I want to call it My Venezia, but it’s no more mine than anyone else’s who has beheld its haunting and hushed beauty. For centuries, it has captured the imagination of artists from Canaletto to Shakespeare.
This crumbling jewel of Northern Italy, built completely on marshland, is steeped in history and irresistibly imbued with romance. Known as “The City of Light” and “Queen of the Adriatic,” Venezia is indelibly tinged with dark intrigue, decadence and decay. If you’ve traveled here at any time in your life, even once, or only briefly, you leave knowing you’ve witnessed the unforgettable. It has that effect of never leaving you.
The world’s smallest metropolis, comprising 118 small islands along the Adriatic Sea, Venezia was a maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades. The city’s long decline began some 500 years ago; but its survival of two episodes of the Black Death, and the loss of its thousand years of independence to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1797 – as well as the fact that it appears to be sinking slowly into the waters on which it is built – has only added to its mystique.
Now a collection of images to match its mystical history, photographed over a span of 30 years, quietly made by one of the preeminent photographers of his generation and one of my personal favorites, Michael Kenna in this beautifully produced book Venezia. The images are part of a large retrospective exhibition of Kenna’s work at Palazzo Magnani Museum, Reggio Emilia, Italy in Spring, 2010.
“I love this place, I love this photographer. How could I not love this book?” she sighed.
Photo: (Top) Kenna, Accademia Bridge, Venice, Italy 2007, via Wayne Ford