Sunday, July 27, 2008

Venice

I went to Venice for the day when we were in Verona, since it was so close by. Despite the horrific summer crowds, I quite see what all the fuss is about. It is a marvellous city, with its thoroughfares of water and its narrow medieval back streets. I hadn't really thought about the complete absence of motorized vehicles; supplies for restaurants and markets are brought in by boat and trundled through the streets on handcarts. As a result, the medieval streets have never needed to be widened, and the city remains, in scale and atmosphere, a walker's city.

canals2

One is struck with a sense of amazement, not that it was built in the first place, but that it somehow remains standing despite the ravages of time and water. Signs of rebuilding and alteration are everywhere, as above, where a Renaissance arcade has been filled in with brick and square windows let into the resulting wall.

I took the above picture from the bus, which is of course a boat. The best part is that I saw boxy yellow barges at the edges of the canals, with the numbers of bus lines on them; I thought these were the buses, but in fact they are the bus stations, where you wait for the bus itself (not a barge, but an oversized motor launch).

Venice's historical connections with Byzantium are immediately visible in the city: not only in the mosaic interior of San Marco, but in its treasury and here and there in other details of the city, like this Madonna and child shrine on the stucco facade of a minor palazzo.

madonna

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