by Jim Baumann
I had the opportunity of spending 4 days in that most unusual of cities Venice; a cosmopolitan town steeped in Maritime connections and history like many other ancient towns in europe with one major difference...Not a single means of wheeled transport, obviously no motorvehicles, but also no cycles, scooters or even skateboards.! Once away from the hubbub of the waterfront near the Grand-canal the town is strangely silent, punctuated by occasional loud discusssion in Italian, the muted throb of a powerful marine diesel at tickover, the creak of a Gondola oar propelling another load of sightseers overplayed by the lone cry of a seagull....
It is a city that is truly fascinatingly different in virtually every aspect of daily life, as EVERYTHING is brought, moved and conveyed by water. The (high speed!)water ambulances are Orange, Police launches Blue , Taxis are varnished wood and elegant, waterbuses a bit dented, funeral boats black....etc etc. There are even traffic lights on some of the canals, to attempt to avoid the congestion I happily witnessed as a refrigerated food supply boat gingerly passed in the opposite direction to two taxis, the refuse collection barge, a brace of Gondolas as well as two moored builders supply barges unloading into a pallazo undergoing restoration making a narrow waterway even narrower....
For the fancier of watercraft there is a huge variety of craft from Cruise ships to workboats, warships to rowboats.. so it seems fitting that the Maritime Museum was an excellent summary of all waterborne craft that had an association with Venice at various stages of its long history.
Housed on five floors of the 15th Century Granary the MUSEO
STORICO NAVALE is owned by the Italian navy and is set within
the Arsenal area, a five minute walk along the
waterfront from St Marks Square . If visiting please note that the Museum
closes for the day at 1pm.... something which escaped me as I raced
around the museum frantically shooting photos for MW having arrived at
11.30.... so some of the ships names and dates I missed with
There were many interesting exhibits where the quality of
my photograph was not good enough for the site, if anyone wants a
specific detail photo of a specific ship I may have a poorer image
which I would gladly e-mail upon request.
It being Venice I make no apologies for including some photos of gondola models and dioramas!
I reccomend anyone interested in shipping to visit the Museum (on the pretext of a romantic break in Venice...!!)
Venetian galley, oar powered warships due to the less windy conditions of the Adriatic developed highly here.