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.
Perched on the top deck of the Crown Princess, it was easy to see that Venice is an island, a relatively small island. Built on a marsh, it is sinking into the sea at about 9 inches per century. Vivaldi, BTW, once offered music lessons at the Hotel Metropole on the right.
We approached Venice by sea, as mariners have for the past thousand years. I was perched on the top deck of the Crown Princess looking down on the fabled island city with a sea gull’s perspective. Icy winds turned my traveler’s curiosity into a minor act of courage. A warm bar beckoned. But I was strong. There were photos to be taken and adventures to plan. We would be in Venice for the next day and a half and there was much to see. My next five blogs will be devoted to the city. Today’s blog is on my crow’s nest view. I will then write about visiting the area around St. Mark’s Square, admiring the city’s famed canals, getting “lost” among Venice’s confusing streets, and going window shopping.
Venice is justly famed for its canals… and for the bridges over the canals. Each seems to have a different personality.
Altogether, there are some 25 miles of canals. Each one invites exploration. The building just visible on the right is the city’s naval museum. Venice was once one of the world’s greatest sea powers.
The presence of gondolas suggested we were getting near the center of Venice’s greatest tourist attraction…
And we arrived. The building on the right is the Doge’s Palace. Next to it is the beginning of St. Mark’s Square… the center of Venice.
Looking down on St. Mark’s Square. The Campanile is on the left and St. Mark’s Basilica is on the right, behind the Doge’s Palace. Snow capped mountains are in the distance.
I found this building, the Emporio Dei Sali, interesting. Once it housed salt. Now it is home to one of Venice’s best rowing clubs.
This photo looks back toward the Campanile. The opening on the right is the beginning of the Grand Canal. The church with the onion dome is La Salute, which was built as an offering of thanks at the end of the plague of 1630 when one-third of the City’s population died.
A final view from my crow’s nest perspective. The hotel Pensione Calcina was once home to limestone sellers.
NEXT BLOG: The many attractions of St. Mark’s Square as it floods beneath the Adriatic Sea.
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