Venice – the capital of decadence

Back in the 18th century, Venice became a synonym for the European decadence and splurge. The rich nobility used to waste their rich legacy on the lavish entertainment and gambling. Money was wasted on expensive wigs, jewels and clothes for costume balls and theatrical performances. The gambling fever gripped the city so much that the tables for board games were placed between the pillars of the Piazza San Marco. The state casinos, namely the notorious Ridotto, where the entrance was free for anyone who was wearing a mask, had to be closed in 1774 as many Venetians were suddenly broke.


However, the extravagance and decadence were associated with the city since its beginnings. In 1562 there was the so-called “law of controlling the luxury”, which provided that all the gondolas had to be black to prevent their decorating and therefore highlighting the wealth of the individuals.

Fashionable Venetians thronged to hear the latest compositions by the redheaded priest, Antonio Vivaldi, performed by the girls from the orphanage Ospedale della Piette. His most famous work – The Four Seasons, has now become the latest musical hit in Europe.

Venetian sense of humor and intrigues the best come to the surface during the festival, which precedes the lent. Masks and costumes then play a crucial role in the world of anonymity, which completely erases the boundaries of social classification. The tradition of the famous Venetian Carnival began in the 11th century, reaching its peak of popularity and wildness in the 18th century. During the festival, many of the restrictions were curtailed, including wearing expensive lace and women’s leisure behavior.


The period of somewhat modest life began with the arrival of the Austrian government in 1797 and lasted until 1866. Four years later, in 1970, the dream of all Italians was realized – a free and united Italy was created.

After unification, Venice was developing very fast. The opening of the Suez Canal was preceded by the construction of a large port from which all the rich Europeans started their journeys to the East, returning with the full crates of goods.


Swimming in the sea, as a mass phenomenon, did not exist in Europe at that time. It was launched at the Venetian Lido Di Jesolo, where parading in the latest attire was a matter of prestige and “survival” in the company. The introduction of the regular shipping lines from the city to Lido was a key prerequisite for building the most luxurious hotels in the world along the sandy shores of the Adriatic Sea. It was the trendiest and most stylish resort along the coast. Since then, the other beaches around the globe got their names after it. In 1907 the hotel Excelsior was built, becoming the largest hotel in the world. The shades that were placed on the beach in the 1920’s are still standing at the same place.

At that time, Venice became a center of art and architecture. The Biennale was hit off, now attracting tens of millions of tourists with the intention to keep the same pace. As long as this jewel city of Venice keeps winning its angry opponent – the Mediterranean Sea.

Ivana Mišković About Ivana Mišković
PhD student in Tourism. Teaching Assistat at the Faculty of Sport and Tourism. Author of a number of travel articles. Traveller. Explorer.

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