Venice, the city built on water
March 6, 2014 11:18 AM   Subscribe

We're planning a trip to Venice. I am fascinated by the fact that they built an entire city in a lagoon and am somewhat flabbergasted that I haven't been able to find a single place in the city where I can see a model or an exhibit that explains the construction. Is there really no place where I can learn more about Venetian engineering?
posted by Swiss Meringue Buttercream to Travel & Transportation around Venice, Italy (7 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know if it helps but the Strip the City show recently did one on Venice.
posted by Gungho at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2014

It's worth noting that the islands of Venice weren't specifically engineered. They're preexisting natural landmasses, though of course they've been altered over the centuries.

Venice has an archaeological museum, which might be worth a visit if this interests you. It looks like they mainly focus on antiquities, but there may be a part of the museum that documents the settlement of Venice and human alterations of the landscape over the years.

The Museo Correr might be a good place to check out, in combination with a tour of the Doge's Palace. If nothing else, there may be a docent or tour guide there who could answer some of your questions about Venice's structural history.

For what it's worth, I've been to Italy three times and traveled all over the country, and I've noticed that Italian museums tend to be seen more as exhibition spaces for Italy's unbelievably rich and varied cultural heritage, and less as instructional spaces about topics not closely connected to physical artifacts.

You might learn more by hiring a local tour guide.
posted by Sara C. at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you seen Venice Backstage?
posted by quarterframer at 11:58 AM on March 6, 2014

Venice did have islands, but the support for the foundations for the palazzi and other buildings comes from wooden piles reinforced and expanded by added stone and mud over time. There's quite an interesting piece here on a recent drilling done in a Venetian building, though it doesn't look like they have any events or poster sessions for 2014 listed yet. The Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia (the Natural History museum) also has some displays on the native flora and fauna of the lagoon-- I don't know if there is anything there specifically on the construction of the human settlements, but it might give you some background on the area. Other sites where you can see the earlier levels of the area are listed here, though reviews only seem to mention the old buildings in San Francesco and Torcello and not specific displays. Some of the churches might have small examples posted of their excavations, like the photos seen in that website. Sorry that I don't have an exact place to go, but I hope you have a great trip!
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:18 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe Puntolaguna, "the multimedia information centre providing information on activities to safeguard Venice and its lagoon delegated to the Italian State"? This appears to be the official publicity center for MOSE, the current floodgate project.
posted by nonane at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2014

Venetian historian, architect, local and posessor or enviable hair Francesco da Mosto made a BBC series about Venice - which does cover some of these issues and which can be found largely on Youtube starting here. I'd recommend it for anybody planning a trip.
posted by rongorongo at 12:21 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks, jetlagaddict, those seem to be the most promising for what I was looking for. I'll also definitely be checking out the recommended videos before I go on my trip. Thanks everyone!
posted by Swiss Meringue Buttercream at 10:01 AM on March 7, 2014

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