“Jeez, 32 Euros is a lot just to get to the top of the tower” I said.
“But we’re here now, we might as well do it” she replied.
It’d been a long day under a late summer cerulean sky. We were weary after traipsing round piazzas and along canal banks
“Jim and I will use the steps to save some cash” but when we entered the darkness there was no access to stairs and the fee was to ascend by the lift packed with people of many nations.
Once at the top we could, through netting draped to keep the birds out, take in views of the city. In St Mark’s Square below us tourists sought shade in the shadows of the state buildings. In the Rialto, beautifully dressed Venetians went coolly about their business. On the lagoon, barges and speed boats ferried people to and fro on the ebb and flow of waters which glittered with the kiss of the sun. Long queues formed, past beggars and standard bearing prophets of doom, to enter the Byzantine Basilica where, under the altar the evangelist’s bones are supposed to rest.
They were brought to Venice in a barrel of pickled pig parts after being stolen by quick buck merchants visiting Alexandria in the 9th century. Or so the story goes. Everywhere there are doves, not white but plump, proud pigeons with collars of emerald and papal purple.
Looking up, inside the campanile but away from the bells, fixed to a wall is a stone plaque commemorating Galileo who, in Shakespeare’s time, demonstrated a telescope to the Doge as part of his heretical efforts to show that the earth moved around the sun.
“Don’t you think it’s remarkable to be here”, I say. “Standing on the same spot as a great man who shifted our perspective.”
And then I think of the first astronauts who, snapping photographs through the windows of their capsule could eclipse the goddess Gaia with their thumbnail.”