I have all failed you miserably and, once again, I am begging for your forgiveness!
As you might have noticed (or not?), I wasn’t able to keep up my end of the blogging bargain last week and I didn’t manage to publish a new post. Shame on me, really, for causing you such distress. (‘Go directly to stats jail, Yannick’, a little voice whispered rather harshly into my ear, ‘and do neither pass any social media platforms nor collect any new followers!’) As I was preparing for an interview* as well as researching my upcoming Art Deco Walk, life got a little bit in the way and there just wasn’t enough time … sorry!
Today we are going to travel to my beloved Venice – it can’t be grand staircases all the time – and I’d like to invite you, dear readers, to come explore La Serenissima with me.
The city of Venice, or Venezia in its native language, needs no formal introductions anymore, I’m sure, and each one of us has their own notions about the mythical City of Bridges, one of the many monikers the legendary Queen of the Adriatic goes by. Although I’m unable to remember the original impulse, I’ve always dreamed of visiting Venice and sample its many delights. (I reluctantly concede that reading Thomas Mann’s (in)famous novella ‘Death in Venice’ during my final year of secondary school might have potentially fueled my serious infatuation or – dare I say it? – obsession with Venice.)
After years of Venetian deprivation, I was finally able to find my way to the City of Bridges last March. @FranPickering, my blogging sensei and life coach, gently pushed me into the right direction when, in her infinite wisdom, she recommended I should look up VisitVenice, an brilliant apartment rental company run by a former colleague of hers. Before I knew it, a trip to Bella Italia was booked and I found a homebase in Venice’s Cannaregio district – the north-western part of the city where one can also find the world’s first Ghetto.
As you can imagine, I had very high expectations of Venice and, surprisingly, they were all exceeded. Very much like the City of Lights (confused already?), La Serenissima is a courtesan and it is impossible to resist her many affectations and charms. Indifference is just not an option – hatred or disdain are acceptable as they are, at least, strong signs of emotions – and from the very first day onwards I was smitten.
After a frustratingly slow boat ride from Marco Polo Airport to the Grand Canal, I hopped off at the Rialto Bridge – I had unfortunately already missed my slot for a pre-booked tour of the Torre dell’Orologio – and decided to go with the flow. (In retrospect, a very Venetian attitude, I’d say.) As the queue was quasi non-existent, I decided going up the Campanile in Piazza San Marco would make for a great starting point to my adventures and help me to better understand the ‘fish-like’ geography of Venice. And it certainly did!
At the top of the bell tower I was met with the most spectacular 360 degree views over the Floating City and its famous lagoon. From the Lido to the islands of Giudecca and San Michele (in the background), all of Venice is laid out at your feet, very much like a three-dimensional tapestry or carpet that has come to life. Speak of a Gesamtkunstwerk, indeed! If there is one thing I urge you not to miss in Venice, it is really those breath-taking views and vistas. (Spoiler Alert: in a future blog post, we shall have a look at the views from the San Giorgio Maggiore bell tower which are, in my humble opinion as a novice, even more stunning!)
While Venice has a reputation for being expensive – and don’t get me wrong, it certainly is, especially if you visit such ritzy places as Caffè Florian or Caffè Lavena where the cheapest drink starts at the 6€ mark – I think that generally speaking, in comparison to London, the city is fairly affordable. (Shoot me now!) For example, a trip up the Campanile in Piazza San Marco will only set you back 1/3 of the price you would pay to go up the Shard. For those amazing views? Bargain!
As the day was winding down, I decided to embark onto a vaporetto – one boat part of Venice’s fleet of water-buses – and take a trip down the Giudecca Canal, past Punta della Dogana with Santa Maria della Salute silhouetted in the background. The sun was just setting down, as you can witness from the two pictures below, and this added a rather enchanting and Impressionist effect to the vistas that were slowly unfurling in front of my eyes. Sublime!
After my boat trip, I ended up back in Piazza San Marco and decided to start trying to find my way back home. In Venice, I believe, the act of getting lost has been elevated to a high art form and it is an integral part of the fun. Discoveries are truly to be made around every corner – for example, each bridge has its own secrets to keep, etc. – and this adds a tremendous sense of adventure to your explorations. Although I know this sounds like a tired cliché, I have experienced this phenomenon to be true in the City of (many) Masks.
During one week in Venice, I went all a bit bonkers – can you blame me? – and I managed to take over 1500 pictures. (Yes.) The photographs you’ve seen today are only the highlights from my first day – I swear I haven’t cheated at this game – and I will be dusting out more of them at a later stage.
*As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was busy preparing for an interview last week, so I had a valid excuse to skip my blog duties. I have actually applied to become a City of Westminster Guide and, as a matter of fact, I’m proud to announce that I have been accepted onto the one-year course. In terms of the blog, however, this means that we will now be running on a slightly slower schedule. I hope you understand.
Take care and see you soon again!