Inside the church of San Sebastiano they are rehearsing for a concert. Otherwise we are totally alone. All around, in what surely must be one of the most beautiful interiors to be found in Venice, the paintings of Paolo Veronese, rich in colour, postively glow in the morning light. Here joy abounds in the splendour of textiles, the transparency of glass, the opalescence of gleaming marble in column, turret and tower, the fullness of figure, the whole a pageant of sixteenth century life.
|the somewhat unassuming facade of the church of San Sebastiano which belies its interior|
|the warm, redbrick frontage of the church of the Madonna dell' Orto in Tintoretto's parish|
Across the Grand Canal we revisit the Gothic masterpiece of the Madonna dell' Orto with its Greek marble columns in imitation of watered silk. This was Tintoretto's parish church, and here he is buried close to his vast and truly magnificent works of 'The Worship of the Golden Calf' and 'The Last Judgment' which fill the lofty chancel walls. But most wonderful for us, and of which we never tire, is the 'Presentation of the Virgin' over the Sacristy door with its pre-Redemption world cast in shadow whilst the Virgin child, Hope of Humanity, stands poised at the summit of a flight of steps, radiant against a Venetian sky. Again we are alone.
|one of the wonders of Renaissance Venice, and indeed the world, Santa Maria dei Miracoli|
|the approach to the church of the Redentore, Palladio's mathematical wonder, on the Giudecca|
No-one disturbs us either in the exquisite Santa Maria dei Miracoli or in the Scuola di Santa Maria del Carmine where, for €5, we are permitted to gaze with certain wonder at the wondrous ceiling in the upper salone painted in 1744 by Tiepolo. With a lightness of touch, and employing the shimmering pinks and blues so characteristic of his work, nevertheless the deep piety of this great eighteenth century artist reaches out to the observer some 250 years later. We cannot resist the purchase of a keepsake, a picture postcard, of 'Un angelo salva un operaio devoto alla Vergine'.
|a mediaeval archway, pre-dating the present building, in a quiet Venetian courtyard|
|the narrowest street in Venice, Calle Varisco, to be found in the Cannaregio district|
|a scene which is so quintessentially Venetian and yet one which remains largely unseen|
But in all of this there is a great sadness. Or so it is for us. It is a well known fact that the number of trippers, for such alas they are, now daily outnumbers the resident population. For Venice has become an acquistion on the tourist trail. A city to be ticked off today, for tomorrow will be Florence and the day after, Rome, before the flight home.
|a typical Venetian street scene which, away from the crowded tourist trail, stands deserted|
|a side canal, one of many, many similar, to be found beyond the reaches of the Grand Canal|
|a sixteenth century well-head in the Campo della Maddalena with today's washing set to dry|
With cameras clicking, posed pictures of each other, water bottles protruding from ubiquitous backpacks, these sightseers follow furled umbrellas from the Rialto to the Piazza San Marco plugged in to earphones through which a commentary is relayed, their only engagement to check a text message on a mobile telephone. Not a Baedeker in sight! Meanwhile, a mediaeval city of church, palace, scuole, calle, court and canal passes by. They look but they do not see.
|church and calle so closely connected in a city which can never be fully understood or known|
|the Porta della Carta dividing the Doge's Palace from the Cathedral church of Venice at evening|
Such is the paradox that this loveliest of all cities remains, for the most part, a beauty unseen. And as we wait for our bus under a darkening Tiepolo sky at the Piazzale Roma, we mourn the fact that within a few hours at The Accademia the Titian exhibition will open. And we shall be gone.
N.B. We shall hope to return to the Serenissima with a future post.