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Thomas Mann describes Venice in his novel Der Tod in Venedig. The protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach, arrives in Venice at the beginning of the summer; although the city is surrended by a sultry atmosphere because of the heat and the cholera, it’s still beautiful and surprising. Venice is compared to a queen of the see and a tourist can appraciate the arrival only if he comes from the see.

“So sah er denn wieder […], jene blendende Kmposition phantastischen Bauwerks, welche die Republik den ehrfürchtigen Blicken nahender Seefahrer entgegenstellte: […], und anschauend bedachte er, dass zu Lande, auf dem Bahnhof in Venedig anlangen einen Palast durch eine Hintertür betreten heiße, und dass man nicht anders, als wie nun er, als zu Schiffe, als über das hohe Meer die unwahrscheinlichste der Städte erreichen sollte.”

 

 

 Claude Monet, one of the most important representative of the Impressionism, visited Venice in 1908. According to the artist, the water expresses the sense of relativity of our being because reflections change continuously and because it seems to be always the same, but that’s not true. He describes Venice as the impression in stone. Monet painted the famous Palazzo Ducale. Venice is shown as perfect because its image changes every second and the artist can reach the “escaping moment”.

 

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Unfortunately, as we saw, Campo Santa Margherita was created in the XIX century. It couldn’t have been the object for great artists; however, Venice could. Expecially during the XVIII century, was fashionable to go on Grand Tour, a trip through Europe. Many artists in the past wrote, painted about the city and, above all, they had a relationship with it.

Lord Byron wrote a passage about Venice in his Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage between 1812 and 1818n the Serenissima Republic had just fallen down (in 1797 with the Treat of Campoformio, Napoleon); the author is considering how Venice was during the Republic and how the city is during his trip: he feels the loss of Venice, its art, its governament and its happiess, but at the same time, the Beauty of the city. The splendour overcomes the sadness. The Venice that the poet is considering has got an huge past and its signs remain on the stones, on the buildings: the splendour in the decadence. Even if the great power of the Serenissima is just a memory, Venice is still the same and its beauty inspires many people.

In Venice Tasso’s echoes are no more,

And silent rows the songless gondolier;

Her palaces are crumbling to the shore,

And music meets not always now the ear:

Those days are gone – but Beauty still is here.

States fall, arts fade – but Nature doth not die,

Nor yet forget how Venice once was dear,

The pleasant place of all festivity,

The revel of the earth, the masque of Italy!

 

John Ruskin described Venice as a ghost in the lagoon and as something difficult to catch and to see, something unmaterial but with its grace and its beauty; the city is double because evrything reflects itself on the water and it’s understandable which the real is. The author says he wants to fit the lines in time of this strange and great city before that they will be forgotten.

“Her successor […] is still left for our beholding in the final period of its decline: a ghost upon the sands of the sea, so weak – so quiet,- so bereft of all but her loveliness, that we might well doubt, as we watched her faint reflection in the mirage of the lagoon, which was the City, and which the Shadow.”

The Venetian lagoon was born in 800 b.C. and there were already some settlements; since then the city had been developing through many and different phases: Romans, Barbarians, Byzantines, the Serenissima (Republic of Venice), the Turkish Empire, Napoleon, the Austrian dominion and the Fascism.

Campo Santa Margherita hadn’t always been as we can see it now in 2010; before the XIX century, in the south it was defined by a canale, where the Scuola dei Varoteri was (it was where people lernt how to work the leather).

The school was the building isoleted in the southern side of the campo; nowadays, it belongs to the municipality. In 1800 Campo Santa Margherita landed up at the back of the little house and it gained its present aspect when many rii (canals) were filled in. In that period this urban operation was really common because of the need to enlarge the road network, to land reclamation and the necessity of better hygienic conditions.

In Campo Santa Margherita there’s a stone decoration in which “COLMATO IL RIVO A MAGGIOR AMPIEZZA” is engraved. It means exactlly that the canal was there had been overwhelmed.

The Chiesa di Santa Margherita was built by Geniaco Busignaco in the IX century, at the birth of the Venetian Republic. It was deconsecrated after 1810 under the Napoleon’s control; since then it was used for social activities and now it’s the centre of the Auditorium of Ca’Foscari University. Its bell tower is the only element on the campo. It’s characteristic in Santa Margherita because it’s cut off: the higher part was demolished in 1808 because precarious.

Persone was a project organised by “Chiama l’Africa” in 2008. It began in Venice, in Campo Santa Margherita (18th-21st April 2008) and then it continued in many other Italian squares. 100 silhouettes of African people were put all around in the area. These were shapes of real people, who accepted to be photographed in order to tell their stories. They came from different African zones and had different experiences. The aim of Persone was the comunication and connection between cultures. Among the outlines, there were some mirror silhouettes: in this ways, the person walking through them, could see him/herself and feel part of the group, integrated.

C’art is a project taking place in Santa Margherita once per year. It’s composed by meetings and presentations by famous comics drawers. Moreover, workshops are shelduded for children in order to try to put them in contact with the world of illustrations and drawing.

On Saturday 15th of May I interwied Ezio Micelli, the new town-planning assessor of Venice. During this meeting I had the chance to get to know my city better. Since I’ve moved to Milan, I’m spending not so much time in Venice and I’m losing all its workings and logics; and I’m happy that Mr Micelli helped me to focus and understand them.

As we know Campo Santa Margherita has got an huge social and funtional role. But why it? Well, Mr Micelli explained me that the new Venetian centre is Piazzale Roma, no more the old town. Almost everybody, who has been to Venice, knows it: it’s the big square full of parking near the railway station, it’s one of the few places where there’re cars in the city: P.le Roma is the most important coupling to reach the terraferma through the Ponte della Libertà.

 

 

I didn’t expect that a big park could be the city centre; however, that’s it! Lately, it has been developed a lot. First, many headquarters of public institutions have moved to round this area; second, the Calatrava’s Bridge (the 4th on the Canal Grande) has been built and it links P.le Roma to Santa Lucia Railway Station. The bridge has got a very important funtion because, before its building, to reach P.le Roma from the railway people had to lengthen the route and nowadays the cover to go through is shorter.

Third, another mean of transport has been built: the People Mover. It’s a train, it goes from P.le Roma to Tronchetto and vice versa. Like the Calatrava bridge, it also shorten the distances so that now it takes just 3 minutes.

Thanks to this changes, P.le Roma has been transformed from a peripheral area to the new centre. It’s interesting to focus our attention to this aspect: Venice is becoming more and more touristic and its centre has moved from the centre that attracts tourists (Piazza San Marco) to a very important coupling. P.le Roma isn’t just the link to the terraferma, it’s the link to the world, in the way the city lives in its reality.

However, P.le Roma couldn’t be a social area where people meet. So, where do the people go? To the closer area: Campo Santa Margherita that it’s just 5 minute walks far.

Shall we dance?

It’s summer, night: immagine you arrive in Campo Santa Margherita andthere’re peole dancing. Trust me, I’ve been there and I can say it’s amazing! A group stages tango classes and shows in various campi. I love this aspect of Venice: usually there’s nothing to do but you could decide to use and the live the space as you want, of course respecting law: just a bit of fantasy and imagination and you could create your fun and be the artist, the protagonist.

 

I can’t find a video about these events in Campo Santa Margherita; however, just to have an idea, here the links to videos of similar situations in Campo San Giacomo and in Madonna della Salute:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx-watfKN_w 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOib7p6PYl4