Sometimes you have to believe in destiny, things around you from the past might be a little sign that takes you to some place later, at least this occurred to me. Since I was a young man I have come across 2 things that impressed me about Venice, one is the spectacular Venetian architecture and mansions, and the second one, is one of the most beautiful, intelligent and legendary woman, Veronica Franco, who has been a multi-talented poetess that attracted many men back in her time in 16th century.
I was always fascinated by the story of this remarkable Venetian lady since I saw the movie that portrait about her life – ‘The dangerous beauty’, many years ago, not simply about her impeccable look that demonstrated the typical Venetian glamour from grooming, make-up to the flamboyant dresses and jewelry, but more importantly is about her mind, intelligence and tenacity that intrigues me a lot. If you are interested with Venetian history, you may probably know that this beautiful lady was not only a poet, but also a courtesan, which means in order to make a living (women dated back then didn’t have too much career options like present days), she made a sacrifice to trade her body by prostituting for financial support in return, went through traumatic love life without the love of her life to get marry to, underwent insults and humiliations, at the same time, bearing a strong mind and willingness of learning, added valued to herself by studying hard from languages to dancing and playing musical instruments, from etiquette to diplomacy, personal grooming to enjoying pleasure; her diligent, bravery and tenacity, later turns her into one of the most adored woman in Venice, with her charms that encircled herself around with the elites, makes the powerful noble men that falls under her charm. I guess that is one of the biggest motivation that takes me to Venice finally, for my very first visit to this city of canals.
The day upon my arrival in such a sunny afternoon, walking across the crowded plaza in front of the Santa Lucia train station feels like walking into a carnival, shoving with tourists from everywhere of the world and the local hawkers, but having a light lunch by the Grand Canal with the light breeze, that instantly ease me from the fatigue and sweat from such a hot summer day (which I didn’t really expect that Venice can be that hot too!) I possibly believe everyone loves to see the iconic Venetian water transport – the Gondola, to sail along the canal, the postcard-like scene that finally comes to real when seeing that in person.
As mentioned earlier about courtesan, they are once making an impact also history to Venice as they represents the art-of-living, beauty and life indulgence for rich and famous dated back in Renaissance, to revisit the bygone beauty and Venetian allure, one can make a visit to the landmark, Ponte delle Tette, a legendary bridge for courtesans (as well as prostitutes dated back in 15th century) going topless to attract their clients (of course there’s no such display allowed nowadays), but it’s relatively interesting to feel the indulgence and debauchery of the past as part of the Venetian culture and history.
Another significant landmark, The Rialto bridge, is another place that one should visit, one of the 4 bridges that built over the Grand Canal, this beautiful bridge is one of the oldest bridge with shops built along both side of it since early 15th century, the architectural details of this bridge is absolutely stunning and delicate, having the artistic notion from the Renaissance that speaks the flourishing of art and splendor. Just in case you are feeling tired, why not stop-by to one of the café or restaurant on either side of the Grand Canal there? Rialto is possibly one of the spot to see and to be seen over a glass of cocktail or a gelato, and certainly, it could be a very relaxing afternoon.
Take a water-bus ride to the heart of the city, the busiest Piazza San Marco, a large and prominent square that surrounded with a couple of key landmarks and historic museums that draws up thousands of people passing by, or queuing up in this plaza almost everyday. If you have prepared the patience to line-up in a long queue for seeing some magnificent historic work, Bascilica di San Marco and St Mark’s Campanile could be an ideal place to visit, for those who would rather use their time more wisely without shoving with tourist in such a long line, still, would like to witness the bygone glory of the Venetian history, the Doge’s Palace will certainly be a wonderful place to go, have a look with the luxuriously decorated apartments, the spectacular Sala del Senato with the delicate and impressive frescoes and gilded details contrasting with the dark wood interior, a reflection of power and nobility of the heyday Venice.
Don’t forget to have a look with the old prison right next to the palace, take a look and experience the difference between heaven and hell, a subtle message about ‘one big mistake can turn one’s life upside down’. My personal favorite of the Doge’s Palace is the ‘Scala dei Giganti’ (the Giant’s staircase) in the courtyard, the beautiful ivory staircase with the statues of Mars and Neptune on both side of the top end, makes this one of the most spectacular piece of architectural work of Renaissance, the details from each step are remarkably craved and well-preserved, enables people around the world to appreciate this one of the kind work-of-art within this beautiful property.
To wrap up for the day in Venice, why not take advantage of this dream-like scenery, to sit down at the open-air café on Piazza San Marco, enjoy a cup of coffee with the live jazz music performance overseeing the huge historic square, having the bright Venetian sunlight and sea breeze by the water.
You can create your very own beautiful Venetian story with some fantasies, and do share with me how will you spend your day if you are in Venice, and where are your favorite place to visit.