The Great Plotnik

Monday, October 14, 2013



This city, that was at its peak nearly a thousand years ago, makes you want to take photos. We've been here a day and a half, and have seen everything we came to see: gondoliers in striped shirts piloting their little boats under low bridges, ancient Byzantine towers and churches, and The Grand Canal and the lagoon and everything about a city built on an impenetrable harbor, the only great city state in medieval Europe that never built a city wall to hide behind.

Carnival, and masks, and history. Pastries and gnocchi and seafood. Above all, no cars, so no trucks, buses, cabs. Everything comes in and goes out by boat, people to potatoes.

Once, half a million people lived here. The Black Plague killed one third of them and they thought they were lucky, thanked the Virgin Mary for her mercy. Talk about a spin doctor. Now, only 60,000 people actually live in Venice, and they cater to twenty million tourists a year, who swarm from their cruise ships onto and into the narrow streets, stopping for six or eight hours on their way to the Greek Islands and Turkey. 

Riding on the public vaporetto that connects people to the six islands that make up the city of Venice, we pass by tourists staring out at us from the upper decks of their cruise ships, banging their tin cups on the rails. It's cold out in the harbor. We bundle up, ride to San Marco, catch the early morning walking tour of the area between San Marco Square and the Rialto Bridge. The guide takes us by Marco Polo's house. Marco Polo! His family became so wealthy from the China trade that he established, that they took their uncle's name, Emiliano, to refer to the super-wealthy. It is from Marco Polo's Uncle Emiliano that we get the word Million, for millionaire.

Tomorrow we'll go to the Rialto fish and vegetable market, then tour the Doge's Palace, and then we're kind of done. But we don't leave for Bologna until Wednesday, so we've got a day to fill. Might try to hit a concert in one of the churches tomorrow night. 

Meanwhile, this guy played really nice and mournful accordion on the island of Murano.


Post a Comment

<< Home