Published: 1 May 2018

A Postcard: English Students in Venice

Words and pictures by Amy Moor, third year English Student at the University of Liverpool.

A train, a plane, a bus and a boat later, we arrived at a surprisingly grey and drizzly Venice. Though the travelling and rain challenged group morale, seeing the floating city in its non-postcard form was actually quite profound. Allowing us to empathise with the likes of Byron and see Venice sinking inundated with floating ‘coffins clapt in a canoe’, the city oozed drama.

A short jaunt and the University of Venice was a sight for sore eyes, with ceilings dashed with cherubs and chandeliers galore, they really made quite the host for the talk ahead. We were lucky enough to witness David Hering interview Pulitzer prize winning American novelist, Jennifer Egan, all about her newly released novel ‘Manhattan Beach’ and more. Her outlook on rediscovering her New York home through its past really set us up to absorb Venice through our literary predecessors.

‘Give me all the carbs with a bottle of wine!’

We sat down to a wonderfully civilised meal, where we indulged only so appropriately, on all the Italian cuisine we could get our hands on. A game of ‘my most controversial view point’ lead to numerous heated discussions involving the monarchy, Abba and pineapple on pizza, which was only further fuelled by a new-found favourite, the Aperol Spritz. Well… when near Rome?

 

“No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents.” ― Ezra Pound

Day two and the wind was frosty, but the skies were bright, the group feeling slightly more rested, we set out for St Marks Square. This was an opportunity to absorb the Venetian architecture, particularly through the lens of Ruskin. We stood captivated by the Basilica which stood with an outstanding heir of superiority within the vast span of the square. With its embellishment of gold, layers of statues, endless arches, it stands with pride, as it arrogantly reflects itself in the sinking cities puddles.

A coffee or five later, and we set off to seek the original ghetto, watching the architectural style rapidly transform into narrow allies with high set pastel buildings decorated with window boxes and washing lines, we grasped a peep-hole into Venetian life. The piazza at the heart of the ghetto made an amazing setting to recite some of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. This was then followed by discussions of literature, politics and ethics galore over, guess again… more coffee.

The next day involved a brief discussion of Brodsky’s Watermark before getting a water-taxi over to his place of rest, adjacent from his nemesis Ezra Pound. Where we read through their poetry which gave a remarkable new depth to pieces of literature we had perhaps studied before and made then feel all the more real.

Over to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, a true essence of her, it’s amazing to see a gallery composed completely by the means of one person’s taste. The variety of talent throughout the space seemed so personal and intimate, this alongside a brief biographical talk, meant we really got to see Peggy’s personality and her progression throughout her life and career.

After a final day of flânerie, the night closed with some accommodation karaoke bringing all the best Europop and an interesting cover of ‘No Woman No Cry’. We were all sad to be leaving the late nights of Aperol with our new friends behind.

Of course, a massive thank you to Sandeep Parmer, David Hering, Matthew Bradley and Sam Solnick for helping us navigate the water-taxis, collating our massive restaurant orders (pure chaos) but mostly importantly, helping us students absorb the culture of Venice by making the trip so worth while.

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