There are no words to describe Venice…and photos do not do ‘la serenissma’ justice…she’s a secret that needs to be felt in person. She must be approached with consideration and thoughtfulness - for she’s a tad elderly (but her age does not diminish her great vigour!) and she will reward you with so many beautiful things and leave you completely exhausted but fulfilled in a matter of a few days.
My recent trip to Italy took me to Venice (after 10 days in Tuscany… not too shabby either!) as I needed to feel the light and hear the sounds of this magical city that is unlike any other place on earth. Like with every vacation, my time away is to serve as a rest from the everyday and to recharge but, mostly, my trips to Europe are to collect and absorb as much as possible in order to use these memories, distilled and adapted, in my work as a designer.
If there is one colour to attribute to Venice, it is pink. The exterior walls of many buildings are bathed in pink hues - crumbling, patched, painted over, sun-bleached and light filled; the effect is breathtaking.
The way light plays with marble is something I draw on time and time again. This staircase at the Doge’s Palace made me stop in my steps. I try to recreate this light with tile, the use of skylights and reflective surfaces but it’s never quite the same. Marble has a fleshiness to it that is unparalleled by other materials.
There are so many masterpieces of art in this city that it is mind-boggling, but many of them are not in museums or galleries – they are in churches. We learned so much about Tintoretto, Canova, Tiepolo, Veronese, Titian and so many others, that our heads were spinning by the end of five days but we were still wanting more and left the city knowing we would come back to pick up where we left off. These artists worked in ridiculous conditions – cold, high up scaffolding and on their backs and one even fell off the scaffolding to his death, and the work they created is humbling as well as inspirational.
The architecture, of course, is stunning. Everywhere you look there are impossibly beautiful buildings – engineering head-scratchers really. "How did they think they could build that 400 years ago?!". But there are jewels tucked away, all over the city, you just need to get lost in the ‘calli’ (streets) a little. The repetition of these courtyard arches, for me, is poetry in form.
Though this isn’t a travel guide, my one suggestion (though I have many), for a visit to Venice is this: get lost. Don’t follow your google maps on your phone (am I the last person on earth who uses a paper map?!), look up, look down and end up in a dead end – because, I promise, that dead end will be lovely. I followed so many dead ends (and nearly ended up in the canal once or twice) that took me to a spot uninterrupted by mass tourist groups and found silence, peace and the joy of capturing something few others did.
Venice, for an artist, a designer, a lover of architecture, of food, of culture and history, of fashion and so much more. Venice, to me, is an absolute treasure chest and it must be discovered – over and over again.