Over the water3.6.2015
Chi Heng PUNVenice Biennale Intern
Venice is famous for its beautiful scene along the great canal for sure. In the city, you can find many small canals and bridges connecting all the islands. If you ask Venetians whether they like living over the water or not, the answer must be a mixture of love and hate. To understand the reason, we have to trace back the history of why people started living in Venice. During the period of Roman Empire, the Barbarians wanted to invade the land and people living nearby escaped to ancient Venice. Gradually, they began to live there for a long-term basis. Surrounded by water, they soon enjoyed the benefit from the city’s location. Venice was once one of the most important cities of trade in Italy. Since that time, Venetians’ lives have been closely tied with water.
There are always two sides to a coin. Water also brings problem to Venice – flooding, which local people calls high water. The rising water level is caused by high tides. The problem becomes more serious in recent decades due to the global climate change.
Still, Venetians seems to embrace the destiny of living with the water. Every year, there’s a prominent festival called Festa della Sensa-the Marriage of the Sea. Its history can be dated back to 1000A.D. It’s a celebration with water parade of decorated rowing boats as well as rowing competition. Here in Venice, you can also experience the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics, another boat race and parade that take turn to happen in the four ancient Maritime Republics, others are namely, Genova, Pisa and Amalfi. Usually, races will run between San Macro and Lido, passing by Arsenale.
While mentioning Arsenale, there’s also a story relating to water. In the past, Arsenale represented the maritime power of the city. It was a site of manufacturing military ships as well as a base for naval fleets and gun production. It is said that the naming of Castello, one of the six districts in Venice and where Arsenale is located, was taken from the shape of Arsenale. Castello means castle in Italian. Nowadays, the site itself is still preserved with red walls. Just next to it locates the Naval History Museum where military ships and oars are displayed. There’s also a navy boarding school at the edge of the island called Francesco Morosini Naval Military School training future sailors for Italian Royal Navy.