If you are like me you have always wondered what possessed the original people to start trying to live in Venice. Why would someone try to build on water instead of land ? It truly is a beautiful place, but the amount of work involved in setting it up there versus a bit more inland is truly immense.
The answer is Atilla the Hun. In his, I believe second, march through Italy doing his usual pillaging, there were some Italians who fled into the marshes in and around what became Venice.
Another fascinating tidbit of Atilla’s march through Italy is when, in AD 452, Leo the Great, Bishop of Rome, met him outside the city walls and persuaded him not to sack Rome. Apparently the previous man to invade Rome died soon after of an illness. Atilla being superstitious, having met with the Bishop of Rome, and according to some accounts believing he had seen a supernatural being with a sword during the meeting, decided to leave Rome alone and retreat. Thus Rome was miraculously saved from Atilla. Of course about three years after that it was vandalized by the Vandals. But that is a story for another day.