Visions of Venice

 “La Serenissima” never fails to captivate

VeniceCoatofArmsThis was my fourth visit to Venice — the first in too many years. It is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, and as such, attracts unbelievable crowds. Unless you go out very early, stay out very late or get off the well-traveled paths, the hordes are unbelievable. At one point, I tried to count the number of guides’ flags and furled umbrellas within my line of sight, but I couldn’t.

Fortunately and serendipitously, my husband and I arrived for a short stay in the wee hours of the morning, long before our small hotel was unlocked. We hung around the Rialto, watching a woman sell beer to teenagers through the security gate of a café. When we were able to leave our stuff at the hotel and stroll to St. Mark’s Square at daybreak. We visited some of the main attractions, including hyper-touristy Murano and Burano, but I tried hard to focus on the details — the close-up charmers that make Venice so captivating, crowds or not. Here’s a random selection of very personal images of people, places and things that caught my eye:

Streetlight near the Doges' Palace at daybreak.
Streetlight near the Doges’ Palace at daybreak.
Painter capturing the Bridge of Sighs before the touristic hordes arrive.
Painter capturing the Bridge of Sighs before the touristic hordes arrive.
Misty morning view of San Giorgio Maggiore.from across the Guidecca Canal from St/.Mark's.
Misty morning view of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed in the 16th century by Augusto Palladio. It sits on a small island across the Guidecca Canal from St. Mark’s.

 

The beautiful clock face on the well-name Torre dell'Orlogio. It shows the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon in addition to the time.
The beautiful clock face on the well-name Torre dell’Orlogio on the north side of the Piazza San Marco shows the signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon in addition to the time.
Typical group scene on Piazza San Marco, which I keep referring to as St. Mark's.
Typical group scene on Piazza San Marco (aka, St. Mark’s Square). The crowds are overwhelming and the line to enter the Basilica daunting — but worth the wait.

 

Three gondoliers, waiting on a small wooden bridge for their first customers to show up.
Three gondoliers, waiting on a small wooden bridge for their first customers to show up.
One of the many small canals that lace is islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
One of the many small canals that lace is islands in the Venetian Lagoon.
A flower-bedecked arch at one of a couple of universities in the city.
A flower-bedecked arch at one of a couple of universities in the city.
Souvenir stands all over the city sell knock-offs of the Carnivale masks that make this pre-Lenten festival one of the world's most dramatic.
Souvenir stands all over the city sell knock-offs of the Carnivale masks that make this pre-Lenten festival one of the world’s most dramatic.
As the glass-maker's island in the Lagoon, Murano is dotted with glass street art. this fanciful sculpture is not far from Il Faro, the island's landmark lighthouse.
As the glass-maker’s island in the Lagoon, Murano is dotted with glass street art. This fanciful flower sculpture is not far from Il Faro, the island’s landmark lighthouse. There resemblances to the work of American art glass meister Dale Chihuly, who in fact created a “Venetian Series” to honor the commonality.

 

Murano's ancient (started in the 12th century) Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato is known for its elegant colonnade and beautiful mosaic floor.
Murano’s Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato, begun in the 12th century, is known for its elegant colonnade and beautiful mosaic floor.

 

The island of Burano is know for lace -making and for brightly painted buildings.
The island of Burano is know for lace -making and for brightly painted buildings.
Lovely architectural details like this Moorish-influenced window are all over Venice.
Lovely architectural details like this Moorish-influenced window are all over Venice.
One of many palazzo along the Grand Canal.
One of many palazzi along the Grand Canal.
Venice clings to its past but is also very much engaged in present events. This palazzo hosts cultural exhibitions.
Venice clings to its past but is also very much engaged in present events. This palazzo hosts cultural exhibitions.

 

The Rialto in the wee hours of the morning. This iconic stone bridge was completed in 1591, replacing earlier wooden bridges. It was the only bridge across the Grand Canal until 1854. Centuries of gondolier job security, when these craft were true transportation -- not a tourist attraction.
The Rialto in the wee hours of the morning. This iconic stone bridge was completed in 1591, replacing earlier wooden bridges. It was the only bridge across the Grand Canal until 1854. Centuries of gondolier job security, when these craft were true transportation — not a tourist attraction.
Late autumn and early winter rains and high tides cause flooding in the Lagoon almost every year. Add to that rising sea levels and cruise ships sailing right up to Venice's doorstep, and you have a highly threatened city. In addition to world water engineers trying to keep the Lagoon waters at bay, New York-based Save Venice Inc. supports stabilization and restoration projects.
Late autumn and early winter rains and high tides cause flooding in the Lagoon almost every year. Add to that rising sea levels and cruise ships sailing right up to Venice’s doorstep, and you have a highly threatened city. In addition to world water engineers trying to keep the Lagoon waters at bay, New York-based Save Venice Inc. supports stabilization and restoration projects in this magnificent city that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

3 thoughts on “Visions of Venice”

  1. Very evocative Claire. I recall on my first visit we wandered around some of the quieter parts where ordinary Venetians lived and stumbled upon a wedding party. What fun. A trip to the local fish and fruit market was also a joy.
    M

  2. I’ve not been to Venice, but visited Finale Ligure, Italy many times to rock climb. My son, at 12, said, “Finale is my favorite place in the World.” Now,a t 22, I asked where in Europe he’d like to go, and he replied, “Finale, and Norway.”

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