15 May 2008


When I come across a Venetian view like this one – nothing spectacular or unusual, just any corner in the city, looking as it has for hundreds of years – it takes me a moment to realize that it’s real. Not a movie set. Not a stage backdrop. Not a projection or an illusion of some kind. Not a Las Vegas theme park. Not fake. But a real city, full of living, breathing people leading their lives, doing their work, playing often, laughing a lot, loving their families and friends. Just like any other city on Earth. Except that the most ordinary street corner looks like this

The whole of La Serenissima is and always has been a living artwork-in-progress, more so than any other place on this planet. Why? Because every inch of Her, even the very ground, was created by men and women of minimal means who only intended to survive the onslaught of the Lombards and Attila the Hun. But they were surely a unique breed, because they completely outdid themselves over the years. They managed to thrive, and more – to flourish. Out of sheer will and not a little arrogance, they built a small but powerful, beautiful world unlike any other. The rest of us have gazed, slack-jawed, for centuries.

I, always hoping I will flourish too, never forget this utterly human achievement. Venice helps me remember that what can be envisioned can be realized… and far, far more. Certainly this is a great part of the city’s draw for me.

I imagine all of us who live here take this place for granted occasionally. But every so often I look up and I get a simple visual reminder like this one, and it just knocks me out.