In his novel Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino has Marco Polo say, “Every time I describe a city, I am saying something about Venice.” Half (self-proclaimed) veneta, half British, I empathise with the great Venetian explorer. Having spent the last 10 years visiting, holidaying, and periodically working in the Veneto, the spellbinding, northern region misunderstood by many, I found when I first arrived in Florence that I was searching for what I knew of Italy in this equally mesmerising city.
Everything about Venice has always isolated it from the rest of the world. While Ancient Rome and the Papal states were forming on the peninsula, the island of Venice, bereft of its modern-day bridge to the mainland, was truly inaccessible and initially populated in the Middle Ages by people fleeing attacks from the Lombards. Settlers began constructing a city that would become one of the most famous in the world, on huge wooden trunks brought down from the Cansiglio forest in the north of the Treviso province.