These fortified walls in Venice form part of the defence of the old Arsenal, where the shipyards and armouries were located. In those days its power and wealth came from its ships and its ability to control trade in the Mediterranean as well as the trading routes to the East.
Having wandered round most of Venice, where being islands seemed to be protection enough, it was surprising to come across such solid defences. It was even more mind-blowing to realise they enclosed an old harbour…
The wall really made me think about Venice’s history and what was important to its people.
The architect who designed this church in Venice (Chiesa di San Vidal) tried to hide the building behind it, but ordinary life goes on behind the façade. There’s an ice cream shop doing brisk business, and the apartments above the shop seem to have no relation to the huge church window on the façade.
So it is everywhere. Religious or secular, business or personal, male or female, gay or straight. No matter how impressive the façade, real life goes on behind it if you look. It has to.
I was in Italy on business this week and as I was flying in and out of Venice airport had the chance to spend a half-day in Venice. It was foggy and damp, but still enjoyable to walk around for a while. While I was there I stumbled on the gondola maintenance yard. It had to be there in Venice somewhere, but I’d never seen it before. It was clearly a place that had been there for a very long time – since the 17th century, apparently.