The Rialto Bridge, One of Four, Spanning the Grand Canal in Venice

Discovering the Magic of Venice

In anticipation of discovering the magic of Venice, we (my family and I) had already prepared ourselves with knowledge about the attractions and history of Venice before we set off from London. The number of low-cost flights made it remarkably easy to get there, but the popularity of the peak summer season made it extremely expensive to stay near Piazza San Marco (St Marks Square), the main public square in Venice. At least the air conditioning in the hotel justified the expense!

My City Of Canaletto

As a matter of fact, my favourite part of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is the room of numerous Canaletto paintings. His paintings imparted in me that sense of magic which I wanted to experience in Venice first hand.

The Piazza San Marco with the Basilica by Canaletto, (Fogg Art Museum Cambridge)

The Piazza San Marco with the Basilica by Canaletto, (Fogg Art Museum Cambridge)

However, shortly after checking in to our hotel and walking to the Piazza, these rather petty things were relegated to the back of my mind. Although I had initially thought that the real Venice would not match up to the hype, I was already starting to become fascinated by this Italian city. The magic has already kicked in! Legend has it that the city was founded on marshland during the 5th century. As we wandered through the alleys, canals and bridges, my family and I were slowly drawn into the romance and the magic of Venice. For me, the city’s Italian name – Venezia – always sounded better, much like Italian operas sung in their original language.

Canaletto's Painting of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Flangini_

Canaletto’s Painting of the Grand Canal from Palazzo Flangini

The opera ‘Attila (King of the Huns)’ premiered at the La Fenice (Phoenix Opera House), amongst the most famous opera houses in Europe. Scene 2 of the opera, based in the mid-5th century, is located at ‘A swamp, the future site of Venice’. True to its name, La Fenice (The Phoenix) has a history of being lost to fires, the third fire occurring as recently as in 1996. Each time it was rebuilt and rose from the ashes.

Interior of Teatro la Fenice (The Phoenix Opera House)

Interior of Teatro la Fenice (The Phoenix Opera House). Image Source: Wikipedia

An Extraordinary Expression Of Mankind’s Creative Genius

Like La Fenice opera house, Venezia has had its share of ups and downs, but it has also risen from the ashes throughout its long history. Built over a group of 118 small islands that are connected by about 400 bridges, Venezia is an extraordinary expression of mankind’s creative genius. It is a world within an Italian world, with its lively canals where you can be serenaded to during romantic gondola rides in the evenings, preferably with moonlight to heighten the intimacy. My wife chose not to succumb to the lure of a gondola ride, and although I wanted to go, I reluctantly agreed with her. In life, it is always good to have something of value to aspire too. July 2003 was our visit. In July 2010, we were in Piran, southwest Slovenia and Venezia crossed my mind. The distance from Piran to Venezia was about 100  kilometres due west across the Adriatic Sea, so of course we decided to focus on the attractions of Slovenia. Maybe the time has come to think about that return visit (please see below my other reason for a return visit).

Serendipity Is The Name Of The Game To Enjoy Venetia

The most practical way to discover the architecture of Venetia is by walking. As you can’t drive on the island, there aren’t that many other ways!  It is also very enjoyable as you stumble upon hidden gems unexpectedly – like lovely cafes and delicatessens. The Venetian cuisine is enticing, more so if you enjoy Italian cooking. It was a really pleasant surprise when my favourite pasta, the Black Squid Ink Spaghetti (Spaghetti Al Nero di Seppia), was served to me during one of our lunches. It was not on the menu, but my wife Melinda had secretly negotiated with the chef, and as luck would have it, the staff had the same pasta for their lunch – what a treat!

A Lambo Will Not Be Much Use In Venice

A Lambo Will Not Be Much Use In Venice (Note: Can’t Help But Add This Lambo Taken In Milan)

In Search Of Art, Culture & The Roots Of Western Civilisation

And when it comes to the other artistic and cultural traditions, Venezia is a treasure trove. Starting from the mid-17th century, it was the privilege of well-heeled British and then later, European young men to undertake the Grand Tour of Europe through France and Italy in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilisation. It was the British who had come up with the idea of Venezia as the “locus of decadent Italianate allure”. They had made Venezia an epitome and cultural setpiece of the Grand Tour. To this day, Venezia is still one of the most important tourist destinations in the world and continues to be a fashionable city in vogue. The Carnival of Venice, the Venice Biennale and the Venice Film Festival have further added to the international prestige of Venezia and the city continues to attract visitors from all over the world for their cultural, cinematic, artistic and musical productions.

Geography Of Venice In One Minute!

So, add Venezia to your bucket list if you have not already done so! and have fun Discovering the Magic of Venice… I have produced the following map so that you can, in just one minute, learn the main geography in and around Venice.

Venice, Airport, Mestre, Murano, Lido, Ca Savio, Pellestrina, Chioggia & Venice Lagoon

Venice, Airport, Mestre, Murano, Lido, Ca Savio, Pellestrina, Chioggia & Venice Lagoon

My Compelling Reason to Revisit Venice

More than its magic, I am planning to experience the Venice Biennale 2017 first hand come late September/early October. Specifically, I want to watch Geomancer (4K) showing now at the HyperPavilion and which is located in Arsenale Nord, Venice. The 45-minute film is by my son Lawrence – described as a mini opus about an Artificial Intelligence being, the Geomancer. Just can’t wait.

HyperPavilion @ The Vienna Biennale 2017

HyperPavilion @ The Vienna Biennale 2017

 

Vado a Venezia (according to Google Translate which I believe will achieve par excellence in time to come).