Of the places we would like to go back to in Europe, Venice always comes on top of the list. Rising from the misty lagoon in a riot of color, form and texture, the shimmering reflections of its waterways embody the essence of beauty.
It’s a timeless place, a floating city steeped in a magical atmosphere of a hundreds upon hundreds of years. At each corner of the winding alleys, at yet another turn of a narrow canal, you expect to run into Marco Polo, just back from the Orient with the latest in silks and spices.
Decadence of the passing time
The city is drenched in the rich tapestry of colors: from the luscious grime that eats at its stones, the muddy Adriatic that floods its pavements, the crumbling bricks of sinking palazzos—to the crystal blue of Murano glass, the dramatic black of the gondolas, and purple and pink of the Venetian masks.
The Republic of Venice, lasting nearly a millennium, spawned a bewildering variety of fine architecture and art. Ornate palaces line the Grand Canal, countless churches dot the labyrinth of waterways and paintings, frescos, sculptures, mosaics, gold, gems adorn the façades and museums.
Find Venice in wandering
Exploring Venice means losing oneself in the countless passages, streets and stairs, in the hundreds of gracefully arched marble bridges and the dead-end alleys. After all, “getting lost is the only place worth going to.” (Tiziano Scarpa).
Grand Canal to St Mark Square
Most of the palaces emerge from water without pavement, so only by sailing one can contemplate the peaceful sequence of façades illuminated by water reflections. The Grand Canal is the main water corridor. Inexpensive public transport is provided by Vaporetto, the water buses. Water taxis can be of course hired and a ride in one of the ubiquitous gondolas must be tried by everyone, even if only one time.
Best approached from the waterside, St. Mark’s Square was designed as the opulent testament to the wealth and power of the Venetian Republic. Its sight for centuries arrested travelers and artists.
Enchanted by the beauty of Venice, Welsh poet Arthur Symons observed: “a realist, in Venice, would become a romantic, by mere faithfulness to what he saw before him.”
Saying good bye
Decaying and flood-prone, abandoned by local population and overcrowded by tourists, Venice still keeps the crown of one of the world’s most beautiful cities—in the eerie beauty of the Doge’s Palace, the lights from boats in the lagoon at night, its palazzos, campanile, walls, and delicate arches slowly falling into ruin.
The last thought of Venice may well be that of contemplating the slow fading out of Venice’s silhouette into the mist—upon which one can be excused to doubt whether this magical place of neither land nor water is actually real.
Photos by Laskowski & Zadros, © TravelPlusStyle.com