Another change for which one cannot be too grateful is the lift. For the modest price of a franc one can be whirled to the belfry in a few seconds at any time of the day and refresh one’s eyes with the city and the lagoon, the Tyrolese Alps, and the Euganean hills. Of old one ascended painfully; but never again. Before the fall there were five bells, of which only the greatest escaped injury. The other four were taken to a foundry set up on the island of Sant’Elena and there fused and recast at the personal cost of His Holiness the late Pope, who was Patriarch of Venice. I advise no one to remain in the belfry when the five are at work. They begin slowly and with some method; they proceed to a deafening cacophony, tolerable only when one is far distant.
There are certain surprises in the view from the campanile. One is that none of the water of the city is visible—not a gleam—except a few yards of the Grand Canal and a stretch of the Canale della Giudecca; the houses are too high for any of the by-ways to be seen. Another revelation is that the floor pattern of the Piazza has no relation to its sides. The roofs of Venice we observe to be neither red nor brown, but something between the two. Looking first to the north, over the three flagstaffs and the pigeon feeders and the Merceria clock, we see away across the lagoon the huge sheds of the dirigibles and (to the left) the long railway causeway joining Venice to the mainland as by a thread. Immediately below us in the north-east are the domes of S. Mark’s, surmounted by the graceful golden balls on their branches, springing from the leaden roof, and farther off are the rising bulk of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, with its derivative dome and golden balls, the leaning tower of S. Maria del Pianto, and beyond this the cemetery and Murano. Beneath us on the east side is the Ducal Palace, and we look right into the courtyard and on to the prison roof. Farther away are the green trees of the Giardini Pubblici, the leaning tower of S. Pietro di Castello, and S. Nicholas of the Lido. In the south-east are the Lido’s various hotels and the islands of S. Lazzaro (with the campanile) and S. Servolo. In the south is the Grand Canal with a Guardi pattern of gondolas upon it, criss-crossing like flies; then S. Giorgio’s lovely island and the Giudecca, and beyond these various islands of the lagoon: La Grazia, S. Clemente, and, in the far distance, Malamocco. In the south-west the Custom House pushes its nose into the water, with the vast white mountain of the Salute behind it. In the west is the Piazza, immediately below, with its myriad tables and chairs; then the backs of the S. Moise statues; and farther away the Frari and its campanile, the huge telegraph-wire carriers of the harbour; across the water Fusina, and beyond in the far distance the jagged Euganean hills.