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International Affairs Why Buy? Excited to share I published my fourth travel essay with the magazine Transitions Abroad. Our latest guide to short story contests is now online Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. The Inc. Venice sits atop alluvial silt washed into the sea by the rivers flowing eastward from the alps across the Veneto plain, with the silt being stretched into long banks, or lidi , by the action of the current flowing around the head of the Adriatic Sea from east to west.
Subsidence , the gradual lowering of the surface of Venice, has led to the seasonal Acqua alta "high water" when much of the city's surface is occasionally covered at high tide. Those fleeing Barbarian invasions who found refuge on the sandy islands of Torcello, Iesolo, and Malamocco, in this coastal lagoon, learned to build by driving closely spaced piles consisting of the trunks of alder trees, a wood noted for its water resistance, into the mud and sand,   until they reached a much harder layer of compressed clay.
Building foundations rested on plates of Istrian limestone placed on top of the piles. Between autumn and early spring, the city is often threatened by flood tides pushing in from the Adriatic. Six hundred years ago, Venetians protected themselves from land-based attacks by diverting all the major rivers flowing into the lagoon and thus preventing sediment from filling the area around the city. In , to defray the cost of flood relief, Venice introduced what could be considered the first example of a " stamp tax ".
At first, this was to be a temporary tax, but it remained in effect until the fall of the Republic in Shortly after the introduction of the tax, Spain produced similar paper for general taxation purposes, and the practice spread to other countries. During the 20th century, when many artesian wells were sunk into the periphery of the lagoon to draw water for local industry, Venice began to subside. It was realized that extraction of water from the aquifer was the cause. The sinking has slowed markedly since artesian wells were banned in the s. However, the city is still threatened by more frequent low-level floods—the Acqua alta , that rise to a height of several centimetres over its quays—regularly following certain tides.
In many old houses, staircases once used to unload goods are now flooded, rendering the former ground floor uninhabitable.
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In May , Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inaugurated the MOSE Project Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico , an experimental model for evaluating the performance of hollow floatable gates; the idea is to fix a series of 78 hollow pontoons to the sea bed across the three entrances to the lagoon. When tides are predicted to rise above centimetres, the pontoons will be filled with air, causing them to float and block the incoming water from the Adriatic Sea.
The project is not guaranteed to be successful and the cost has been very high, according to a spokesman for the FAI similar to the National Trust. If the barriers are closed at only 90cm of high water, most of St Mark's will be flooded anyway; but if closed at very high levels only, then people will wonder at the logic of spending such sums on something that didn't solve the problem. And pressure will come from the cruise ships to keep the gates open. The hour average temperature in January is 3. Precipitation is spread relatively evenly throughout the year, and averages millimetres The city was one of the largest in Europe in the High Middle Ages , with a population of 60, in AD ; 80, in ; and rising up to ,—, in In the mid s the city's population was ,, and by almost , In , there were , people residing in the Comune of Venice the population estimate of , inhabitants includes around 60, in the historic city of Venice Centro storico , , in Terraferma the mainland ; and 31, on other islands in the lagoon ; Minors ages 18 and younger were This compared with the Italian average of The average age of Venice residents was 46 compared to the Italian average of In the five years between and , the population of Venice declined by 0.
Venice is predominantly Roman Catholic There is also a historic Jewish community in Venice. The word ghetto , originally Venetian , is now found in many languages. The first complete and uncensored printed edition of the Talmud was printed in Venice by Daniel Bomberg in Since the end of the war, the Jewish population of Venice has declined from to about Only around 30 Jews live in the former ghetto which houses the city's major Jewish institutions.
The whole pensolon municipality is divided into 6 boroughs. One of these the historic city is in turn divided into six areas called sestieri :. Each sestiere was administered by a procurator and his staff. Now, each sestiere is a statistical and historical area without any degree of autonomy. The six fingers or phalanges of the ferro on the bow of a gondola represent the six sestieri.
The sestieri are divided into parishes — initially 70 in , but reduced under Napoleon , and now numbering just These parishes predate the sestieri , which were created in about Each parish exhibited unique characteristics but also belonged to an integrated network. Each community chose its own patron saint, staged its own festivals, congregated around its own market center, constructed its own bell towers, and developed its own customs.
Other islands of the Venetian Lagoon do not form part of any of the sestieri , having historically enjoyed a considerable degree of autonomy. Each sestiere has its own house numbering system. Each house has a unique number in the district, from one to several thousand, generally numbered from one corner of the area to another, but not usually in a readily understandable manner.
The whole comune red in the Metropolitan City of Venice. The legislative body of the Comune is the Consiglio Comunale "city council" , which is composed of 45 councillors elected every five years with a proportional system, contextually [ clarification needed ] to the mayoral elections. The executive body is the City Committee Giunta Comunale , composed of 12 assessors nominated and presided over by a directly elected Mayor. Venice was governed by center-left parties from the s until the s, when the mayor started to be elected directly.
Its region Veneto has long been a conservative stronghold, with the coalition between the regionalist Lega Nord and the center-right Forza Italia winning absolute majorities of the electorate in many elections at communal, national, and regional levels.
Each borough is governed by a council Consiglio and a president, elected contextually [ clarification needed ] to the city Mayor. The urban organisation is dictated by Article of the Italian constitution. The boroughs have the power to advise the mayor with nonbinding opinions on a large spectrum of topics environment, construction, public health, local markets and exercise the functions delegated to them by the city council; in addition, they are supplied with autonomous funding to finance local activities.
The boroughs are:.
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Mainland terraferma , annexed with a Royal Decree, in , to the municipality of Venezia:. After the elections, five of the six boroughs are governed by the Democratic Party and its allies, and one by the center-right mayoral majority:. Venice's economy has changed throughout history. Although there is little specific information about the earliest years, it is likely that an important source of the city's prosperity was the trade in slaves, captured in central Europe and sold to North Africa and the Levant.
Venice's location at the head of the Adriatic, and directly south of the terminus of the Brenner Pass over the Alps, would have given it a distinct advantage as a middleman in this important trade. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance , Venice was a major center for commerce and trade, as it controlled a vast sea-empire, and became an extremely wealthy European city and a leader in political and economic affairs,. Other ports such as Genoa , Pisa , Marseille , Ancona , and Dubrovnik were hardly able to compete with the well organized transportation of pilgrims from Venice.
This all changed by the 17th century, when Venice's trade empire was taken over by countries such as Portugal, and its importance as a naval power was reduced. In the 18th century, then, it became a major agricultural and industrial exporter. The 18th century's biggest industrial complex was the Venice Arsenal , and the Italian Army still uses it today even though some space has been used for major theatrical and cultural productions, and as spaces for art.
Today, Venice's economy is mainly based on tourism, shipbuilding mainly in Mestre and Porto Marghera , services, trade, and industrial exports. The city is facing financial challenges.
The declining native population affects the character of the city, as an October National Geographic article pointed out in its subtitle: "Residents are abandoning the city, which is in danger of becoming an overpriced theme park". The Italian government would be responsible for losses from any uncollectible loans from the closed banks. Venice is an important destination for tourists who want to see its celebrated art and architecture.
To reduce the number of visitors, who are causing irreversible changes in Venice, the agency supports limiting the number of cruise ships   as well as implementing a strategy for more sustainable tourism.
Tourism has been a major part of the Venetian economy since the 18th century, when Venice—with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage—was a stop on the Grand Tour.