Gondolas at work

Venice is an unreal place for real people

September 15-16, 1999:

Venitian Manhole CoverVenice got its start as a refuge from barbarian invaders when the Roman empire fell.

Around the turn of the millennium (after the dark ages) they became a prosperous maritime capital. With Marco Polo and the other explores who opened up the Silk Road with the Orient, Venice grew to a rich and powerful nation. The Venetians worked hard to show how wealthy they were.

Nowhere else have we found marble sewer covers.

Venitian street   

Then the younger colonial powers like Spain and England found new routes to the orient and cut off the flow of trade through Venice.

Grand Canal Palace   



Then these grand palaces which had been built to be serviced only by expensively rowed gondolas fell into disuse and disrepair.



Venitian street   

But the Venetians have held on, against all odds. Real people live here and go to work every day, leaving their laundry to dry over the emerald green waterways.




Only elite locals can afford to have a gondola anymore.






Vaporatti stop

Most locals depend on the Vaporatti (a word coming from when these boats were powered by steam engines) to get around. At every stop the conductor must attach and detach the mooring lines.





Of course most of their industry revolves around tourists.





Japanese in gondolas

The Japanese seem to monopolize the daytime gondola traffic. Here a group has a veritable flotilla in charge. Each one has the dad in the prow taking pictures of the family.

Romaticism and Advertising   



The city is a romantic Mecca, offering all sorts of unique attractions.

Dining next to modern media.

Feeding frenzy

Being dined on by frantic fowl.


Stairways to the imagination...   

Stairway to neptune   







Many of the Venetians are artists, continuing a proud tradition.

Piergiorgio Brusegan's face is more beautiful than his art;
it shows lines from a lifetime of smiles.



Shops for woodworkers, potters, glassblowers, puppet makers and mask painters crowd the narrow streets of Venice.




Mask painter  




Three Face Mask

Mask Making is particularly big because of a costume festival held annually for 20 days in February.




Old man and the sea

But sometimes Venetians just sit and
remember glorious times long gone.




San Marcos

The glories of Venetian architecture still abound. To the left is San Marcos, which grew gaudily decorated over the centuries as all ships returning from afar were required by law to bring a precious gift to add to its splendor.

Until the dawn of the 19th century, this was the private chapel of the Doges -- effectively the kings of Venice.

Rialto Bridge   


Rialto bridge was once the destination of deal makers and brokers in trade fortunes. Now it's the destination of tourists on the number 1 Vaporatti.

San Maria della Salute   

As the number one Vaporatti comes around the corner of Grand Canal toward San Marco, one's eyes can't stay off San Maria della Salute. It was built in the seventeenth century to commemorate the city's deliverance from a plague, hence the name Salute which means 'health.'

Titians Assumption of the Virgin   

But our favorite cathedral was Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which was recommended by the friends we met in Florence.

We got to see Renaissance masterpieces in the setting where they were intended: church altars. To the right is 'The Assumption of the Virgin' by Titian.

The Franciscans weren't going to accept this piece until the Bavarian ambassador said he wanted it.


Also in the church is an immense monument showing Africans holding up the weight of fair skinned figures on the top row. In 1479 this probably had a different meaning than today. As we looked up at it, we were awed by the humanity in their eyes and forlorn at the tattered clothing they wore.

It reminds us our civilization was built on exploitation such as this.





WC Cards
Venitians use 'WC Cards' when they need to go to the lou.
Plumbing is a prized commodity in a city so close to sea level.

Claire and Squid Ink
Our friend Claire from NYC shows off the
effect of Squid Ink Pasta on her tongue.

See one of Central Europe's up and coming cities:
Ljubljana, Slovenia

Back to Italy

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