It is a very, very long time ago that I went to Venice; we stayed just outside the city in a campsite maybe ten or so miles away. We went into the city each day and explored, wandered around trying not to spend too much money as we were poor students then. I had so wanted to go there, it seemed like a dream come true to actually visit. We had driven across France, had a couple of hours through Switzerland then dropped down to Veneto. Maybe I was too excited, maybe I had too high expectations, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind, but to be honest, I was disappointed. Whatever the magic of the place, it somehow eluded me… after a week or so, we crossed Italy to Florence which I absolutely loved.

Maybe I’ll go back to Venice one day and find the charm which others adore, but really… actually… there are many more places I’d prefer to visit first!

Here’s a part of a poem, the opening stanza, by John Hanmer, Baron Hanmer who was born in 1809… I have no pictures of Italy or Venice, so I’ve chosen a photo which reminds me of my memories of the city:

Approach To Venice On A November Day

Clear shines the sun, but yet the cloud is grey,
And the fresh breeze comes scented with the spray
Of the wild billow, that with thundering fall,
Broke its huge mass ‘gainst Malamocco’s wall;
Then bade its rider, ever fierce and free,
To Winter bear the homage of the sea.
On Styria’s peaks his gathering storms repose,
And shroud the giant on his couch of snows,
Ere yet descending through the howling air
He bends the pine, and strips the poplar bare,
Ere the tall cypress, ‘mid the naked scene,
‘Gainst the white tower shall rise with deeper green,
And the broad oxen, from the swelling Po,
To their warm stalls, and sheltering village go;
While houseless beggars in the biting cold
Sit numbed to sleep, and dream of feasts and gold.
By empty villas and by mouldering vines
Gleams the pale ray, that warms not though it shines;
Yet these but late their clustering grapes have shed,
To glad the living,—those are of the dead:
These still shall wake with Nature wakening,
And tint the landscape with the hues of spring.
They come no more, no more shall beauty’s hand
Strike the soft harp, in halls Palladio plann’d,
No more, last refuge of despairing pride,
Luxurious pomp a people’s fall shall hide.
But vaulted roofs with hollow sound reply,
When Brenta’s breezes sweep careering by,
And bear the leaves in gathering heaps to rest
At gates which hailed a monarch once their guest.
Alike the eagle’s wide-spread lineage bind
The hosts he sought, the realm he left behind;
And for the subjects of his sires, o’er them
The sword must hang, to guard the diadem
That crowns another—vanished race and fame,
Fit guest of Venice now, the Valois’ name.

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