Photo: Hotel Danieli, Venice by Jan Bill
Entering Venice transports you into the Renaissance period of religious paintings and relics. The goddess city is an excellent setting for a modern crusade. You can use the renovation projects funded by Venice in Peril as your guide, unless the environmental elements disintegrate the design flare created from the 13th through 17th centuries.
Arriving by train builds anticipation with each depot stop where teenagers board carrying backpacks and sleeping bags. After the shock of disembarking at a rundown train station, you exit into a world with the electrifying energy of Diagon Alley on the other side of the Leaky Cauldron’s wall.
Outside, the sun streams the length of a canal lined with quoined terra cotta and vermilion facades. Vaporetti drift within speeding flatboat taxis. Bridges span the waterways. Alleys funnel in all directions, corridors to churches and cemeteries. Regardless of how you arrive, both hotel and public boat taxis can take you down the winding canals to the submerged doorstep of wherever you stay.
“I love Venice. I remember Mozart lounging on a vaporetto in Amadaus,” I say to my dear Yankee husband, Zip.
“That’s Vienna,” Zip replies. “Mozart never lived here. People always get Venice and Vienna confused.”
We set off to explore the chapels with me in my favorite walking heels and a stroller in tow so I don’t have to carry the whippersnapper. Zip, eager to take in all the crumbling, desolate and bustling dead ends before cocktail hour, ducks through lingering crowds, leaping up the steps of bridge after bridge, after bridge.
“I sure can visualize Mozart here.” I shake out my numb toes while describing the lavish costumes and garish makeup from the movie.
“It’s Vienna,” he says.
By mid-afternoon, I’m fatigued and no longer able to pick up the stroller and child to carry over the arched bridges. Strangers break free from understanding companions to help lift my cargo over the steps. No matter which alleys my husband and I venture down, we eventually returned to the same Ponte dei Barcaroli bridge. I convince Zip to take in the beauty of a vaporetto ambling below. Lo and behold, an enormous sign gives homage to Mozart having been in that very spot.
“See. I know history. I watch TV.” I nudge my husband and he nods.
I manage to get the last word only because Zip doesn’t read Italian. Mozart merely visited the city with his father.
The secret to a spiritual walkabout is to venture down the intriguing crannies alongside interconnecting canals. On the other side of the next bridge are decaying neighborhoods with artistry equal to the refurbished sections.
Exploring by boat gives a breathtaking view of the mansions, especially where you glide inside the foyer of a palace. A new perspective appears during a midnight sail.
Key points of the city include the Basilica of St. Marks where the disciple’s bones are preserved. Harry’s Bar boasts having authors and artists create their greatest works within its walls, with Ernest Hemingway as one of the most famous.
Each island has a unique flavor. A monastery fortress fills one private destination. A fisherman’s island is lit with yellow buildings and vibrant fabrics cover the doorways. On another is amazing glassware.
Unfortunately, part of Venice’s unique ambience are the eroded stucco and weathered artwork. Venice in Peril hopes to deter the effects of the sea level consistently rising four to six millimeters per year as estimated by the Cambridge Coastal Research Unit. Where St. Mark’s Square once flooded fewer than ten times per year, the frequency has increased to sixty times within the same period. Flooding encompasses as much as 93% of the city.
The paintings and architecture suffer from air and water pollution, as well. According to Nations Encyclopedia, Italy’s air pollution includes deadly carbon monoxide emissions. Water pollution caused by industrial and agricultural contaminants has warranted warnings for pregnant women to have abortions.
Venice in Peril empowers the restoration of murals and building foundations. They give equal support to the lesser known churches and cemeteries, and therefore they preserve history. Their project list can serve as a discovery path on how Venetians viewed religions and politics throughout the ages. For information about specific projects funded by Venice in Peril, see, https://www.veniceinperil.org.