I used the original map to help me imagine what Venice would be like before I visited – to try to get to know it somehow – the Serpentine curve of the Grand Canal, the bridges and byways, the piazzas. From this aerial view, like the view you get from a plane, it seems so simple, so tranquil, and so still – two interconnecting shapes, that remind me of yin-yang, gently caressing each other. It has a certain order and even the orange and dark blue buildings that are picked out as of special interest seem evenly balanced in the way they are scattered lightly across the city.
As anyone who’s ever been to Venice, the experience on the ground, on foot, is very different. The Serpentine curve becomes a vast divider between the two shapes of the city which can only be crossed at special somewhat hidden points. The bridges are normally thronged and overflowing ridiculously with tourists. The byways lead to a hundred dead ends and tiny alleyways to get lost in. And the piazzas vibrate with the ebbs and flows of people all day and all night.
This city is endlessly intriguing, beautiful and changing – and yet it’s timeless.
It’s also somewhere I’ll always jump at the chance to go and lose myself in.