Saturday, August 2, 2014

№ 184. Venice Through Square Lenses (2)

2 August 2014

Pictures for now, coherent narrative to follow. But in my defense, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is worth at least about 5,000, then.


5 August 2014

Ok, here are the random, arguably, still incoherent narratives to go with the photos.

If there's one thing near omnipresent in Venice, it is the sea. The air is redolent with the faint, cool smell of salt. The briny scent accents the insular feel of the mazes of canals, alleys, dead ends, pocket parks, Churches, courtyards, private gardens and quays. To be sure, Venice's maritime roots and history are expressed indelibly in its surrounding moats and waters. Perhaps because of the city's affinity with the Adriatic, its people also draw near the shores and congregate just about anywhere near the sea--- where the view is unfailing and grand.

If one tires of the crowds, as I often did, it's not difficult to lose them. Go away from the shores and head inland, into the sanctuary of the old structures. One really need only to stray from the tourist vortices by the sea such as the Rialto, St. Mark's Square, the grand passage facing the Lido on the San Marco's south side and the sidewalks along the Grand Canal.

There are more than enough unexplored and often deserted alleys and Churches that offer quiet breaks from the horde.

Or, one can kill time at the museums by watching the Renaissance masters and craftsmen, by gauging the passersby at the cafes or by finding ancient manuscripts at the Marciano Library. Wait until dusk, then the madness surely thins considerably. After nine in the evening, there isn't a lot of them left.

Venice looks supremely ancient under the cloak of darkness. The dance of light, shadows and the reflections from the waters are potent actors in a stage. They evoke a theatrical display of a city that thrives in the present and yet belongs tenaciously to a gilded age of the past.

Most alleys are lighted from the lamp posts, windows of open bars and late night restaurants, so walking about at ungoldy hours shouldn't be a concern. These illuminations make the city glow and assume an almost sinister and somehow brooding atmosphere.

Gondolas waiting to be engaged, at 6 AM, Venice, May 2014

The fresh produce market is actually small. It looked almost staged solely for the tourists who pass by this main street from Mestre, crossing through the exquisite and very modern Calatrava bridge. This main thoroughfare somewhat runs parallel to the busy Grand Canal. It offers more elbow rooms since the ones along the canal teem with hawkers and their preys. This street also houses the only McDonald's in Venice.

The Calatrava Bridge stands out even against a surfeit of vistas because it is modern and, thus, charmingly incongruous in the ancient city. The design, I think, is influenced by Art Deco. It has a Jetson-eque glass-enclosed capsule which serves as small cable car for the disabled.

However, I had not seen anyone actually use it to cross the bridge. I was sorely tempted to press the buzzer and try it. But I couldn't cook up or feign some disability.

Many wooden bridges in Europe, especially the one in Paris,
suffer from barnacles of padlocks placed by tourists.
Venice at night is more magical and ethereal than it's daytime twin persona. With far fewer tourists loitering about or haggling for the Italian-designed-but-Chinese manufactured souvenir or this authentic pasta vouched by online votes or that artisanal gelato, walks are more leisurely and unhindered.

The last photo taken on the last day in Venice,
on the way back to the hotel. A gem of a scene.

I captured the mime posing for the pedestrians and hoping for some coin drops, on my last day, after a very hurried visit to the Gallerie dell Accademia. One and a half hours.

I already had my fill of Veronese, Tintoretto and Titian at the Doge's Palace. But the Academia's massive The Feast in the House of Levi by Paolo Veronese stole the highlight for that final day. I did not get to see Da Vinci's Vetruvian Man, though. Oh well, next time.

The Bridge of Sighs is a tight and stuffy link from the Halls of Justice
of the Doge's Palace, where trials and convictions are rendered,
to the other side of the canal, which houses
the prison cells and the dungeons.

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