On the third floor of Ca’ Rezzonico –
where gondoliers slept when the palazzo
was let to the song writer Cole Porter –
is Egidio Martini’s collection
of five centuries of Venetian art.
Three of the floors’ small windows survive,
each an intentional belvedere.
Two view the Grand Canal, the third south west.
The eye follows the perspective below:
a canal and its quay with inevitable
eclectic craft, stone bridges and turisti;
then tenements and the terracotta tiles –
but not the anticipated skyline,
on the mainland, of the Euganean Hills,
distant and pale as if the background to
a nativity or crucifixion
instead seven, multi-storey cruise liners.
On the floor below are the city’s masters:
Canal, Guardi, Longhi, and Tiepolo
whose son’s fresco, Il Mundo Novo, depicts
the backs of a late eighteenth century
Venetian crowd of all clans and classes
queuing to see a huckster’s peep show
of America – the crassness
of the machine observed in profile
only by the artist and his late father.
When the son died La Serenissima
had ended. Bonaparte had arrived.
From the ballroom below there is music.
‘You’re the tops…You’re Napoleon Brandy…
You’re a painting by Botticelli…
You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa…the moon
over Mae West’s shoulder.’