“To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius.” – Alexander Herzen
This April I was fortunate enough to realise a long held dream of visiting Venice. We spent four nights there on a belated Silver Wedding Anniversary trip and were not disappointed. It is an enchanting city, we had glorious weather for April and saw almost everything we had on our wish list. We were booked into a lovely hotel very close to St Mark’s Square with a canalside room and an oblique view of the Bridge of Sighs from our window. Highlights included the amazing views over the islands and lagoon from the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore, the stunning golden mosaic interior of St Mark’s Basilica and enjoying the car free lifestyle using waterbuses, including for our trips to the islands of Murano and Burano. Finally, on the return flight to London, our plane circled high over the lagoon giving us excellent farewell views.
This lovely poem by Longfellow says it all…
White swan of cities, slumbering in thy nest
So wonderfully built among the reeds
Of the lagoon, that fences thee and feeds,
As sayeth thy old historian and thy guest!
White water-lily, cradled and caressed
By ocean streams, and from the silt and weeds
Lifting thy golden filaments and seeds.
Thy sun-illumined spires, thy crown and crest!
White phantom city, whose untrodden streets
Are rivers, and whose pavements are the shifting
Shadows of palaces and strips of sky;
I wait to see thee vanish like the fleets
Seen in mirage, or towers of cloud uplifting
In air their unsubstantial masonry.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
An American poet, teacher and translator born in Portland, Maine. Having studied and taught in Europe and the USA he eventually retired from teaching to focus on writing. His famous works include The Song of Hiawatha, and he was the first American to translate Dante’s Divine Comedy. His poems often tell stories from myth and legend and he was the most popular American poet of his day.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)
An English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker born in Covent Garden, London. He was considered a controversial figure in his day in both technique and subject matter, but is now regarded as the artist who popularised landscape painting and is commonly known as “the painter of light”. His work is regarded as a forerunner of Impressionism. Although his oil paintings are most well known Turner is also one of the masters of British watercolour landscape painting. Turner travelled widely in the UK and Europe, initially to France, to study in Paris and Switzerland, as well as making many visits to Venice. In later years he became increasingly known for his eccentricity. Turner’s last words were said to have been: “The sun is God” and he is buried, at his request, in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.