Sublime Pearl of the Adriatic

 Hail to the Ducal Palace by the 'vedutista', symbol of Venice, Antonio Canaletto 1697-1768,


Hail to the Ducal Palace by the ‘vedutista’, symbol of Venice, Antonio Canaletto 1697-1768,

 

Before visiting the Republic of Venice, I took from memory that the Florentine Américo Vespucci had baptized my country as Little Venice. While Venice was built on a delta in the lagoon of Veneta at the edge of the Adriatic Sea, Venezuela was a parallel universe, on Lake Maracaibo at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, where native huts rested precariously on piles driven in the mud of deep waters.Unlike Christopher Columbus’ surprise and associations between Venice and Venezuela, to my mind Venice had already been extremely romanticized and idealized before I actually saw her. I knew her through pictorial illustrations, unique paintings by Giovanni Antonio Canaletto and Francesco Guardi, through the majestic engravings of Antiquity by Giovanni Piranesi and the fantastic panoramic views of the English painter William Turner. In sum, I knew her through so many artistic and poetic accolades from the echo of Thomas Mann, Nietzsche, Goethe; as Venice had been exalted by Poe as Eliseo of the oceans; by Dickens as Queen of the seas; by Herzen as madness product of genius; by Mann as half snare, half fable; as the reverie of a mirage in a lagoon, an otherworldly fantasy, the improbable city of the dramatist Carlo Goldoni, through the eyes of her beloved ones, by those who watched through the passage of centuries with such ardor, despite all the environmental challenges of our times. I now see Venice holds its charm precisely in its own fragility. Venice is so undoubtedly incomparable. Just consider the testimony of its great monuments, ancient bridges and canals, 400 and 180 respectively, invested by the magic of great perseverance and talent, which makes it logically to have been able to access the deservedly noble title of La Serenissima.

As a painter , my great interest was to see at close range, and with a magnifying view, the soft sweet colors of oil paintings by Antonio Vivarini , Pisanello , Giovanni Bellini, Vittore Carpaccio, Jacopo Basano , Tiziano Vecelli, Palma il Vecchio, Jacopo il Furioso Tintoretto, Lorenzo Lotto, Paolo Veronese, and Giambattista Tiepolo–just to mention a few of the great among painters of Venice. There is nothing equal to the handling of paint, to the manipulation and alchemy of colors by the classic Venetian school, in its bittersweet characteristic spectrum that deepens the atmosphere and so generously suffusing human form as no other school has been able to. Its elegance and richness are intangible: one’s enjoyment is also unmatched. Everything in Venice speaks with a passionate and unique ancestral character. Similarly, so does its palatial architecture with a combination of various styles: the Byzantine , Muslim , Gothic, Palladian.  The latter  is denominated by the surname of the world famous Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (a Renaissance polyglot, translator of the canons of Greek and Roman antiquity) who disseminated this style throughout Europe: a legacy extended into the Neoclassical times of the 19th and 20th century.  And then, there is the exuberant style of the baroque as represented by Baldassare Longhena. Among so many things to talk about in such a short time, between such an abundance of exultation, there is still no way to do justice to Venice.Because of the physical limitations of my mother, we went to Venice for only three days; a visit that was supposed to be light. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Amadeus , within walking distance of the train station Santa Lucia from which we planned to continue on our way to Rome. The Hotel’s privileged location in the center of Venice, made it unique:  close to the Grand Canal, and a short walk to the major attractions of the Jewish Quarter, the Venice Casino, the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San Marco. The autumn season had fewer tourists, and many young people still enjoyed the outdoors, its many bridges, or socializing in large squares. On one occasion, we had a snack at the elegant Café Florian (open since the eighteenth century in the Piazza San Marco). Here, we were accompanied by the beautiful sound of an outdoors symphony orchestra. It was also the most expensive snack we had ever had, yet it was worth it, a truly unforgettable experience. Then we walked through the streets and labyrinthine alleyways to admire the intimate spaces and lush façades. We also had time to go by ‘vaporetto’ to the Venice Biennial: The 48th International Art Exhibition (1999) in the Giardini di Castello, located at the eastern part of the city, with a capacity of 88 pavilions, including the Pavilion of Venezuela. At the end, before our departure from Rome to Venezuela, while we waited, my mother asked for me to stand next to her; we faced a mirrored wall, and she said: this way we will always remember each other.Ricardo Morin 04/14/14

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