The morning is leisurely. We have decided to go into Venezia in the early afternoon, and have dinner there tonight. After yesterday’s slow transit, we are back to our original plan of driving to Mestre, parking and taking the train. But for once the Italian road signs, normally so good, let us down: we can’t find the train station, while instead there are lots of signs for Venezia, and so we drive across the causeway. We park, and discover that there is a vaporetto stop right at the parking lot, which is at the top end of the Canal Grande, so we head down the canal, passing quickly from the non-magical modern Venezia into La Serenissima, that most beautiful of cities. We feel so lucky to have always, till now, come to Venezia by boat right to San Marco (even if the boat was a bit overcrowded).
San Polo: New Discoveries
The vaporetto deposits us at the Rialto, and we head into the San Polo quarter, a district we have never explored. We walk through the streets, not knowing where we are, but not caring. Everywhere, we see the work of the INSULA, the authority that is, finally, taking steps to deal with the acqua alta, by rebuilding the canal fronts and raising those in the lower areas to a tide level of 120 centimetres. They estimate that this will reduce the number of occurrences of acqua alta in Piazza San Marco from 220 annually to 5. As we learn to recognize what the rebuilt canal fronts look like, we realize that a lot of work has already been accomplished since the project began last year. Somebody must have learned something from the disaster of rebuilding La Fenice. We didn’t get to 1 of the churches on my agenda yesterday, the Redentore, another work by Palladio, located on the island of Giudecca. Yet another church built to commemorate the end of the plague, this one in 1576, during which over 1/3 of Venezia’s population died, including the artist Tiziano. Greg is more interested in just strolling, so I leave him to San Polo and take the vaporetto to the Giudecca, where few tourists ever head. Not only am I rewarded with the magnificent Redentore, full of Tintorettos and Bassanos, but the view back to Piazza San Marco is spectacular. The church is magnificent, its space perfectly proportioned, and on the fondamenta outside the INSULA is hard at work, giving me hope that Venezia may truly yet be saved.
When I head back to San Marco to meet Greg as planned, I drag him back to the Giudecca, to a quiet cafe on the fondamenta, and we sit with a few Venetians, listening to them gossip and tease each other, all of us enjoying a late afternoon rest, basking in the brilliant sunshine and drinking in this spectacular view of Venezia.