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THE LEANING TOWER OF VENICE

The Crystal Serenity sailed out of Venice on August 25th, slipping by architectural masterpieces all bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. On board to give lectures, I took the photo from the Promenade Deck of the ship, as it crossed the intersection of St. Mark’s Basin with the Grand Canal. The view shows the dome and spires of the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute. A tower in the background is seen leaning subtly in the manner of many others in Venice, including the Bell Tower of the Greek Church seen in an earlier post, VIVALDI, THE OSPEDALE, AND THE LEANING STEEPLE.

It is ironic that the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute, one of the prominent gems of Venetian religious architecture, owes its existence to a terrifying epidemic that struck during the Italian Baroque Period. The Bubonic Plague had been ravaging Venice, and by 1630, when it wiped out a third of Venice’s estimated population of 150,000, the political leaders of the city made a pledge to God: if He would stop the plague, they would show their gratitude by building a defining edifice to honor the Virgin Mary. And indeed, as the plague subsided, the authorities awarded architect Baldassare Longhena the commission to build a great basilica at the tip of Dosuro, on land gained by driving over 1.5 million pylons into the swamp. The construction continued for 58 years, its architect having passed away six years before the church’s completion in 1688. Venetian scenes like the one in the photograph, with its canal, bridges, domes and spires must have inspired two of its favorite sons — Vivaldi (1678-1741) and Canaletto (1697-1768) — in creating their masterpieces in music and paintings, respectively.

This image is dedicated to Paolo Luigi Germano, who frequently posts photos from his beloved Italy. We spent two sensational days walking around Venice and Treviso on August 24-25.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6003 W: 457 N: 10419] (34887)
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