Between the floods (the terrible Acqua Alta of 12 Nov 2019) and the lock-down due to the Covid-19 epidemic in 2020, Venice has not had much luck lately. La Serenissima Repubblica di San Marco is suffering, and I feel for the inhabitants of this beautiful city (and of course all others affected by it). Usually overwhelmed by too many tourists, they must now be wishing the tourists back. I was there in between, just after the floods, in November 2019, when two things were going on: On the one hand, there was the Biennale di Venezia, and I got my fill (perhaps even an overdose) of art, both old and contemporary. And on the other hand that weekend was also an annual festival for a local saint, the Madonna of the Salute’s Festival. Covid-19 Lock-down has given me a chance to work on my memories.
While Venice is a water beauty any time of year (which makes for much of its charm), sometimes nature can overdo it. Of course I was not there during the extreme high water episode, but I did experience the after-effects and just a bit of flooding (albeit at levels the Venetians are well used to). Fortunately, museums had re-opened by the time I got there, although some exhibition spaces remained closed due to water damage.
Rubber boots were sometimes required (galoshes are readily available from vendors around town), and we were woken rather early every morning by – not unpleasant – rising siren tones. Venetians apparently know how high the water will rise according to the levels of the siren tones. If you want to know what this sounds like, you can listen in on this soundscape blog.
To your health – salute!
The Festa della Salute commemorates the end of a 17th century plague episode. The beautiful baroque church “La Salute” was built in gratitude, and to this day annual processions go there on the 21st of November.
Venetians even build a special pontoon bridge across the Grand Canal from Campo Santa Maria del Giglio to the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (“La Salute”), which afterwards is taken down again.
I could not witness the procession, but I did see the inside of the church, beautifully lit for mass and by many candles that day.
Venice is of course a grand dame when it comes to art. It has such rich collections that it would be impossible to see it all during even a prolonged visit. But every two years, it adds even more to it. The Venice Art Biennale, a contemporary visual art exhibition, is the original biennale on which others in the world have been modelled.
I had been to Venice several times, but had never made it into the famous Doge´s Palace. This time I did, grateful that there were fewer tourists than usual, and it was well worth it. The palace is absolutely stunning.
Many Venetian churches are also Art Museums in themselves. One that I got to visit was Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, consecrated with this name in 1492. In it you can admire the tombs of many famous Venetians, among them that of Titian, the most prominent 16th-century Venetian painter.
One of my favourite places was the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a stunning collection of modern art.
A tourist “Mecca”
Apart from the art, I tried to document the impact of tourism in the streets of Venice, but, believe it or not, this was not as easy as it might have been during “normal” times. I was there just a couple of weeks after the damages from the floods had occurred, and as a result many tourists had cancelled their visit (unnecessarily, as all museums had reopened by the time I got there) and so, although still well visited, places like the Piazza San Marco were not as crowded as they can be.
Nevertheless, I did manage to take a few shots that allude to the impact tourism can have on this beautiful city.
I have many more photos than I can possibly show here, but if you click on the gallery below you can see a little slide show of venice that shows some more impressions. (May not work on all devices.)
Impressions from life on the waterways and in the streets of Venice (dogs included).
Thank you for travelling with me virtually. I hope that soon we will be able to travel to Venice again in real life.
And – you know – I always thought, gondolas are just for tourists and well, I don´t want to be such a tourist. But the tour I took (with my mother) included a gondola ride, and I have to admit it was really lovely. So, permit me, just one more gondola shot.
But otherwise, the vaporetto is the way to go!