By Mark Raynes Roberts
Toronto – London
Venice – A Dreamscape To Love
To fully experience the romance, beauty and Renaissance art and architecture of Venice, there is no better time to visit than in winter, when the Acqua alta has receded, (flooding which occurs in October/November) and the translucent light of the city makes one feel part of an impressionist painting.
Built in a lagoon on muddy marshland, Venice dates back to 568AD and has been sinking it seems since the beginning of time. Even so, the foundations of the city pinned together by wooden stakes for centuries, continue to secure some of the world’s most prized art treasures. A memorial to this ancient gateway of eastern and western culture, it is a testament to the strength and spirit of the Venetian people.
An experience not to miss is the golden sunrise that illuminates the St. Marco Campanile, San Marco Basilica and Doge’s Palace, as the city still sleeps with the exception of the few street sweepers in the Piazza St. Marco. One imagines how Venice might have felt during the height of the Renaissance period, with only the gentle bumping of gondolas at the canals edge to disturb your thoughts.
If you have the opportunity to experience a concert at the Teatro La Fenice take it, to experience first-hand the beauty of this magnificent opera house which has been restored on three different occasions due to fire in 1774, 1836 and 1996. You will be transported not only by the music but also the golden Venetian splendor and elegance of the building. Afterwards, enjoy an evening nightcap at the Hotel Danieli, a Byzantine masterpiece of architecture, or sit on the patio at the Hotel Monaco, (opposite the original Harry’s Bar, now sadly closed, the originator of the Bellini cocktail) situated on the Grand Canal, with a wonderful view of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute illuminated at night.
Take a trip to view the masters of glass on the island of Murano, and walk the narrow passageways where there is always the potential of discovering a piazza filled with vibrant Trattoria’s where the local Venetians hang out to enjoy the early setting sun.
For me Venice is a timeless and beautiful city that, like an endangered species, should be appreciated in all its glory by paying our respects to it with the same love and devotion we would give to an aging parent or someone we loved dearly. I love Venice in this way. It is a place where I feel at home, and as I leave and turn to look back from the vaporetto, I see that dreamscape so vividly painted by J.M.W. Turner.