Take a Virtual Tour of Venice (Its Streets, Plazas & Canals) with Google Street View

There’s some­thing inher­ent­ly ridicu­lous about Google’s Street View cars.

Their roof-mount­ed 15-lens Trekker cam­eras con­stant­ly blun­der across less-than-dig­ni­fied scenes whilst trawl­ing the roads on behalf of Google Maps (a ser­vice that is for­ev­er linked in my mind to Lazy Sun­day, the pre­pos­ter­ous rap video star­ring come­di­ans Andy Sam­berg and Chris Par­nell.)

The cars them­selves are total­ly goofy-look­ing. I would imag­ine that spot­ting one in real life is some­thing akin to a Wein­er­mo­bile sight­ing. No won­der the pro­duc­ers of Arrest­ed Devel­op­ment arranged for George Michael Bluth, the hap­less inno­cent played by Michael Cera, to dri­ve one in the series’ fourth sea­son.


I have a hunch that the Street View Trekker’s back­pack mod­el will ulti­mate­ly prove less mock­able than its four-wheeled coun­ter­part. It can go where cars can’t, con­fer­ring an extreme sports vibe despite the big, ball-shaped cam­era appa­ra­tus stick­ing up. A lim­it­ed pilot pro­gram has been recruit­ing vol­un­teers to wear the back­pack in such locales as Bul­gar­ia, Indone­sia, and South Africa. The Philip­pines is anoth­er des­ti­na­tion where vol­un­teers are sought, and all kid­ding aside, it would be riv­et­ing to see how this tech­nol­o­gy might doc­u­ment the dev­as­ta­tion in Tacloban.

For now, the non-auto­mo­tive Street View’s great­est tri­umph lies in record­ing the canals and cob­bled walk­ways of Venice, Italy, a feat impos­si­ble to pull off in a car. To accom­plish this, a team of back­pack­ers logged over 375 miles on foot and by boat. Their efforts pro­vide tourists with prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion in a for­mat to which they’ve no doubt grown accus­tomed, as well as pre­sent­ing arm­chair trav­el­ers with plen­ty of non-dis­ap­point­ing eye can­dy.

Cyber vis­i­tors can choose to tra­verse the Float­ing City much as actu­al vis­i­tors can — on foot, by vaporet­ta or by gon­do­la. (I’d advise mak­ing a trip to the bath­room even if you’re not actu­al­ly leav­ing home. At the very least turn the sound down — the pad­dling nois­es accom­pa­ny­ing the last option could cause a Pavlov­ian blad­der response.)

In addi­tion to the Street View and stan­dard map, you can explore using a sepia-toned map from the David Rum­sey His­tor­i­cal Map Col­lec­tion, that dates back to 1838.

A love­ly escape, all in all. Let us hope it nev­er opens to traf­fic.

You can start your tour here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How Venice Works: A Short Film

Google Street View Opens Up a Look at Shackleton’s Antarc­tic

A Vir­tu­al Tour of the Sis­tine Chapel

Google Street View Takes You on a Panoram­ic Tour of the Grand Canyon

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late, The Zinesters Guide to NYC and sev­er­al oth­er books. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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