The vigorous climb the campanile, from which, as Signor Rooskin says, may be seen Torcello and Venice—“Mother and Daughter ... in their widowhood.” Looking down, it is strange indeed to think that here once were populous streets.
On the way to the campanile do not forget to notice the great stone shutters of the windows of the cathedral; which suggest a security impossible to be conveyed by iron. No easy task setting these in their place and hinging them. What purpose the stone arm-chair in the grass between the baptistery and S. Fosca served is not known. One guide will have it the throne of Attila; another, a seat of justice. Be that as it may, tired ladies can find it very consoling in this our twentieth century.
For antiquaries there is a museum of excavated relics of Torcello; but with time so short it is better to wander a little, seeking for those wild flowers which in England are objects of solicitude to gardeners, or watching butterflies that are seen in our country only when pinned on cork.
The return voyage leaves S. Francesco in Deserto on the right, with the long low Lido straight ahead. Then we turn to the right and the Lido is on the left for most of the way to Venice. After a mile or so the mouth of the Adriatic is passed, where the Doge dropped his ring from the Bucintoro and thus renewed the espousals. On the day which I have in mind two airships were circling the city, and now and then the rays of the sun caught their envelopes and turned them to silver. Beneath, the lagoon was still as a pond; a few fishing boats with yellow sails lay at anchor near the Porto di Lido, like brimstone butterflies on a hot stone; and far away the snow of the Tyrolean alps still hung between heaven and earth.
ON FOOT. I: FROM THE PIAZZA TO S. STEFANO
The Ridotto—The Fenice Theatre—The Goldoni Theatre—Amleto—A star part—S. Zobenigo—S. Stefano—Cloisters—Francesco Morosini—A great soldier—Nicolo Tommaseo—The Campo Morosini—Red hair.
Leaving the Piazza at the corner diagonally opposite the Merceria clock, we come at once into the busy Salizzada S. Moise, where the shops for the more expensive tourists are to be found. A little way on the right is the beginning of the Frezzeria, a Venetian shopping centre second only to the Merceria. A little way on the left is the Calle del Ridotto where, divided now into a cinema theatre, auction rooms, a restaurant, and the Grand Canal Hotel, is the once famous Ridotto of which Casanova has much to tell. Here were held masquerades; here were gambling tables; hither Venice resorted to forget that she had ever been great and to make sure that she should be great no longer. The Austrians suppressed it.
The church of S. Moise, with its very florid facade of statuary, has little of interest in it. Keeping with the stream and passing the Bauer-Gruenwald restaurant on the left, we come in a few minutes to a bridge—the Ponte delle Ostreghe (or Oysters)—over a rio at the end of which, looking to the right, we see the great Venetian theatre, the Fenice.