Monday, May 24, 2010


To Venice, where the sky is clear, the air is cool, and where things feel unexpectedly (and uncharacteristically) clean as if a nasty rainstorm just moved through. The weather is as pleasant as I suspect you ever get it here, though still muggy enough that we may have to ration the clean laundry. I marvel once again at what must be the world's longest running and perhaps most successful historical theme-park. Consider: except for the predation of tourists, Venice hasn't had a real reason for being since the Turks took Constantinople in 1453. Yet everything we remember about Venetian art -- Titian, Tintoretto, assorted Bellinis, Tiepolo--comes later. After that, a long party, and then the more or less desperate effort to flog tee-shirts and gondola rides and generally to stay above water. Must be a great place to be a ringworm.

A gondola is going by under our window: a guy in a striped shirt is belting out "Venezia." With a karaoke machine, too much.

1 comment:

BuzzP said...

Not so that Venice lost everything after 1453

Constantinople was virtually nothing since the Venetians ravaged it in 1204 - look at those horses on San Marco (or the real ones) - stolen in 1204 - and the porphyry of the Four Tetrarchs still outside - same "dealer" - etc.

While Venice may have lost some immediate advantage to Genoa (who avoided offending the winning side in 1453), Venetian trade with the Turks and the city recovered with a new treaty, Venice remained immensely wealthy, and it conquered quite a bit of Northern Italy as some sort of lachrymose compense - Yes, there were wars and battles and eventually decay later, but not for more than a century

Florence, on the other hand, lost out almost immediately - by the end of the century, after the Pazzi conspiracy and later Medici collapse, Florence was well on the way from nearly richest city and most important art center, to somewhere in the lower league tables in both arenas - art central moved to Venice and Rome, and trade/banking importance never returned to pre-1453 levels