Ruskin was fond of this view. Writing to old Samuel Rogers, he said: “There was only one place in Venice which I never lost the feeling of joy in—at least the pleasure which is better than joy; and that was just half way between the end of the Giudecca and St. George of the Seaweed, at sunset. If you tie your boat to one of the posts there you can see the Euganeans where the sun goes down, and all the Alps and Venice behind you by the rosy sunlight: there is no other spot so beautiful. Near the Armenian convent is, however, very good too also; the city is handsomer, but the place is not so simple and lovely. I have got all the right feeling back now, however; and hope to write a word or two about Venice yet, when I have got the mouldings well out of my head—and the mud. For the fact is, with reverence be it spoken, that whereas Rogers says: ‘There is a glorious city in the Sea,’ a truthful person must say, ‘There is a glorious city in the mud’. It is startling at first to say so, but it goes well enough with marble. ’Oh, Queen of Marble and of Mud.’”
Another delectable house is that one, on the island of S. Giorgio Maggiore; which looks right up the Giudecca canal and in the late afternoon flings back the sun’s rays. But that is the property of the army. Another is at the corner of the Rio di S. Trovaso and the Fondamenta delle Zaterre, with wistaria on it, looking over to the Redentore; but every one, I find, wants this.
ON FOOT. II: THREE CHURCHES AND CARPACCIO AGAIN
The Ponte di Paglia—A gondolier’s shrine—The modern prison—Danieli’s—A Canaletto—S. Zaccaria—A good Bellini—A funeral service—Alessandro Vittorio—S. Giovanni in Bragora—A good Cima—The best little room—A seamen’s institute—Carpaccio at his best—The story of the dragon—The saint triumphant—The story of S. George—S. Jerome and the lion—S. Jerome and the dog—S. Tryphonius and the basilisk—S. Francesco della Vigna—Brother Antonio’s picture—The Giustiniani reliefs—Cloisters—A Veronese—Doge Andrea Gritti—Doge Niccolo Sagredo.
I propose that we should walk from the Molo to S. Francesco della Vigna.
Our first bridge is the Ponte di Paglia (or straw), the wide and easy glistening bridge which spans the Rio del Palazzo at the Noah corner of the Doges’ Palace. Next to the Rialto, this is the busiest bridge in the city. Beautiful in itself, it commands great beauty too, for on the north side you see the Bridge of Sighs and on the south the lagoon. On its lagoon facade is a relief of a primitive gondola and the Madonna and Child, but I have never seen a gondolier recognizing the existence of this symbol of celestial interest in his calling.