An impromptu trip to Venice, in lieu of the Architecture Biennale was just the apt thing to do after my stay in Kochi,India which is also known as Venice of the east. This trip had various agendas, the foremost being the Biennale, followed by comparisons to its so called Indian counterpart and reliving memories from a childhood visit to Venice, more than a decade ago. However, the city hasnt changed, not in the last 15 years and probably not even in the last century. The only change is in the numer of tourists, which has gone up to over 20 million a year.
Boarding the Vaporetto / Water Taxi, i made my way through a choppy sea all huddled up and landed at Venice Port, with just a faint image of the clock tower in the distance. As I walked on the cobbled street leading up to the magnificent St Marks Square, the fog started to clear out and the historical facade started to give subtle glimpses. The magical mist and the prefect setting coaxed me into sitting down for dinner and Italian coffee, before I headed to my hotel.
After a good nights sleep, I walked out into a clear morning. Light peeking in from the narrow openings at the end of the lanes, heavy movements of tour groups along the port and gondola riders pleading you to take a ride, was just the flavor of Venice I was looking for. This was to be my morning walk route for the next 4 days as I made way to the Biennale sites and pavilions.
The biennale was an eye opener of sorts and a must visit for every person even remotely interested in Architecture. However, its scale and detail calls for a separate post and so getting back to Venice for now, the canals, streets and bridges created the most intriguing urban network. This fascinating fabric called me to surrender myself and allow it to take me wanderlusting through the streets for more. The ancient docks were a treat to the eyes as they represented Venezian skill and importance in the medieval times.
The last morning, once again turned misty and surreal as Venice seemed to literally be sandwiched between the clouds and the sea. Felling privileged to have experienced this heavenly atmostphere, i spent half the day meandering through the labyrinth aimlessly and drifted towards the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. A tiny Venetian Villa, with the most endearing character was home to some of the most notable works of Contemporary Art of the last century. A world of modernity housed within an mid century villa, amidst an ancient city was quite an experience.
The sights of the moonlit Rialto Bridge, the old Venetian palaces and the masquerade costumes hanging in the shops were reminding me of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ and lessons at school. My mind started imaging the characters playing their parts on that very ground and re-assured me that I was an attentive student at school. The last night at Venice was spent consoling myself about the fact that I had to leave, but with the promise that I would try and attend more such Biennales and in turn visit Venice.
Copyright Abhimanyu Prakash