Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Venice (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

By Ken Gord:

You don’t question the things you see every day in your home town or city, precisely because of the fact you see them every day. They’ve become “normal.” But let’s remember what Sherlock Holmes once famously told Dr. Watson:

“You see, but you do not observe.”

Here in Venice, after many weeks, I have become like Watson. I have seen the lions. I have seen the gondole. I have seen the “WC” signs. But I have not observed them.

Until now.

Why don't they refrigerate their eggs?

In North America, we keep eggs in the fridge. Supermarkets store eggs in the fridge. Here in Venice, eggs sit on shelves, unrefrigerated.

So, who’s right?

According to the Egg Safety Center in the United States, the law says that producers must sanitize eggs before they reach the consumer as the best way to fight Salmonella contamination. The washing process removes contaminants but also removes the natural coating of the egg, the cuticle, leaving the shell porous and thus vulnerable to bacteria. In Europe,eggs do not require extensive washing, which leaves the cuticle intact, which makes them safe to be sold and stored at room temperature. Fascinating, right? Something I always wanted to know (but was afraid to ask)!

Another thing about eggs: In North American supermarkets, eggs occupy a football field of shelf space. Here in Venice, you have to send out a search party to find them—Oh, there they are! On the bottom shelf! Behind the pillar! (Literally) Why? Most North Americans eat eggs every morning for breakfast. Italians don’t. (They eat pastry.)

What's with all the winged lions?

Do you know which symbol represents the nation of Austria? If you answered “double-headed eagle,” give yourself a gold star. So, one day, the Austrian ambassador, remarking on the symbol of Venice and being slightly condescending toward his Venetian host, asked him, “In what part of the world can one find winged lions?” The Venetian replied with a smirk, “In the same country you find double-headed eagles.” But why are there so many winged lions in Venice? They’re everywhere, from large statues to little door-knockers.

Answer: Back in 1260, the winged lion began to represent St. Mark, the evangelist and patron saint of Venice. Then the lion became a political image to represent the power, majesty, and freedom of Venice. Sometimes the lion holds a book, sometimes a sword, depending on whether Venice was at peace or at war.

Did I make a mistake?