Common Watercraft of Venice Italy

November 24, 2020

There are a variety of watercraft used in modern Venice today. To cross the Adriatic Sea, ferry lines use a variety of vessels, many are the most modern designs available. Two of these designs are the hydrofoil and the air cushion catamaran. The hydrofoil uses wing-like structures beneath the bottom of the boat. These wings work exactly like the wings of an aircraft. Usually, these wings lie beneath the water, but at higher speeds the wings create lift and pull the boat out of the water. This creates less drag with less of the boat in the water and allows the boat to travel at higher speeds.

The air cushion catamaran (also known as a surface effect ship) combines the technology of the catamaran and the hovercraft. The air cushions sit between the twin hulls of the catamaran and are located at the front and the back of the boat. This effect allows the craft to move at higher speeds without discomforting the passengers as the two air cush- ions act like shock absorbers.

Trips offered by various ferry lines around the Adriatic Sea. (

A Hydrofoil. (

Small personal craft (runabouts or dinghies) are also commonly used in Venice. As no cars are allowed in the city center, these small boats often take on that role and usually come with certain creature comforts and items you’d find in a car and cost somewhere between 1000 and 5000 euros. These boats are often used for commuting or for more water relat- ed activities like fishing.

The MOSE and the Arsenale

The MOSE (MOdulo Sperimentale Elettomeccanio) is a project on the outside of the lagoon. It is a set of four floodgates at each entrance to the lagoon that rise out of the water when the city is threatened by ex- treme flooding.

The center of this operation is located in the Arsenale. Here, vessels

and panels of the floodgates are taken into drydocks to be maintained. The MOSE project also uses some of the old warehouses and factories as their offices.

The arsenale is named after a Turkish word for “place of production” and that’s exactly whats this place was. The Arsenale was originally a shipyard with factories for materials and goods needed on ships such as rope. Some of the shipyards were covered to protect the work from the weather. The Arsenale was expanded twice in the 1200s and the 1500s and used as a fort for the military to protect from Turkish threat. Howev- er, eventualy, the shipyards could no longer build ships of the size re- quired and they shut down. Today, this area is used as the drydocks for the MOSE, a night club, as well as the location of the Bienalle.

The location of the four flood gates and the Arsenale.

Infrastructure of Venice

Venice has been constantly sinking (a process called subsidence) which increases the amount of flooding that occurs. The cause was determined to be from the extraction of water from underground aquifers which is a practice that has since been banned in 1960. Venice faces flooding due to a phenomena of high tide called Acqua alta mainly during the autumn and spring. Many of the older houses have become flooded on the first floor and have changed the second floor to become the new “ground floor”.

The foundations of the buildings are constructed from closely spaced wooden piles. The piles are less prone to decay being underwater in oxygen-poor conditions than they would be above the water and have lasted for centuries so far. The piles are dredged deep into the sandy mud until they reach the layer of hard clay. The piles are typically made from the alder tree that is water resistant. On top of the piles is a layer of dense Istrian limestone.

Venice Transportation (Gondolas)

There are around 400 licensed gondoliers today for carrying tourists around, much different from the eight to ten thousand that used to travel the canals in the 17th and 18th centuries. Gondolas are row boats like canoes but with a narrower shape and flat bottom. Gondolas used to be shabby home-made boats in the past and now they are elegantly crafted for tourists. In the past gondolas were painted different colors but now by law must be painted black.

Venice has relied on Gondolas as a part of the city’s transportation from the beginning of its settlement. The city’s fabric of canals intertwines the city together. The natural marsh lands beyond the city center echo the geographic state of the past. The seconds major transportation method beyond the Gondola is foot traffic. Walking from the North part of the is- land to the South part takes around 45 minutes. Venice’s transportation system is unique in that it does not have vehicle traffic on the island. The land bridge Via della Liberta connects the island to the mainland with vehicle and train traffic but there is a parking garage once you get to the island itself where you must park your car. Other than the Gondolas and pedestrian traffic, there is a tram called the people mover that brings people from the entrance point on the island.


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