|Santa Maria della Salute|
|Inside the Doge's Palace|
It's fair to say that I knew next to nothing about Venice before this year. Somehow, the centuries that La Serenissima ruled the Mediterranean were skipped over in my Western Civilization course (perhaps not "Western" enough?). I didn't know of its artistic heritage. I had a vague sense of its importance in the Grand Tour and a suspicion of some nineteeenth-century fighting with Austria. Of course I knew of the canals and gondolas, but I didn't even know that Venice was a grouping of islands.
My experience was, then, the exact opposite of Henry James'. When I read the above opening paragraph to Italian Hours, I felt out of the loop. This feeling persisted in my other readings about Venice, especially the prose of the Ruskins. I decided that my goal in Venice would be to discover why people love it so.
I didn't succeed. Love isn't something rational that you can set out an argument for. Love creeps in on you, unawares. I arrived at Venice skeptical of its charms and seeing exactly what I had been prepared to see. I was unimpressed and distant. But leaving Venice was hard, and even though I'm back home, part of my spirit is still there. How did this happen?
Maybe it's all the water. Water is an incredible force, and Venice has managed to accommodate the demands of the sea. The gentle rocking of the boats, necessary for getting around town, also has a lulling effect on the psyche.
|The Grand Canal|
|The Grand Canal, early morning. |
Zoom in to see the art on the side of the building.
|Inside La Salute Church|
|The Doge's Palace|
Maybe it's that there's art everywhere. Even on the outside of buildings, where the elements gradually destroy everything. And yet no place better exemplifies the saying, Ars longa, vita brevis.
|Detail outside the Basilica|
|Inside the Basilica. Isn't that amazing?|
|Part of the altar inside the Basilica|
|Accademia Bridge and traffic on the Grand Canal|
The chemistry of this love is complex. All I really know is that I would like to go back, and this time bring my husband. Because Venice is a city of love.