>>>There is more than one Venice
Photo: Littleaom/ Shutterstock

There is more than one Venice

We all love Venice so much that every country wants to have one. China, Holland and Mexico all have their own city of canals.
W
e have to impose a maximum number of visitors on Venice.” Luca Zaia, president of the Veneto region warned last July. UNESCO did not mince its words either: the authorities have until 1 February 2017 to resolve the excessive tourism and traffic on the canals. If not, Venice will be included on the List of World Heritage in Danger. An ultimatum that could empty the Venetian streets of tourists, to protect its inimitable beauty.
Other options near Bangkok are the Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets, which are more touristy than Taling Chan.
Photo: nimon / Shutterstock.com

Other merchants of Venice

In Thailand, canals are called khlongs. They are the reason why Bangkok is known as the Venice of the East. On Khlong Chak Phra, the floating market of Taling Chan is set up every weekend. It is one of the most traditional in the area, with stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to souvenirs, all on board a boat.

Inimitable yes, but fans have nothing to worry about. There is more than one Venice, and asking for someone’s hand in marriage on a gondola on the Grand Canal can be just as romantic on Groenerei canal, Bruges. The Italian city on the water has competition from all over the world, from exotic Kerala to neighbouring Burano. If they do start controlling tourism to Venetian monuments, it could be the perfect opportunity to visit their stunt doubles.
Any city surrounded by water can become ‘the Venice of [insert geographical location of the city in question]’, but, to be considered a truly romantic destination, far more is required. Bridges, for instance. Bruges, one of the Venices of the North, has 43. In fact, brug is bridge in Flemish. The oldest is Meebrug, which dates from the 15th century, making it 100 years older than the Rialto, the most famous of the bridges over the Venetian Grand Canal.
Palais de l’Isle occupies the most photographed corner in Annecy. A former prison, today it is the city’s history museum.
Photo: Mny-Jhee/ Shutterstock
Giethoorn, the Netherlands, with its fairytale cottages and wooden bridges, is also a strong candidate for the prime northern Venice. As is Saint Petersburg, which was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in the 18th century, with his eyes firmly set on the city of canals. Its big difference from its Italian counterpart is that, during the cold Russian winter, the water freezes and the city is transformed into an iced Venice.
Zhouzhuang is about 85km from Shanghai
Photo: Paul J Martin / Shutterstock.com
All the Venices adapt the dolce Italian charm to their own cultures. Indeed, in Suzhou and Zhouzhuang, the Chinese Venices, the canals are decorated with red lanterns; while in Xochimilco, Mexico City, the boats that cleave the waters are painted in loud colours and Mexican motifs. They are called trajineras and a trip in one is normally accompanied by a mariachi band. In Aveiro, the Portuguese Venice, the decoration on the boats includes erotic cartoons and portraits of the national hero, Cristiano Ronaldo. You can also explore the banks of its canals on one of the free bikes (BUGA), provided by the local council.
Venetian influence has crossed the Alps to settle in Annecy, France. The water in Thiou canal, which runs through most of the old centre, comes from Lake Annecy, one of the cleanest in the world. The most romantic place in Alpine Venice is Pont des Amours. Legend says couples who kiss there will stay together forever. Perhaps Venetian hero Casanova took advantage of this during his journeys to France, to swear eternal love to his conquests. If he did, he would surely have felt at home.

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