I’ve always had the intention of blogging actively about my travels. As to why that noble intention hasn’t translated into a regular series of travel posts . . . well, I can name any number of excuses: work, acedia, bubonic plague, global warming, etc. (All right, scratch the third one, and I profess a contrarian’s views when it comes to the fourth. But we’ll let the first two stand.)
I haven’t given up entirely on the whole enterprise though, so let’s have another crack at it – this time with a brief account of my November 2011 walk through the back streets of Castello in Venice.
I do apologise for the poor quality of my pictures – the result of a a fatal marriage between a no-talent photographer and an old point-and-shoot camera that was pretty much on its last legs (lens issues, faulty stabilisation feature, the works). All the same, if they’ve succeeded in creating a sense of place then they will have served their purpose.
Our afternoon stroll starts with a short vaporetto ride to the San Zaccaria stop, on the Riva degli Schiavoni. If you’re coming from further down the Grand Canal (as I have), there are some great views to be had of the famous buildings clustered around the Piazza San Marco and the Piazzetta near the waterfront.
No sweeping shots of the Riva degli Schiavoni in this batch, as it’s only the starting point of our walk. (I’ll have a separate post about it in due course, time and energy permitting.) For fellow anime fans, it’s worth nothing that this long, curving promenade – or, to be precise, its equivalent in the fictional city of Neo-Venezia – is where one might find Aria Company’s homely HQ.
Not far from the vaporetto stop is another landmark from the world of the ARIA anime series: the fabled Hotel Danieli (which inspired the architecture of Himeya’s main building).
Sadly, Venice – or this part of Venice at least – isn’t as unspoilt as one might hope. Turn around and you’re likely to find one of these floating monstrosities blocking your view of the lagoon.
Tucked behind the row of buildings fronting the Riva degli Schiavoni is the church of San Zaccaria, rising proudly above the small square that bears its name.
A short walk from the square brings us to the curving Fondamenta dell’Osmarin. At the end of this pathway which flanks a narrow canal, we turn left to cross a bridge to the other side, then right to cross another bridge spanning a wider waterway known as the Rio dei Greci. As we make our way over the second bridge, look to your right for a view of the church of San Giorgio dei Greci and its leaning bell tower.
Heading further into the heart of Castello, we will in due course turn and head in a westerly direction over the same canal we crossed earlier, but at a point farther away from the Riva degli Schiavoni. Look left and you’ll catch another glimpse of San Giorgio’s tilting campanile.
Turn around and look back the way we’ve come. At the end of the square is the church of San Lorenzo, where Marco Polo is rumoured to have been buried (though at least one other church also lays claim to the distinction).
A short hop across the bridge and a corner turn takes us into the lovely Borgoloco San Lorenzo. Blissfully quiet at the time of my visit, with almost no trace of the present age to mar the scene (save for a few wires and electrical fixtures), one might find it easy to forget what century it is.
Not far from this point is a large square – well, large by Venetian standards – named after and dominated by the church of Santa Maria Formosa.
A leisurely stroll from the campo, on a route that – this being Venice – inevitably involves crossing yet another canal, eventually brings us to the end of our journey. Towering above the surrounding area is the majestic brick church dedicated to Santi Giovanni e Paolo, also known locally as San Zanipolo.