Sunday, 8 April 2012

Venice – the ethereal city

It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.
Erica Jong      
                                                                                                                                                        

My first view of Venice had been through the grey haze of a damp day as islands shimmered like mirages in a weakening sunlight and we bumped our way across the lagoon. Lido had unravelled before me, before the boat slipped into the Grand Canal and reached Venice’s shores. With rain an intermittent companion I had spent time in the beautiful, elegant, ostentatious and inspiring churches, palazzos and galleries of a city that boasts wonderful architecture and works of art. When I had left Venice that first time, with rain drumming incessantly on the hood of my jacket, I had moved along the canal to the train station with the once magnificent palaces watching my progress from behind shuttered eyes.

I arrived in Venice this time by train, passed over the water as men in boats sped or paddled their way from island to island. The sky was a vibrant blue and the sun warmed the stones. I was to enjoy the labyrinthine charms of this ethereal city bathed in bright light. Herman Melville had said he would rather be ‘in Venice on a rainy day than in any other capital on a fine one,’ and inclement weather has its advantages to enjoying this city, lending an air of mysteriousness as you wind through it narrow streets, but the sun too has its benefits. It offers a contrast of light and shade as you move out of its brilliance into lanes so narrow people struggle to pass each other comfortably. Sunlight dapples the waters of the smaller canals.
One of the smaller waterways














We wandered the streets of Venice through every single area of this wondrous city. We captured the essence of a city brimming with history from the walls of its buildings, the bridges and the interior of its smaller churches. It is romantic either in that soul-searching way or as you walk, holding hands along an empty lane and steal a kiss on a tiny bridge.  Crumbling palazzos sink into the water whilst others stand proud at the waterfront boasting their imperial heritage. Through the Porta della Carta of the Palazzo Ducale we could see the ceremonial staircase guarded by the giant statues of Neptune and Mars. We sat near the Palazzo, on the steps of a waterway to eat our lunch, watching the sleek, black elegance of the gondolas as they pushed their way out into the Grand Canal and the more proletarian water-taxis that darted about dropping off their passengers in a rush to obtain more.
Gondola ride


















Venice is a beautiful city that deserves time to be taken on it. Time to wander its unsung, narrow winding streets and lanes as well as visit and admire the magnificence of Saint Mark’s and the Palazzo Ducale, the art of the Galleria dell’Accademia, the view from the Rialto bridge or sup a Bellini in Harry’s Bar. Venice is a conundrum of a city floating in a lagoon of dreams. It deserves your attention.
The Grand Canal towards S.M. della Salute

The Bridge of Sighs
                

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