Peggy and I return to Venice today as part of our Armchair Travel in the Time of Covid-19 series. Among other things we walk on water, check out a winged lion, and learn about the Saint who was shipped to Venice in a pork barrel. Again, this is adapted from earlier posts I did when visiting the Mediterranean in 2013.
Being eager to begin our exploration of Venice we picked up a water taxi from the cruise port. It retraced our earlier route from a sea-level perspective and deposited us near a large statue of Victor Emmanuel. He served as the first king of Italy when the various Italian city-states were united in the mid 1800s.
In addition to an imposing horse and Victor, the statue features Venice, represented as a woman, and St. Mark, represented as a winged lion, book-ending the monument. On one end, the lion bites through the chains of Austrian oppression while Venice looks on in a tattered dress; on the other end he roars in victory and Venice is clothed in an expensive dress.
St. Mark, with his representational lion, is the protector of Venice. The lion can be found almost everywhere. Mark— of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John— supposedly came through the region when it was a swamp and gave his blessing. This justified two Venetian merchants turning into grave robbers and stealing the body from Alexandria in 828 AD. They slipped Mark into a pork barrel for transport. Muslims consider pork unclean so the barrel was unlikely to be checked by the local officials.
Mark made it safely to Venice in his smelly container, was presented to the Doge of Venice, and was subsequently buried under what would become St. Mark’s Basilica located on St. Mark’s Square, which was our objective for the day.
Along the way we would pass by the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace. We would also walk on water. Actually we walked on tables that are placed in the square to help people avoid the Adriatic Sea, which is a regular visitor. Between Venice sinking some nine inches per century, high tides, and global warming, floods have become a serious problem for the city.
FRIDAY’S POST: We will visit the famed canals of Venice.