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Wood Use Around the World – Venice, Italy 

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Venice is known as ‘the floating city.’ It exists in the middle of a lagoon of water, reeds, and marshland. So how does this great city stay afloat? It’s built on wood! Here’s the second of our ‘wood use around the world’ series. 

A Quick Venetian History Lesson

So why would people want to move to a place that was in the middle of a lagoon? Well in the 5th century A.D., barbarian conquerors were wreaking havoc on Italy. People were afraid for their lives and fled to the area and hid in the marshland with the resident fishermen. More and more people fled to the region than in 421 A.D., a city sprung up.

A City Built on Wood

You can’t talk about wood use around the world without talking about a city that was literally built on it! Yes, it’s true. When the fleeing people settled on the marshlands, they realised they needed to lay down some strong foundations to build on.

They dug a vast network of canals and reinforced the banks with wood pilings. They also used wood pilings to create solid foundations for their homes. The beauty of using wood is that because it was underwater where there was no oxygen, it didn’t rot.

Over time, sand and pebbles settled around the wood so it became a natural bedrock and a firm base for constructing homes, bridges, and more.

It’s amazing to think that a city like Venice rests on piles of wood that are 1600 years old!

Wood Use Around the World – Timber in Venetian Construction

As well as being the actual foundations of the city, wood was widely used inside the homes, palaces, and churches of Venice. It was the main material used in ceilings, floors, walls, and trusses.

Wood in Boats

As you would imagine, a ‘floating city’ needs boats and plenty of them, from boats for getting around to ships delivering cargo. Vast amounts of wood were needed to build the boats themselves as well as their masts and oars.

Then there are the gondolas, the boats that are incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike. Did you know that it takes eight different types of wood to make a traditional gondola?  Different parts of the boat are made from fir, oak, cherry, elm, maple, linden, walnut, and mahogany. The body of the gondola is fir or oak.

Wood Use Around the World: How Wood Guides You Around Venice

If you visit Venice, you might notice random groups of wooden posts sticking out of the water. These are ‘bricole’ and mark deep waterways so boats can navigate and not get stuck in shallow water. 

We all know that wood is an important and valuable resource. But it’s amazing to think that a great Italian city like Venice would probably not exist without it. We hoped you’ve enjoyed this article looking at wood use around the world. Watch out for the next one in the series or read this one on wood use in France. In the meantime, for more interesting articles on wood and timber products, check out the rest of our blog.

This entry was posted in Guides and tagged Wood Use Around The World

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