Nobody knows who designed this fantastic public square. Then there is Doge's Palace, bearing masonry-cut, stone-colored marble: it seems impossible that its great bulk could be held aloft by those slender columns and arches.
I stand and stare for a long time at the soaring dome of the baroque Santa Maria della Salute Church, built to celebrate the end of the plague that killed over a third of Venice's inhabitants. From misery, such beauty.
So you consider all this, while realizing you are walking in a city – which consists of 118 small islands, interconnected by 150 canals and 400 bridges – that is essentially held up by wooden stakes over a spongy foundation of clay and peat; many experts believe the city is slowly sinking into the Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea.
All this everyday, sad beauty is a little breath-taking, especially to an American weaned on shopping malls and business-inspired generic buildings.
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So it's time to visit one of those famous Venetian cafes. Besides, beauty is best appreciated with a little wine to awaken the senses. Besides that, on a more prosaic note, it's lunch time. It's difficult to find, but I end up at Cantina do Mori, the Venetian equivalent of a wine bar. This is one of the oldest and more authentic old-style bars in the city. So what if I have to stand?
Continue: page 3 of Venice a Love Story