10 CONGRESS MYTHS YOU DIDN’T DARE TO ASK ABOUT, OR KNOW WHOM TO ASK
MYTH 1: Venice is made up of a collection of approximately 115 tiny islands.
CONFIRMED: The city of Venice itself is a kind of archipelago, made up of lots of tiny islets divided by canals, although it’s a lot simpler to think of the city as one island. The entire city is constructed on water, on millions of tree trunks planted vertically in the soil of the lagoon, for more than 1,000 years in some cases. There are 400+ pedestrian footbridges spanning the canals, the most famous being the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.
MYTH 2: Venice is also called Veniceland.
BUSTED: The city is known as the “Queen of the Adriatic”, the “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “The Floating City” and “City of Canals”, but due to the extremely high number of tourists flocking every year to this picturesque city, Venice could also be called Veniceland. The city welcomes over 27 million tourists a year and on any given day in the summer, its residents are outnumbered by visitors.
MYTH 3:The word/greeting “ciao” has Venetian origins.
CONFIRMED: In ancient times, the people in Venice greeted each other with “s-ciavo vostro”, which means “your servant, at your orders, your slave.” As time went by, the greeting became, at first, “s-ciao” and then “ciao”. It took on the meaning we know today sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries.
MYTH 4: Venice lacks big congress venues.
BUSTED: Venice hosts more than 1,200 conferences per year and about 180,000 participants. If we look at the ICCA 2015 rankings under the number of meetings, Venice is placed 132nd worldwide and holds 74th place on the European scale. A historical, modern, unconventional or unique venue for events, meetings, congresses or conferences… Venice has it all. Over 850 hotels are available within which around 200 are ranked with 4- or 5-stars. Venice also has many congress and conference centers, with the largest local Congress and Conference Centre of 4,000 seats. Also available are conference hotels with a capacity of up 1,100 seats, 40 villas, historic houses, prestigious residences, theatres and modern venues. If you don’t know where to start looking, turn to the Venice Convention Bureau that was established in 1982 and was the first in Italy.
MYTH 5: Venice is slowly sinking.
CONFIRMED: Not only is the city being reclaimed by the waters that made it famous, it now looks like it’s actually heading out to sea. Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimetres a year. The scientists say the reason lies in a combination of land subsidence and rising sea levels.
MYTH 6: Gondolas are one of the strongest symbols of Venice.
CONFIRMED: The gondola was a “taxi” to the Venetians during the centuries before the vaporetti arrived. A couple of hundred years ago there were about 10,000 gondolas but today there are only about 500. Taking a gondola ride through the canals of Venice can be very romantic and most informative, but it can also be very costly. A standard gondola ride is about 40 minutes and fits up to six people. All gondoliers are licenced (only three to four gondolier licences are issued annually) and must wear black pants, a striped shirt, hat and closed dark shoes. An interesting fact: it is extremely rare for women to become gondoliers. Venice appointed its first ever female gondolier, Giorgia Boscolo, in 2010.
MYTH 7: You can find one of the narrowest streets in Venice.
CONFIRMED: Calletta or Ramo Varisco is the narrowest street in Venice and is located on a side street near Campo San Canciano: it is one of the narrowest streets in the world at only 53cm at chest level.
MYTH 8: Gambling in Venice is forbidden and so is cycling.
BUSTED & CONFIRMED: We can bust the myth about gambling since the first public casino was born in Venice in 1638 as an attempt to limit gambling and moralize the customs of the Venetian lords. Casino di Venezia, the world’s oldest gaming house, has retained its charm today. On the other hand, we can confirm that it is forbidden to ride a bike in any part of Venice and drastic fines are handed out to those who are caught cycling.
MYTH 9: Venetians love to wear masks, especially during one of the best carnivals in the world.
CONFIRMED: Venetians love to wear masks at any given opportunity. Nowadays they display them during the famous Carnevale di Venezia, one of the most internationally known and oldest festivals celebrated in Venice, dating back to the 14th century. Throughout history, the Venice Carnival attracted foreigners – including princes – from all over Europe, who came to enjoy the wild festivities while spending their fortunes. Today, the festivities attract tourists from all over the world, and for a reason. It is a magnificent experience. St Mark’s Square is the fulcrum of Carnival activities, and that’s where you’ll find the most extraordinary costumes. And don’t forget to buy the most popular souvenir of them all – the Venetian mask sold on every corner.
MYTH 10: The list of famous Venetians is pretty long!
CONFIRMED: Famous Venetians include the explorer Marco Polo who has lent his name to the city’s airport, the composer Antonio Vivaldi, the adventurer and famous lover Giacomo Casanova, Francesco Guardi who is today considered one of the greatest painters of the 18th° century and many others. If you love culture and fine art, your list just got a lot longer!