Sunday, 9 February 2014

The City of Love

There are many cities that have been have been called the 'City of Love'.  

Paris is one that springs readily to mind.  

But then Rome, Prague, and Vienna have been given that title.  

Now I see that Glasgow wants to reinvent itself and become Scotland's City of Love…

And then there is Venice.

Venice: With it's colourful history, it's masques and gondolas, it's carnival celebrations, and canals both large and small.
Red-haired Antonio Vivaldi called Venice home. So did the composer Albinoni and the artist Tiepolo.

Venice.  A city that seems not quite European and not quite 'Oriental' but something in between.  A child of east and west.  
In his 1767 Gazetteer, the English writer, Dr, Richard Brookes write simply that Venice is 'superb', and I agree. 
I love going to Venice and have been fortunate enough to go there several times with AGA for extended periods.

So, here is my Valentine's Day present to you: Grab your hats and come with me on a tour to this magical and romantic city…

Venice is a city of canals.  

Some large:

And some small:

But all have a certain something about them.  A magic that I don't think could be replicated elsewhere:

And bridges: Everywhere there are little humped back bridges:

Look at this: You could have been transported back 500 years:

In some parts, the city seems to float upon the waters:

And then there is the lagoon which surrounds the islands upon which Venice stands:

Wonderful both in the daylight. . .

. . . and in the evening.

Of course, Venice isn't only canals.  Does the absence of cars add to Venice's air of romance?

Or is it the wonderful St Mark's Square?

I love the domes of St Mark's.  There is a sumptuousness about them that remind me of a Caliph's turban:

And the interior takes one's breath away:
(One isn't permitted to take photos within St Mark's and I took this one not realizing the fact but the guard kindly said that I did not have to delete the one I had taken.)

Standing in St Mark's Square one is surrounded by history.
Here are 'The Four Tetrarchs' (taken from Byzantium and placed here) on the corner of St Mark's Basilica.  I like the fact that they are hugging in friendship with one hand while the other hand firmly grasps a sword.
(You can see that part of the far right foot is missing and has been replaced.  I have seen part of the missing foot in the Archeaological museum in Istanbul)

Here is one of the entrances to the Doges' Palace:
The remains of the evangelist St Mark are buried within the Basilica and his symbol (the winged Lion) is everywhere.

I stood with my back to the portal of St Mark's Basilica to take this photograph:
That tower is the Campanile (the Bell Tower).  it was rebuilt after collapsing in 1902. The flag is the flag of Venice.
Here is another view for you, in the late afternoon sun:

Of course there are other famous landmarks such as the: the Rialto Bridge, the Bridge of Sighs, the Ca' d'Oro, and the interior of the Doges' Palace itself; but I think that I prefer to end this little tour by showing you some less well known things that make me love this city so much:

The unexpected views one gets while walking through the narrow lane ways:

This painting on the underside of the Rialto Bridge:

Pigeons.  Pigeons are everywhere!

 The shops selling glassware:

And lanterns:

The various devotional statues and small shrines in the streets:

Window grills:


The lions heads on the doors into St Mark's Basilica:

The Churches:

And their sumptuous Interiors:

Marzipan fruits:

The Statue of the Winged Lion of St Mark, in St Mark's Square:

 The pink tinted glass of the street lanterns:

The unexpected treasure to be stumbled upon without knowing they were there:

Watching the gondolas in the narrow canals:

 This impromptu Tango exhibition by the local tango club one summer's evening:

And the fact that I was able to introduce my nephew and niece to this wonderful place!
(W is being a typical teenager.  A is being a typical princess with her fancy straw hat!)

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of Venice.  
Have you been there?  
If you did, do you have a special memory?  
If you haven't been there yet, is there something that you would especially like to see?


  1. I have never been to this magical place, Kirk; I've been to Vernazza and Monterosso while touring Cinqua Terra. But Italy is a place I must go back to and this is what I want to see. Your photography is fabulous!!!!!! Thank you for the tour. Anita

    1. Dear Anita,
      Thank you for your kind comments. My sister has plans for traveling the Cinqua Terra. I have not been there myself. I think that you would love visiting Venice. It would be very much your type of city! Kirk

  2. Hello Kirk, It is astounding how much there is to Venice. Often we encounter one aspect individually--the palaces, architecture, glassware, canals, etc., but your travelogue reminds us that these are all to be found in one place. One small detail I really liked here was the marzipan prickly pears. If I were lucky enough to go there, I would especially want to concentrate on the architecture.

