alta, high tide.
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« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2008, 02:07:18 pm »









                                             PROBLEMS OF THE PRESENT DAYS






 The acqua alta has always been a natural feature in Venetian life. We have records of disastrous
floods as early as in 1240, like this one, reporting that " Today the water was the height of a man above the streets".

The acqua alta is in fact a combination of seasonal tides and particular weather conditions. The lagoon is connected with the Adriatic sea, and therefore the lagoon basin experiences two high tides and two low tides every day.

During high tide the sea flows in through the three port-mouths that provide access to the lagoon; then, during ebb tide it flows back out into the Adriatic, carring refuse with it. The motion of water within the basin is circular, and because of this scouring action Venice didn’t need sewers. Twice-daily tidal movements were enough until fairly recently to keep the water relatively fresh.

Now, it is a southern, warm wind which alters the natural flowing of water. First it forces the water of the Adriatic sea through the three port-mouths and then its constant blowing prevents the water from flowing back out again.

The presence of the industrial area - however - has aggravated this phenomenon. Firstly, as you can see on this slide the industries were accommodated on a portion of land which had to be reclaimed, quite vast as you can see, so that space to contain the mass of water flowing in the lagoon has been reduced (the effect is similar to throwing a stone in a basin).

Furthermore, the three channels that provide access to the lagoon have been deepened to allow big tankers through the lagoon.

Consider that in the old days submerged sandbanks protected access to the lagoon, water spilled slowly across it and the violence of the tides was thus cushioned. Ships-of-the-line were brought from and to the Arsenal by attaching to them some kind of pontoons called "camels" to reduce their draught. (It was a protection from enemies..)

Finally, subsidence. Industries (1930) drew millions of gallons of water from artesian wells and that caused a dramatic fall in the water table (18 cm ca.), the sinking which had been going on slowly, about half inch in ten years, became relatively rapid, about two inches in ten years, until the danger of this operation was detected and the practice stopped.

As Venetians, we have grown used to acqua alta. In our own way, we are organized. We have our rubber boots, an alarm which sets off and can be heard in the whole lagoon. And then all the gang-planks where people can walk on. Yet, in the last fifty years, because of the reasons I have just listed, the phenomenon has presented itself more and more frequently, flooding being more and more disastrous.

 The most disastrous of all floods is that recorded in November 1966, year when the Arno overflowed in Florence. The water in St. Mark's - which is one of the lowest areas in the city - had risen six and a half feet above normal. Water was lashing in, huge waves were breaking against the columns of St. Mark. All telephone lines were out of order, electricity had failed, most of the gas lines were disrupted, all ground-floor stores and dwellings were flooded. It was impossible to move about the city except by boat. Ebb tide was expected around 6:00 PM. Six o'clock had arrived and to everyone's dismay and terror the water had not receded, it had risen.

By 8:00 PM the Venetians, marooned in their unlighted, unheated homes, realized that it wasn't just another acqua alta, that was a major disaster. Then suddenly, shortly after 9:00 PM the water began receding. By midnight Venice was above water and the Venetians were out in their boots to inspect the havoc by candlelight.

 To some the scene looked like a gigantic funeral: skeletons of boats and gondolas, mattresses, garbage, dead pigeons and rats were scattered everywhere, floating in the canals. Damage estimates ranged as high as $ 64,000,000. Injury to the monuments was all but incalculable.

(On December 2nd of that very same year the then Director of Unesco called upon for contributions to the safeguard of Venice and Florence.

In 1973, when the Italian government enacted its first Special Law for Venice, Unesco transferred its emergency office in Rome to Venice.)

The disastrous floods have also resulted in urging a solution to the problem.
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« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2008, 02:10:41 pm »








                                                                      THE MOSE'






 The solution to the problem should to be some sort of a submerged barrage system called Mose', after the great manipulator of waters.

The costly project was to involve laying 80 steel flaps on the floor of the 3 canals that provide access to the lagoon; in case of emergency the ballast is released from the flaps and the barrier rises to protect the city.

Yet, Mose' remains a very controversial issue and many experts and politicians are definitely against it.

It has been the object of extensive studies and testing, but experts claim the problems are the deeper effect of a series of neglect and rushed-in decisions that never showed any consideration for one fact: that the existence of Venice has always depended on the equilibrium of its lagoon, something the old Venetians were very much aware of.

In the 13Century the government had established a body in charge of all public and private waters. A proper Magistracy was created in 1501.




A plaque dating from the 16th C reads:





"The city of the Venetians,

with the help of the Divine Providence,

was founded on water,

it is encircled by water,

it is defended by water instead of walls:

thus, any-one who attempts  in whatever way to harm the public waters

should be declared enemy of the city and judged as he who violates the

sacred walls of his home country.



The validity of this edict is perpetual".






So we finish with this:

The testimony of the great love the old Venetians had showed for their city, a city which is the triumph of a
people who turned barren mudflats into a supreme work of beauty.

A city which deserves and demands respect from all of us.





written by

C. Trevisan and L. Sabbadin



Venice Guide and Boat ©

2005, 2006, 2007




http://www.veniceguideandboat.it/venicehistory.htm
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