Springtime in Venice

Venice Travel Blog

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Where did the "M" and the "A" go?
Marcel Proust once recalled, “When I went to Venice, I discovered that my dream had become--incredibly, but quite simply--my address.” For one week in late March, I was fortunate enough to make such Venetian dreams my address too. From March 17th through March 25th, the English department conducted a “Literary Tour of Venice,” hosted by the department’s own John Drury. While I have certainly had my fair share of spring breaks during my academic career, these have rarely yielded anything more interesting than a sun burn. This spring break though would be different. This time Venice was calling.

My first impression of Venice was from the cabin of the vaporetti (waterbus) that was transporting the 16 members of UC’s tour group from the airport to our lodgings at the Pensione Bucintoro.
Words of wisdom from an Italian window sill.
As we approached, Venice slowly, teasingly revealed itself to us through the layers of fog resting on the lagoon. A visitor to Venice needs to spend very little time there before realizing that this city fully realizes the allure that it holds for millions. As we made the short walk from the waterbus dock to our hotel, the members of our Literary Venice Tour Group were greeted by the sounds of Venetian street musicians, scoring our visit as if it were a scene out of a movie.

Our hotel was located just off of the Grand Canal, a mere hop and skip away from the Arsenal. Each morning offered the same magnificent view that inspired great works of art by the likes of John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, and Frank Duveneck. On Sunday morning, this view was accompanied by sounds of an entire chorus of church bells which seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.
The cat and the canary, from an Italian alleyway.
The brief week that my fellow Literary Tourists and I were able to spend in Venice was filled with similarly Romantic situations. Strolling through the crowded Piazza San Marco as a five piece band played American show tunes in the background, I could not help pinching myself.

Contemporary Venice is particularly fascinating in that it has become almost completely modernized, but not at the expense of the city’s physical and cultural touchstones. Venice remains Europe’s largest car-free area, a fact aided and abetted by the complex system of canals that wind their way through the city. All travel is conducted either on foot or by boat. The system of waterbuses, in particular, makes travel quick and efficient within the city, despite the lack of cars and bikes.
Venice has been able to provide its residents with all of the conveniences of the modern world without sacrificing its historical integrity. In fact, internet cafés now line the same avenues that Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and Robert Browning once walked.

Study tours prove to be such unique opportunities in large part because of the personalities that make up the group. Our particular group was lucky enough to have John Drury as our guide. A frequent visitor to Venice, John has toured the city extensively and has captured a great number of his previous Venetian experiences in several books of poetry. John was on intimate terms with virtually every aspect of the city. His knowledge and insight proved to be the heart and soul of the tour.

I’m not sure what kind of dream Venice was for Proust. For me, it was a dream of canary yellow and mint green plaster, a sherbet colored cityscape dreamily reflected by the canals in almost every direction. The city and its mystique have inspired countless works of art through the centuries. There is little wonder why Venice continues to capture the imagination of millions. I think it is safe to say that its mystique has captured 16 others!
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Where did the M and the A go?
Where did the "M" and the "A" go?
Words of wisdom from an Italian wi…
Words of wisdom from an Italian w…
The cat and the canary, from an It…
The cat and the canary, from an I…
The final resting place of Ezra Po…
The final resting place of Ezra P…
Venician dreams.
Venician dreams.
Floating through a city of dreams.…
Floating through a city of dreams…
Venice, 2005. Note my man-purse.
Venice, 2005. Note my man-purse.
A Life Less Ordinary.
A Life Less Ordinary.
Me in Venice... about to dash into…
Me in Venice... about to dash int…
The group in the Piazza di San Mar…
The group in the Piazza di San Ma…
Brodsky.
Brodsky.
Italian rooftops.
Italian rooftops.
Venices Arsenal.
Venice's Arsenal.
Venice (with the Piazza San Marco …
Venice (with the Piazza San Marco…
The Basilica of St. Mark.
The Basilica of St. Mark.
This was the view from my room in …
This was the view from my room in…
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photo by: asturjimmy