How many times did you hear that St. Petersburg is Russian Venice? At least I noticed such a statement in dozen articles. But after living a year in St. Pete I realized how different it is from Italian city. North beats South, or 10 differences between Venice and so-called Venice:
1) When I moved to Russian cultural capital it was late October. Snow and cold came just after few weeks. So all the canals and rivers turned in ice. You definitely can’t walk on Venice’s canals, as they are never freeze.
2) December in Saint-Petersburg looks exactly like a stereotype about Russia: everything white, -20 C and dark. Only bears are missing. Where can you see in Venice how in such a cold some people take their cloth off and get a suntan near the warm stone walls of Petropavlovskaya fortress?
3) In January you normally forget about too long night in St. Pete due to unbelievable amount of Christmas lights everywhere. Actually, not only in January. The government do their best to provide shiny look of the center. In Venice…hm, I’ve never been there in January, but in comparison with St. Petersburg’s limelight, Venice is modest and shy. Must be northern light beats.
4) What surprised me the most in St. Pete is the passion for theaters and concerts. During winter evenings I preferred to stay home, but my boyfriend often invited me to a cultural life. And every time the halls of every new place was totally occupied! In a week day! They have around 100 theaters in Petersburg and about 5 in Venice. Not comparable, especially if Venice is more into cinema.
5) Both cities are art oriented: Venice is famous for its painters and writers, St. Pete – for musicians. But in Italian town they created light and renaissance looking works, in North city they gave a birth for Russian hard and modern rock. Funny note: Venice created paintings, but St. Petersburg collected it in Hermitage.
6) No matter what time of the year is in St. Petersburg, locals adore to read: in cafes, bookstores, parks, gardens etc. Such a passion turned into a numerous books oriented cafes, where everyone can spend a day reading and drinking tea. In Venice I notices that locals in public places prefer to talk: to friends on telephone, to waitress, to neighbors, to strangers.
8) Bridges must be the main reason why they compared both cities. You need at least 350 days for counting all the bridges in Peterburg, one per day. And about 400 days for Venice. But what you can’t find in Venice, is drawbridge. Tourist flock gather on the banks of Neva river to see how the metal constructions drawn and disconnect central part of the town from other regions for few hours. And how at the same time the line of liners and bulkers are passing by.
9) The main event in Venice is no doubt its legendary Carnival. You can’t see anything, but masks and bright costumes. In St. Pete the most popular holiday is Scarlet Sails, dedicated to graduates. During the longest white night everyone trying to spot Neva river, where a ship show is taken place together with fireworks. In South city you can also wear mask and be a part of the show, in North city you can be a part of the event as a viewer. As it is just impossible to do anything, but watch.
10) Romantic atmosphere. I would say this is rather a similarity than a difference. When I come to Venice I get this strange childish and playful mood, like a teenager. And I want to continue this fun for one more day. But St. Peterburg makes me romantic in adult way: I know for sure what I like and adore and why I want to stay here for one more year.