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Photographer's Note

The photo shows a slice of life on the Grand Canal of Venice. There was a light drizzle, and we were just taking a vaporetto ride when we came across a cluster of gondolas — their occupants, a group of tourists huddled under umbrellas. This is a typical slice of daily life scene of the visitor's Venice, in distinction to a photo I posted featuring the Venetian's Venice.

Venice, the storied city situated in a lagoon off the northeast corner of Italy, is comprised of 117 small islands, 150 canals and 409 bridges. Indeed, the gondolas are its cars, the vaporetti its buses, the canals its roads, and the sweeping S-shaped Grand Canal its major thoroughfare. It would be an understatement to say that it is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities of the world. The immensely creative individuals who called the city home at one time or another include painters, Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto; composer, Vivaldi; astronomer-mathematician, Galileo; lover and general low-life, Cassanova… and for a short time in the early 16th century, the universal genius, Leonardo.

There had been no new bridges built in the last 70 years when in 1996 the contemporary Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, was awarded the commission to build the 409th bridge — a 94-meter (310 ft) long, single-arch bridge — the first bridge in 70 years, and only the fourth bridge spanning the Grand Canal. With an expected price of 5 million Euros, the bridge was to have been completed by 2005. Because of endless vicissitudes, however, the cost of the bridge and its completion date turned out to be a pipe dream — the cost soared to four times the expected, and the bridge was opened in 2008, sans an opening ceremony. Its many admirers described it as “… a carpet of light,” while an army of detractors called it “a whale… a monument to bad administration, and a waste of Venice’s money.” I happen to belong to the former group. For me, the Calatrava Bridge is breath taking in its graceful lines, its glass façades allowing reflection and refraction, depending on how the light hits it. I believe personally that rather than emulate the architectural styles of earlier periods, the Renaissance and Baroque, it is better to build in a contemporary design, and make it harmonious with the setting. I posted a photo of the Calatrava Bridge almost three years ago after touring Venice with my good friend Paolo Luigi Germano.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6783 W: 476 N: 12169] (41261)
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