Venice in between

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.

High waters

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.

There can be beauty in flooding. The well by Bartolomeo Bon in the courtyard of the Gothic Ca’ D’oro, with a contemporary art installation during the Biennale

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.

Acqua Alta is an exceptional tidal high that comes and goes, usually lasting just a few hours.

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. 

Construction on La Salute began in 1631. Most of the objects of art housed in the church bear references to the Black Death.

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.

A temporary floating bridge is built on floats, just for the festival.

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.

For the Festa della Salute, pilgrims light many candles inside the baroque church.

Eternal art

May You Live In Interesting Times – I think it is fair to say that we do (careful what you wish for!)

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.

Contemporary art met classic art at the Ca d´Oro during the Biennale

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.

Inside the Doge´s Palace

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.

Touching tributes at the feet of a Madonna sculpture

One of my favourite places was the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a stunning collection of modern art.



The Nostalgia of the Poet by Giorgio de Chirico (1914) – and a rather well suited viewer

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.

Well visited, but surprisingly uncrowded, the Piazza San Marco in November 2019

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!



4 thoughts on “Venice in between

  1. Thank you for the tour of Venice, Karin. I have only visited there once, and don’t know if I ever make it back. And while I understand the financial loss from no tourists, I hope they can figure out a way to control the numbers of people that visit at any given time. I, for one, think that the large cruise ships should be forbidden from docking there, but that might not be a popular decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree, Tanja, cruise ships are a scourge of many places, and this whole cruise industry pattern should be rethought. And in places such as Venice, they should definitely be banned. Thank you for looking at my gallery. I do hope you make it back to this beautiful city one day, but best not in the main tourist season!


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