    1. Dear Jim,
      You are right. There is a lot more to Venice than the usual 'attractions'. One thing that I have learnt while using my camera in Europe is to use my eyes as well. It surprising what things one spots. I'm glad you noticed the prickly pear fruit. That is why I put that photo in the post! I must say that they are very lifelike. My father used to grow them in the garden. I think that you should try and go there one day if you are able to. The architecture of Venice is something that attracts me as well. Bye for now and I hope you are having a good week, Kirk

  3. Really lovely photos of Venice Kirk - how can anyone ever tire of Venice? My special memory is investing in a wonderful glass sculpture of two figures. It was very difficult to get home, and cost an arm and a leg, but 30 years later I still love it.
    I was shocked when I visited Istanbul and realised how many treasures the Venetians had purloined including of course the Four Bronze Horses which they removed from the Hippodrome.

    1. Dear Rosemary,

      Thank you for your kind comments. I agree with you - one cannot ever tire of such a beautiful city.

      While I was in Istanbul on a conference I bought a book on the history of the city and I too was surprised at what had taken place. Poor old Byzantium had done so much to try and maintain the old empire but new alliances and new jealousies were the cause of her downfall I think and Venice was quite eager to skim the cream off the rich pickings to be had.

      I hope the flooding is not affecting your area!

      Bye for now


      I remember once carrying a fairly large porcelain Royal Dux statue of roe deer on the plane home from Prague on my lap as I didn't dare leave it for anyone else to handle.

  4. Venice is one of my all-time favourite places to visit, especially since I never know how many more times I will be able to return. Are those stunning buildings sinking?

    I liked your reference to the Oriental aspect of the city. Not surprising since this medieval city-state was the centre of a powerful, east-focussed commercial empire. Venetian merchants must have thought they were kings of the world.

    1. Dear Hels,
      I am with you when it comes to Venice. It is really rather beautiful, no matter when one visits.
      One time we were there St Mark's Square was partially flooded. If I lived in Venice I would always be slightly nervous of rising sea levels.
      Venice grew fat on all that Levantine trade, and while proud of being a republic of sorts, they had so much wealth that the world was indeed their oyster!
      Enjoy the 'cooler' weather down there in Melbourne. My mother was telling me on the weekend that it had been so hot she found it somewhat hard to breath when outside.

  5. Dear Kirk,

    First of all, let me say commend you for being the uncle every young person should be so lucky to have!

    Thanks for sharing these great photos, and especially for the shots of details, like that marvelous Venetian flag and the sun image. I'm guessing that you have a glass souvenir from Venice.

    1. Dear Mark,
      Travelling en masse with AGA, my mother, my sister, and our cheeky nephew and niece through Italy proved to be a holiday to remember for many and varied reasons! Actually they, together with our other nieces and nephews are one of the reasons we are returning to Melbourne.
      Thank you for your kind comments. I nearly left out that image of the sun in splendour, but realised it at the last moment. Yes, we do have a few glass souvenirs from Venice including a set of rather beautiful 1950s Murano glass goblets in their original box. I also bought a very nice hand painted Venetian mask.
      I hope you are having a nice week.

  6. A dear friend proposed to his girlfriend in Venice. He had arranged the whole thing with the gondelier. His future wife watched in concern as he got paler and paler as the trip progressed. When he slipped to his knees she was convinced he had motion sickness and was about to throw up. She sprung forward chanelling her inner paramedic. Once he fought off her attentions the poor guy was finally able to propose.

  7. I've been to Venice 6 years ago and your tour reminded me those days. I was waiting my visit to Venice with impatience. And the special memory was the view that I saw taking video and standing in the bow of the boat. This was a boat that takes people from bus station to the St. Marco square. This first view of Venice was breathtaking. Thank you for sharing Kirk!

    1. Dear Nadezda,
      I know that boat - it is like a water taxi. I remember traveling on one with AGA and I must say that it is such a wonderful way to see Venice for the first time. It makes everything seems as though it is in a dream.

  8. I spent a lot of time in Italy, but never made it to Venice (and have always meant to). This "teaser" really makes we want to go now. Great photos!

  9. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Kirk. This is almost as good as the real thing. :) My best friend and her hubby took a Mediterranean cruise last year and Venice was - of course - one of the highlights. But I'm afraid their picture taking (or lack thereof) is lamentable. So your pix will have to do. I feel like sending her your post so she'll see what is expected of her. HA!

    1. Dear Yvette,
      Thank you for your kind comments. I don't know how one can go to Venice and not be inspired to take photos!

  10. We've been to Venice a couple of times and each time loved it. It, I think, has always been a romantic city, although during the era of the grand tour was known rather more for its VD than its romance!

    1. You're right there - as I think that rogue Casanova could attest to!