VENICE - VENETIANS HAVE FLOODED THE WORLD WITH ARTISTIC MASTERPIECES
From the look of it, you'd think Venice spent all its time primping. Bask in the glory of Grand Canal palaces, but make no mistake: this city's a powerhouse. Reasonable people might blanch at water approaching their doorsteps and flee at the first sign of acqua alta (high tide). But reason can’t compare to Venetian resolve. Instead of bailing out, Venetians have flooded the world with voluptuous Venetian-red paintings and wines, music, Marco Polo spice-route flavours, and bohemian-chic fashion. And they’re not done yet.
With the world’s most artistic masterpieces per square kilometre, you’d think the city would take it easy, maybe rest on its laurels. But Venice refuses to retire from the inspiration business. In narrow calli (alleyways), you’ll glimpse artisans hammering out shoes crested like lagoon birds, cooks whipping up four-star dishes on single-burner hotplates, and musicians lugging 18th-century cellos to riveting baroque concerts played with punk-rock bravado. Billionaire benefactors and cutting-edge biennales are filling up those ancient palazzi (palaces) with restored masterpieces and eyebrow-raising contemporary art and architecture, and back-alley galleries and artisan showrooms are springing up in their shadows.
Don’t go expecting to have the city to yourself. Even in the foot-stomping chill of January, Venice has its admirers. Venice remains a self-selecting city: it takes a certain imagination to forgo the convenience of cars and highways for slow boats and crooked calli. Sculptors, harpsichordists, sushi chefs and dreamers passing as accountants might end up bumping elbows over heaping plates of risotto di seppie (squid risotto) along scuffed wooden tables in authentic osterie (pub-restaurants). Judging by the crowd, you might think the Art Biennale must be happening – but no, that’s just an average Wednesday night in Venice.