Venetian Reminiscences – Act I

Dear Reader(s),

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.

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Just another regular day on the Grand Canal as seen from the Rialto Bridge, San Polo.

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.)

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The view from Riva degli Schiavoni onto San Giorgio Maggiore, San Marco.

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.

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And up the tower we go! The Campanile in Piazza San Marco.

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.

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View from the Piazza San Marco campanile onto the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale.

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!

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Magnificent vista of San Giorgio Maggiore and its superb church designed by Andrea Palladio.

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A (bell tower) Room with a View: E.M. Forster would certainly have approved!

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!)

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The ‘leaning’ Campanile di San Marco

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!

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The Porta della Carta or the ceremonial entrance to the Doge’s Palace.

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!

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The past and the present often collide in Venice: Santa Maria della Salute, Dorsoduro.

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A sweeping view of the Fondamenta delle Zattere from the Giudecca Canal, Dorsoduro.

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.

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Views from the Rialto Bridge are best enjoyed when the sun sets over the lagoon.

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Night sets in: The Grand Canal seen from the Ponte degli Scalzi, Santa Croce.

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!

y.

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24 thoughts on “Venetian Reminiscences – Act I

  1. Hi Yannick

    Firstly I would like to congratulate you on being accepted onto the Westminster Guides course. I know your place there is well deserved. I was delighted to hear your good news and although the course involves a lot of hard work it will be great fun. Good luck and I wish you every success with it 🙂

    Secondly thank you for a delightful start to the weekend with your latest utterly charming blog about your beloved Venice. Although @franpickering and I joke with you about your use of the V word, and please note it was you that brought it up this time, I secretly never tire of hearing you talking about it.

    Again you have the knack of make you blog look effortless but well done in narrowing down the photographs as I might well have used up my entire internet usage allowance for the month if I had to download them all. The photos you have selected are stunning but then hopefully even with my inferior camera phone I couldn’t take a bad shot of Venice 🙂

    Act I, well I hope this isn’t a one act play and knowing you I’m sure we’ll have some more scenes to enjoy soon.

    • Hi T,

      Thanks a lot for the congratulations and all your support during the application process. Although you will deny this, I couldn’t have done it all without you, so, in the spirit of Venice, grazie mille!

      Don’t unleash the demon re: the ‘V’ word. This might turn ugly and become a case of be careful what you wish for. 🙂

      I can’t believe you’ve managed to mention your already legendary inferior camera phone. Oh dear, what did I start ages ago?

      Take care,

      y.

  2. Hi Yannick!
    Congrats on the course!! You’ll soon be the “Big Smoke” number one guide!

    Never feel ashamed of not having blogged in time. Blogging must stay a pleasure and if you don’t feel like it or don’t have time, don’t blog. I prefer to wait a bit longer and read a great post than reading something written “à la va-vite”, like we say. Don’t impose yourself any deadline or strict schedule.
    I never visited Venice, but I’m sure that if I do, I will read and re-read your precious posts!

    • Hi Cindy,

      Thanks for your kind words re: the course. They are highly appreciated! 🙂 As one of ‘my’ visitors, you have been very supportive. Can you believe it, a few more Japan Tours and I will be up to 150!

      I know, I need to tone it down a bit re: strict blogging schedule, but I’m sure you have felt bloggers’ guilt in the past too. I suppose it’s something every blogger goes through.

      If you ever decide to visit Venice, get back to me and I can give you a few tips.

      Take care and enjoy your trip to Korea!

      y.

  3. Wonderful post, wonderful pictures, wonderful city, I can’t wait to see the rest of the 1500 pictures! Well done with the Westminster Guides course! And I had to read the “a trip to Bella Italia” bit twice as I initially thought @GWinLondon dragged you to that restaurant chain against your will! 🙂

  4. Lovely pictures, well worth waiting for. And congratulations on getting onto the guiding course! I’m sure you’ll love it, even if it means blogging a bit less frequently. I’m glad VisitVenice turned out so well – what would I have done if you’d hated it? 🙂

    • Hi Fran,

      Thank you very much for your support – I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this post once again! I think you have now as many mentions on this blog as I have on yours, so I think it’s time to create a ‘Fran Pickering’ tag, don’t you think?

      Yes, I’m very much looking forward to the course and it will be another kind of adventure, I’m sure.

      Indeed, things could have become awkward for you if I had hated VistVenice, but luckily that didn’t happen. I highly recommend their services!

      y.

  5. I read your post twice (see how I enjoyed it!) but could find no mention of the Bovolo staircase. What happened? Another post, please, to fill the gap. Well done getting onto the guide course. I hope you’ll be blogging about it. It will be fascinating to hear more.

    • Hi LS,

      Glad you had to read my post twice – I never expected you to do that! 😉 Indeed, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo is missing from this post as I didn’t see it on my first day in Venice. (It will make an appearance at some later stage.) It’s a shame it is closed for renovations at the moment, and from the looks of it, I have feeling I won’t be able to go to the top as well when I go back in October! 😦

      Thanks re: the course. I’m thinking about it and I might very well blog the experience. We shall see how it goes!

      y.

    • Hi Renuka,

      Thank you very much for visiting my blog! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this post about Venice. I know I have only visited the city once, but La Serenissima is already very dear to my heart! 🙂

      y.

    • Hi Maaike,

      Haha. While Venice is very photogenic, I might have to prove you wrong though re: bad pictures. I managed to take quite a few and I’m sure that might make for an interesting post too!

      Cheers!

      y.

    • Yes, in the spirit of Emma Hamilton (did she ever go?), you have to give Venice another go. We need to unleash Continental London Kiwi Emma and it would give your husband another opportunity to visit Protestant churches! 😉

      y.

  6. Absolutely great post again, Yannick! I love your writing style. Have never visited Venice, but really want to, so great to have yours (and Fran’s) tips on where to stay and visit. And many congratulations on your new job! Very well deserved.

    • Hi Helena,

      Thanks a lot for your very kind comment!

      I think you would like Venice very much – especially Peggy Guggenheim’s sculpture garden. While there’s no B. Hepworth statue there, I think it’s right up your alley … or in this case … your canal.

      Can’t wait for your blog!

      y.

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