Erica Jong said Venice is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages, at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone. One is immediately enamored by the bright blue waters of the canal gently lapping against these grand palaces, their images a wavy reflection in the canal confirming their beauty and blurring their flaws. The picture painted by Erica’s words comes to life in front of you.
Venice is a place of contradictions; she is the quintessential embodiment of decaying grandeur, a grand old dame proud of her elegant finery, tattered as it may be. One is easily overwhelmed by the splendidly fading frescoes, mosaics, statuary and art everywhere. The moss creeping up the sides of the buildings and the many cracks and chips visible in the walls, untouched to retain the unique beauty wrought by the ravages of time and water, add to the sense of nostalgic charm.
Venice is a unique place created over time as barrier islands formed on a river delta . It evolved into a vehicle free wonderland of 100 islands laced together by 400 bridges and 2000 alleyways. Literally everything that comes in or out is via boats on the canals. The traffic on the Grand Canal is like a busy highway of boats moving to an elaborate water dance. In the middle ages Venice developed into a wealthy finance and commerce center and became a city of palaces. One can easily imagine a time of grand balls, of satins and velvets, and ornate masks. There is a mysterious and magical aura about Venice as though it was conjured out of the mists. She flaunts her overdressed beauty while keeping her secrets and scandals close.
Many people have said that Venice is nothing but a tourist trap, and the popular areas of St Mark’s Square and along the Grand Canal particularly are swarming with obnoxious tourists and their selfie sticks, tacky tourist souvenirs and pushy hawkers. It is, however, easy to get away from 80% of that foolishness simply by walking down any alleyway in the opposite direction from the crowds. That is where you will discover the real Venice, the Venice of peaceful piazzas and beautiful bridges over quiet canals, where mothers push baby carriages and clothes hang from the lines out apartment windows.
Venice is a place of contradictory wonders around every corner. She is a city full of art ranging from classic and traditional, to ornate baroque, to quirky, modern and abstract – all often displayed together for a very dramatic effect. It is a city made for wandering and getting lost. When you lift your face you see Venice is a truly unique place in the world.
Part of the allure of Venice is that her very existence is threatened. She is slowly sinking. She is currently experiencing the worst flooding in 50 years and that is only going to get worse. Nonetheless, Venice will persevere, she will retain a pull that will continue to draw people toward her, to gaze upon her aging elegance and beauty, and to wonder about her many secrets and mysteries.
Venice is a place of contradictions. She is at once lively and ghostly, modern and ancient, ornate and simple,solid and liquid, air and stone. I lift my face in gratitude for having seen Venice, for experiencing the melancholic romance and regal beauty of this mystical city. I lift my face to the lessons of Venice, to be a traveler, not a tourist ( Love you AB), to persevere through it all, and to always put on your lipstick!
Lift your face,