How Venice Stays Afloat

By Emily Knight - 2014-08-08T17:39:27Z

Photograph via Conde Nast Traveler

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A City of Islands

Gliding down the Grand Canal in a gondola or vaporetto, passing elegant palazzi cast in a cool Venetian light, it’s easy to forget that this medieval town is a modern, living city with functional needs like anywhere else. While Venice hosts millions of tourists throughout the year, 60,000 residents call it home. We sat down with Luca Zaggia, a marine scientist in Venice who consults with local government on engineering projects and who leads Context Travel’s Ecology of Venice walk, to learn more about how Venice works. From powering its buildings to collecting its trash, here is a glimpse of Venice behind its elegant facades and beneath its picturesque bridges.

The Islands of Venice

Venice lies in the middle of a lagoon, separated from the sea by thin strips of land. Twice every day the water in the lagoon drains away from the city’s 124 islands and fills up again with fresh seawater. This constant movement of water gives Venice its unique, ethereal character, but it also makes city maintenance a bear to handle.

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