Tuesday 25 March 2014

Buon Compleanno, Venezia!

Any excuse for a Venetian picture on this blog - and today's excuse is the 1,593rd birthday of the city. For it was on this day, according to tradition, in the year 421, at the stroke of noon, that Venice was founded, by the consecration of the church of San Giacomo di Rialto (above).
 It's a funny little church, dark inside, awkwardly shaped and - by Venetian standards, which are of course very high - not particularly interesting. But it does, undeniably, feel very old. Unlike most of the lesser Venetian churches, it is seldom quiet, being placed as it is hard by the Rialto, with its markets and its thronged streets lined with tourist tat and tourist tratts. The Gothic portico outside - once a common feature of Venetian churches, now a rare survival - was originally used by bankers and money changers, heedless of the views of Jesus on the subject. From here were issued some of the world's first bills of exchange, laying the foundations for Venice's burgeoning wealth. And as its wealth increased, so did the beauty of the city. It doesn't seem to work like that these days, does it?

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