Venice has been one of the world’s most beloved tourist attractions for decades. Raking in millions of visitors each year, it should be no surprise that there are tons of online guides to the city written by people who have treaded the city’s streets in the past. Somewhere along the way, rumors started to float around that Venice has a striking odor that might bother some. However, does Venice smell? If so, is it bad?
Let’s put the rumors to rest straight away: Venice does NOT smell bad everywhere all the time. The notion that Venice flat-out stinks are no more than a myth, so you can leave your nose clips at home. However, like most cities, there are certain areas and conditions that may produce an unpleasant smell from time to time. Read more to find out!
Does Venice smell bad?
Some sources report an occasional bad smell in the summer months. This is due to a couple of factors. Firstly, garbage left out in the summer heat rots faster than any other time of the year. Naturally, this will make some areas a little smelly, but take a stroll around New York, Paris, or Singapore on a hot day, and you’ll encounter the same stench! Visitors in the other seasons, on the other hand, agreed that this problem didn’t affect them.
The next factor is a more uniquely Venetian problem. It’s better to say that it USED to be a problem. Occasional algae buildups in the Venice lagoon caused a bad smell. Still, in the early 2000s, the city’s canal system underwent renovations and now has a modern system of draining and cleaning canals.
From time to time, city workers dredge the canals. This means that they clean them by removing all of the sediment that builds up on the canal floors.
These can also produce a pungent odor, but it’s always limited to the area where work is going on. A few meters of canal work won’t stink up the whole town. These canals need to be dredged because some of the water in them becomes stagnant.
This is what leads to the buildup of sediment and algae in the first place. It’s better to clear them from time to time than let them get stinkier!
Occasional flooding also creates problems. The rising water washes up sewage and trash, which can offend the nose. However, the city has a quick response to this, and it’s usually cleaned up before becoming a significant problem. All in all, a trip to Venice won’t be ruined by rotten smells. If you visit in the summer, you might encounter a few odors wafting your way. However, this is no different than any other city. Surely there are smellier cities out there.
What does Venice smell like?
Now that we know Venice isn’t as rotten-smelling as the rumors suggest, what are the city’s aromas that you can expect while walking around? One smell that’s sure to follow you around is salt water. Having been built on a lagoon, all of the city’s canals are salty, and you’ll rarely be out of sight of the water while there.
Perhaps people who don’t spend much time near the sea think that this is Venice’s “bad” smell when it’s quite normal in maritime communities.
Speaking of the sea, you’ll surely be hit with the strong smell of fresh seafood available all over the place! From the central Rialto fish market to little trattorias whipping up seafood dishes on every corner, Venice is a huge consumer of the stuff, and you’ll smell it everywhere.
Besides these, Venice smells much like what you’d expect from an Italian city. Walk down any street, and you’ll surely be stricken with the mouth-watering aroma of fresh bread or pizzas baking.
You’ll also encounter the familiar smell of tomatoes simmering in a pan with fresh herbs like rosemary or basil. In the mornings and late afternoon, you’ll smell the endless number of cafés pumping out espressos to their loyal customers.
Don’t let the slight possibility of a bad smell deter you from visiting The Floating City. There’s little chance of your trip being ruined by a little stink. As in the rest of the country, the incredible fragrances of Italian cuisine will overpower any bad ones!
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