...and so the beleaguered townsfolk moved into and onto the lagoon, in the process appropriating hundreds of thousands—ahem, millions—of trees for pilings, to augment the many swampy islands already there. Thus it was that although the place came into being because waves of cruel marauders forced them to think up a creative extremity such as this (simply for the sake of continuing as a people), in the process of pursuing this inspired water-built community Venetians became traders (unabashedly wealthy) and of course hyperactive ship builders (immensely powerful). Throughout their city today evidences remain of that effervescent renaissance era, still visible despite the inevitable upwelling of cheesy tourist shops.
Not above some mischief of their own making, medieval Venetians appropriated these four magnificent bronze horses from Constantinople's Hippodrome in 1204, and placed them conspicuously above the entrance of St Mark's Cathedral—an impressive feat of thievery even by contemporary standards.
Five days in Venice, and five in Ravenna
On the sixth century Veneto mainland, Lombard attacks were unrelenting
Ornamentations of public buildings in the city, meant to show government power, reveal exceptional embellishments of finery. Here is the face of the Doge's Palace of 1340, surely intended to evoke images of some grandee's home in the then-being-exploited Eastern Roman Empire.
Click to see our nearby Venice water-bus-stop
Nearby the little island of Murano produces the most amazing blown glass artwork, while Burano, a neighboring small island, tats endless lace items for tourists. Both craft communities are easily accessible by water taxi.
Train route from Venice to Ravenna—a little over three hours of Veneto scenery.
90 miles down the Adriatic coast-line from Venice is Ravenna, whose primary claim to history-book eminence is that briefly it was the capital city of the entire Roman empire. For about 75 years (right before classical Latin society and Roman government finally collapsed), this area of marshes and insects was effectively the seat of late-imperial government. During its identity as the place where influential movers and shakers of both secular and church circles tried to hang onto vestiges of stable Roman civilization, its Byzantine aesthetic connection resulted in some remarkable examples of mosaic art.
Which, mirabile dictu,are still with us—housed largely in oddly shaped church buildings that show greater affinity to the architecture of Constantinople than to ancient Rome.
Click—you can see why I'm a little contemptuous of hotel rooms.
A walk and a taxi ride eastward along the wide, stubby canal, to our