With the world collapsing about us, Venice has become a living metaphor: every rising flood, every falling brick is an echo of some distant cataclysm. But each of the city’s succeeding generations has been able to create something magnificent out of the ruins they inherited.
Francesco da Mosta, the scion of an old Venice family, has made himself a Virgil to our Dante, showing us around his beloved city and letting us experience it through his sharpened senses. Francesco’s Venice inspired Mary and me to renew our acquaintance with this seminal scattering of islands that has sired so much of what we call culture. (It was also the birthplace of modern banking, but that’s another story.)
With the help of those who know the city well, in less than a week we were able to see (and eat) a surprising variety of things worth sharing. Here are some of them:
Don’t sigh for me, bridge of Venice Our first view from the Piazza San Marco vaparetto stop made us wonder if we had accidentally booked a holiday in Disneyland or Vegas.
Hotel Ca’ Dei Conti: getting there is half the battle Careful examination of a really good map (such as the Cartographia Venice 1:5500) could save you a hundred quid.
Ezra Pound and Jimmy Carter slept here (but not together) Our first night’s dinner at Antica Locanda Montin.
Following the horses: Cattedrale San Marco How its architectural form gave birth to surround sound.
“Pietro Panizzolo” Osteria da Carla Our first lunch: from the Piazza San Marco, just a few steps and half a century away.
A Phoenix too Frequent: La Fenice The opera house, like the city itself, keeps rising from its ashes.
Alle Testiere There may well have been a party of celebrities at the next table, but they didn‘t introduce themselves.
Chiesa degli Scalzi The mendicant order of the Barefoot Carmelites live lives of self-denial in the midst of monumental splendour.
Byronic echoes: Trattoria Ca’ D’Oro “Alla Vendova” Top marks for price/quality ratio.
Venetian Chutzpa When Veronese was summoned before the inquisition for adding “buffoons, drunkards, Germans, dwarfs, and the like fooleries” to his painting of the Last Supper, he changed the name rather than the picture.
Fish and chips Italian style: Osteria Vecio Fritolin . . . at well over twice the price, but worth it.
Slumming, Venetian style: Osteria Dalla Marisa A working class eatery offering one of the best dining experiences in Venice.