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Tag Archives campanile

THE ARMENIAN MONASTERY, SAN LAZZARO, VENICE

San Lazzaro island was the city’s

leper colony until the Doge

gave the Armenians sanctuary, no doubt

to annoy the Turks. An antique engraved print

of the monastery, which occupies

the whole island, hangs on the wall above

the small table I use for my laptop.

The monks did the engraving and print.

Their library is Alexandrian in scope.

 

Gordon Lord Byron, escaping the

blandishments of Shelley’s sister-in-law,

took an apartment on the Grand Canal,

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ADRIFT

Where part of the back wall of the scena

of the Greco-Roman amphitheatre

has collapsed, we can see the sun setting

on Etna, its smoke drifting like a veil

over the sea. The town’s orchestra –

of mandolins, lutes, guitars, double bass –

with its plangent, sentimental, heart-

rending timbre plays the prelude to act one

of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata’…

 

We saw the opera at the Bolshoi –

with its gilt chairs and the Romanov box

with the hammer and the sickle above –

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A DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF VENICE

PIAZZA DI SAN MARCO

 

After the sky has shaded from indigo

to sepia, when swifts have gone and pigeons

roost in the crepuscular arcades,

when the Basilica’s looted bronze horses

are illumined – where Rossano Brazzi

and Katherine Hepburn failed to meet

at any one of the five cafés in

Napoleon’s ‘most splendid drawing room

in Europe’, where Proust (holidaying

at the Danieli with mother) corrected

his translation of Ruskin and criticised

the risotto,

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