Mediterranean Brilliance

Mediterranean brilliance hit me like a bolt of lightning; the whole of human life was enacted on a single, fabulous, public stage against a careless backdrop of thousands of years of sublime art. Colours, foods, markets, clothing, gestures, language: everything seemed more refined, more vivid, more vibrant…

(Cees Nooteboom)

Sun-Drenched

I don’t know about you but at around this time of the year, I invariably reach the point when I could murder for sunshine, flowers and the ability to go out without a coat.

(Not to mention it’s Monday.)

So what we need right now is a little sunshine:

Wishing you all a happy sunny Monday! (Click on the images to enlarge.)

A Petrarch Sonnet (Venice Balcony at Night)

A few weeks ago, when I was writing about Egyptian poetry, I made the point that reading poetry in translation is a deceptive exercise since you’re not reading the same poem that poet had, in fact, penned. You might like the translation but quite possibly would not like the original or vice versa. A sonnet by Petrarch today in two different English translations will serve to illustrate the same point… and the Venetian balcony at night will serve to illustrate the sonnet.

Un soneto de Petrarca (Un balcón en Venecia por la noche)

Hace unas semanas, cuando escribió sobre la poesía egipcia, he señalado que leer poesía en traducción es un ejercicio engañoso, porque no estás leyendo el poema que el poeta, de hecho, había escrito. Así que te puede gustar la traducción, pero lo original no, y viceversa. Hoy un soneto de Petrarca con dos traducciones ingleses servirá para ilustrar la misma idea… y el balcón de Venecia servirá para ilustrar el poema. El texto original italiano está abajo de los versiones ingleses si quieres leerlo – no hay que hablar italiano para apreciar la cadencia bella del idioma de Petrarca. (También puedes encontrar un enlace abajo para la traducción española.)

Continue reading “A Petrarch Sonnet (Venice Balcony at Night)”

Venice According to Canaletto: The Doge’s Palace (Then & Now)

Venice, the ultimate tourist destination, was already popular as far back as the 16th and 17th century: it was one of the obligatory stops on the so-called Grand Tour, when wealthy young men – principally English – travelled for a few years in Europe to complete their education. The Grand Tour was, in a manner of speaking, a posher and lengthier forerunner of the modern gap year. Or – if we’re less charitable – of the package holiday. In any case, the Grand Tourists invariably wound up in Italy; and we owe them a number of varyingly entertaining travel accounts as well as far too many paintings of young Englishmen posing in togas in front of well-known Italian landmarks.

Continue reading “Venice According to Canaletto: The Doge’s Palace (Then & Now)”

The Gruesome News from Famagusta

The two hundred galleys of the Holy League – Venice, the Spanish Empire, Genoa, the Papacy, the Knights of St John and sundry smaller states on the Mediterranean seaboard – were sailing south on the Ionian Sea in battle order when a small brigantine passed them: a Venetian ship from Crete carrying the news that the town of Famagusta, the last stronghold of the Republic of Venice on Cyprus, fell to the Turks.

The date was 4 October 1571, three days before the Battle of Lepanto.

Continue reading “The Gruesome News from Famagusta”

The Doors of Venice

I wrote the weekly photo prompt post this week for Bloggers World, and as luck would have it, I was invited to write it on the subject of doors. Or entrances. Exits and gates. The means of leaving and entering enclosed spaces, basically. Owing to the limitations on that forum, I was only allowed to share one door to play the part of the challenge prompt.

So here come a few more doors, constituting my reply to the weekly photo challenge by Bloggers World and being this Sunday’s miscellany.

I should re-brand this blog Waterblogged: Dry Thoughts On Damp Venice the rate I’m going.

The Bridge of Sighs

I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs,
A palace and a prison on each hand.

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV. by Lord Byron

P1010832 View from Bridge of Sighs reduced
View from the Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs towards the Ponte della Paglia with the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance. To the left, the New Prison, to the right, the Doge’s Palace.

I blush to admit it here but before I read City of Fortune, before I stood on the Bridge of Sighs myself, looking out at the view towards St Mark’s Basin, I used to be under the impression that the Bridge of Sighs in Venice had to do with sighing lovers, like some sort of a Juliette’s balcony. In fact, the Bridge of Sighs connects the Doge’s Palace to the new prisons on the other side of the canal and the sighing was done by the condemned men as they were led across the bridge, this being their last glimpse of the views of Venice.

Continue reading “The Bridge of Sighs”

A Take on the Column

A Service Message

As you might or might not have noticed, for reasons too tedious to go into here Waterblogged moved house and this is where it’s going to live from now on.

From your point of view, I hope this means that the site will load ever so much faster, even if I put photos on it… From my point of view, hopefully it means that I can spend my time blogging rather than fixing endless software problems.

For the moment the old site is still up with loads of links still pointing to it which I will fix bit by bit before taking it down. But it’s not being updated anymore. I tried to make this site look similar to the old one and in the end, I think it actually looks better. You’re welcome to disagree. 🙂

Normal service will resume here tomorrow with the Mediterranean Miscellany but in the meantime it occurred to me it would be a good idea to find out if your subscriptions did in fact safely transfer with the blog and is there actually anybody reading this, so…

…I thought maybe we could have a caption contest!

A Take on the Column

Amateur photographers say that it’s impossible to take a good picture of a column. Viewing the results of numerous attempts I made on Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square, I have to agree. Nevertheless, recently in Venice I managed to take this photo:

P1010702 reduced.jpg

Any ideas for a caption, please leave a comment.

The Dazzling Chandeliers of Venice

Well known fact: staring into the sun will dazzle your eyes. And worse: as Galileo Galilei found out to his cost, if you do it often enough and for long enough, it’ll blind you. Staring at a chandelier doesn’t quite do that – although, depending on the chandelier, it might well dazzle you.

Murano glass chandeliers from the fancy palazzos of Venice:

IMG_3094.jpg

Continue reading “The Dazzling Chandeliers of Venice”

The Horses of St Mark’s Basilica

Apologies for being a day late with the Mediterranean Miscellany but I was on holiday – in the Mediterranean (of course).

So today: Venice, a fantastic city with loads of history, since I just came back from there.

If you ever go to Venice, don’t begrudge the 5-euro entry fee to the loggia of San Marco (the church itself is free). From this loggia the Doge and Petrarch watched the tournaments held in celebration after Venice had successfully quelled a rebellion, the so-called Revolt of St Titus, in Crete in 1364. And the view over St Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace and the seafront is indeed delightful but the most memorable thing up there is…

Continue reading “The Horses of St Mark’s Basilica”