As an easy start to this year, I'd like to share some inspirations I've brought home from my short vacation to Venice. It was my first time visiting Venice and I truly underestimated the beauty of this Italian pearl on the Adriatic Sea. Its beauty is not only found in the astonishing architecture and the tremendous cultural heritage sites conserved all over town, i. e. San Marco's Cathedral, the Doges Palace, the many museums and seemingly every second house with it's own Wikipedia article, but also in something else...
The beauty I was mostly impressed by came from the way urban planning influenced mobility and transportation. Obviously a lagoon (118 little islands) is a very unique location for a city to be located on. Still some of the aspects that come with limited space can be found in landlocked cities as well.
A small time-lapse showing the bay in front of San Marco's Piazzale
Basically, the area on the lagoon has been fully settled for over 500 years. Luckily no significant demolition has happened since then, which means that many old buildings and particularly, the old city structures, have survived intact. Unlike many landlocked cities Venice didn't have to live through the phase of car-friendly city planning, simply because there was no way to get cars there. The Ponte della Liberta was finished 1933, but this only allowed cars to reach the Piazzale Roma, from where everything else can only be reached by foot or boat.
The only individual mobility option is walking. This is probably the most beautiful thing that could happen to Venice. Hundreds of bridges with stairs and narrow alleys, thus no bikes and of course no roads, thus no cars. A great addition to the pedestrian friendly environment are the Vaporetti Boats (public bus-boats periodically cruising along the Canale Grande) which expanded my walking range up to the point of not needing anything else to maneuver through Venice, other than my own two feet.
Obviously, this compact city structure is something not exclusively found in Venice. Many cities around the world have areas that were built without the influence of automated individual mobility. In these parts, we as humans are the scale around the city, with its infrastructure and services, was originally designed. Admittedly, there also is a motorised mobility system in Venice: Vaporetti (Water Buses) and Water Taxis enable motorised public transport. Still, the lack of a motorised individual transit method is the fact that reveals the beauty of the urban design principles pointed out above.
PS: Best part about it: moovel also guides you through a complex of Vaporetti routes and narrow alleyways )