domenica 13 aprile 2014



"The state of Venice existed Thirteen Hundred and Seventy-six years, from
the first establishment of a consular government on the island of the
Rialto to the moment when the General-in-chief of the French army of Italy pronounced the
Venetian republic a thing of the past.
 Of this period, Two Hundred and
Seventy-six years [ "Power of the Doges."] were
passed in a nominal subjection to the cities of old Venetia, especially
to Padua, and in an agitated form of democracy, of which the executive
appears to have been entrusted to tribunes, chosen, one by the inhabitants of each
of the principal islands.
For six hundred years,  during which the power of Venice was
continually on the increase, her government was an elective monarchy,
her King or doge possessing, in early times at least, as much
independent authority as any other European sovereign, but an authority
gradually subjected to limitation, and shortened almost daily of its
prerogatives, while it increased in a spectral and incapable
The final government of the nobles, under the image of a
king, lasted for five hundred years, during which Venice reaped the
fruits of her former energies, consumed them,--and expired."
from "The stones of Venice" by John Ruskin


The Campanile was begun in 1888 under Doge Pietro Tribuno and rebuilt several times in the 12th to 14th century. It stands on the pre-existing foundations of a Roman watchtower. Several architects took part in the construction, the most important being Ncolò Barattieri (1180) and Montagnana (1329). In 1489 the Campanile was struck by a lightning. The old bell chamber was burned out and had to be completely rebuilt in its present style by Bartolomeo Bon from 1511 to 1514.

From the top of the tower it is possible to get a wonderful view of the forest of roofs, chimneys and steeples as well as the variety of squares, streets and bridges below.

An illustrious visitor to the tower was Galileo Galilei. In 1609 from the belfry Galileo demonstrated the wonders of the telescope to the rulers of the Republic.

The Campanile consists of a solid square brick shaft (12 meters wide and 49.5 meters high  (half the total height of 98.6 meters) with pilaster strips. Set on the belfry is a large cube serving as a base for the pyramidal spire topped by a gilded copper angel.

It was struck several times by lightning and rocked by earthquakes, but it survived for centuries. Unfortunately on 4 July 1902 it collapsed in a pile of rubble. There no human victims and the nearby Libreria was only slightly damaged.  The news of the collapse went round the world immediately. That very evening the Venice City Council resolved that the campanile should be rebuilt "where it was and as it was". Nine years later, on 25 April 1912 the new campanile was officially open.



It was begun in the IX century, after the translation of the body of St. Mark from Alexandria and rebuilt after a fire in the X century. The present building belongs to the second half of the XI century. It is a centrally planned construction, surrounded on three sides by a narthex. The Facade containing Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic elements, is divided in two by a gallery, in the centre of which are the Four Horses in bronze transported here from the Hippodrome at Byzantium in 1204.


During the period of the Republic, it represented the political and religious center, as Rialto did for commerce: now it is the official symbol of Venice's beauty. In the year 1000 it was a garden divided in the centre by the Batario Canal with St. Marrk's Basilica on one side and the Church of S. Geminiano on the other. Doge S. Ziani enlarged it to its present size, filled in the canal and rebuilt S.Geminiano at a point farther back. Gradually it was surrounded by houses for the chaplains of St. Mark's and palaces for the Procurators and state magistrates with representative functions. Hence derived the name Procuratie.   


The building, rectangular in shape, was begun in the in the IX century. It had probably the typical structure for that time: crenellated walls with moats and drawbridges.   There was a tower at each corner. The last remnant may probably be seen at the left of the Porta della Carta. It was renovated in 917 by Doge Pietro Orseolo I.It was extended by Doge Sebastiano Ziani in 1173, who gave the building a Byzantine form appearance with loggias and porticoes. In subsequent centuries (14th - 16th century) this Byzantine building was replaced by by the superb construction we admire today.
The architecture and internal decoration was destroyed many times by fire. In 1483 a huge fire destroyed the side of he palace overlooking the canal.  Other huge fires took place in 1547 and 1577, when many wonderful paintings disappeared. The reconstruction respected the original Gothic style.

The columns of the portico sustain 38 finely carved capitals. The wall above is lightened by pink and white marble bricks set in patterns of rhombi and crosses.

The bridge of sighs



The fascinating atmosphere of Venice derives above all by its canals and by the gondolas, which were for many centuries the  chief means of transportation. The gondolas are rowing boats with a flat bottom. A gondola is eleven meters long and weighs 600 kg. The "gondoliere" rows with a forward stroke, followed by a backward stroke for compensation purpose.



 The Grand Canal is the main Street in the City and one of the most characteristic in the world.



Palazzo Grassi



Punta della Dogana was the place in which goods arriving by sea were brought out of bond.

In 1630 there was a terrible plague which caused 82.000 deaths in the city. Through the Senate the exhausted city made a solemn vow to to build a Church devoted to Santa Maria della Salute, if the plague ceased. This happened in 1631 and the Church was built to a design of Baldassarre Longhena.  


The Giudecca Island is separate from the central islands of Venice by the Giudecca Canal.In this Island there is the Curch of the Redentore (Redeemer). It is one of Palladio's major works and was built to the glory of the Redeemer for the termination of the plague of 1576. 


The bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava


Carnival really came into his own in the eighteenth century. Europe regarded Venice as a kind of licentious, magical capital. A strange crowd of fire-eaters, tumblers, charlatans, sellers of miraulous potions, and wild animal tamers appeared on the canals, in the little squares, and on the bridges. The narrow streets were packed with a motley throng, dressed in all colurs of the rainbow. The use of the mask was predominant. Made equal bythe palid and meaningful expression of the bauta, both the great of the earth and the poor could forget the strict social barriers and enjoy themselves freely as they could never have done with the uncovered faces.  What was the bauta? The dictionaries give the following definition: “Costume used in Venice, consisting of a black silk cloak with a hood, on top of which a three-cornered hat was worn, and of a black mask which left the lower part of the face uncovered”.

An episode that occurred in 1792 gives an extreme idea  of the hedonist myth attached to euighteenth-century Venice.  Doge Francesco Loredan had died , but his death was not anounced publicly, in order not to disrupt the festive atmosphere in the city. The bauta was reigning supreme; why replace it with the mourning trapping of a funeral?

These times have gone forever. After the fall of the Most Serene Republicand the arrival of Austrian Imperial rule , carnival lived a few moments of its former glory, but its decline was inevitable.

La bauta (in italiano bautta)

Arlecchino è la maschera per eccellenza del carnevale veneziano

"Il Ridotto" della scuola di Pietro Longhi

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