You will see a page entitled That was then... this is now: Venice
First, there is a quote from John Evelyn's Diary, 1645. Since John Evelyn is not exactly a household name, here is a description from the British Library Online:
"Hitherto John Evelyn has principally been known from his Diary. The Archive allows him to be seen in his true milieu, that of the community of seventeenth century intellectuals who aimed to establish a major programme of scientific and technological development, linked with social and economic progress. He emerges as this community's most long-lived and versatile member: scholar, connoisseur, bibliophile and horticulturalist, as well as a writer and thinker of sometimes startlingly current relevance, on everything from forestry, architecture and the formation of a universal library to fashion and air pollution."
Page 9 opens with a quote of Evelyn's that speaks of the Venetian perfumers & Apothecaries, and the "cages of Nightingals" and how, if you close your eyes, you would imagine you were in the country -- "tis almost as silent as the field." That quote is highlighted by the image, "Bird's Eye View of Venice" by Joseph Heintz (c.1600-78).
Below that there are three quotes from Venetian Cat - Venice Blog, 2008: "Tips for moving around Venice," in which I ask you to imagine you are a car -- "One person sitting on a bridge can cause a traffic jam for miles." My quotes are highlighted by the legs of tourists in a slightly flooded St. Mark's Square.
Well, I will tell you that it is still possible to hear the silence punctuated by the songs of caged Nightingales or Canaries or Parakeets dangling from the windows in several parts of Venice to this very day. In fact, there was a mighty warbler not far from my house in a window on Ruga Rialto. It is a delightful Venetian tradition to put singing birds in the windows, and if you can make your way off the beaten paths, you, too, may find yourself serenaded by a Venetian bird. The photo on the right was taken by jschneid and can be found on Flickr, entitled Venice Scene 12.
On the days of the regattas, when the vaporetti and other motorized boats don't run on the Grand Canal, Venice is once again, beautifully silent. I dream of the future when we have hybrid boats like there are hybrid cars -- electric/solar inside the historic center, and then gasoline (if necessary) out past the lagoon.
I believe the one of the reasons there is such chaos in Venice today is because not enough effort has been made to educate travelers how to move inside the city. We, who live here, sometimes forget just how strange and different Venice is from any other city in the world. So, please, do read my tips you will find listed there on the right before you come!
I want to thank Sue Norris, the Associate Editor of the FT Weekend Magazine, for stumbling on my blog and featuring it in the Financial Times.
Ciao from Venice,