There are a handful of locations in the world that just stop you in your tracks. They are so iconic and beautiful that they can be hard to take in. St. Mark’s Square in Venice is one of those places. My sister admitted that she actually burst into tears when she first saw St. Mark’s Square. She was genuinely overwhelmed by it’s scale and beauty. This is a phenomenon often seen in Florence with its abundance of beautiful art. It is often referred to as “Stendhal Sydrome“.
Although, I didn’t have quite the same reaction when I first laid eyes on this historic piazza, I did feel a sense of awe as I stepped off the vapareto and saw the towering campania to my left and the magnificent Basilica San Marco to my right. I just stopped and stared, complete captivated by my surroundings. No wonder pickpockets have such a high success rate here. If it was this difficult just to take it in with my eyes, how hard would it be to photograph?
This trio of photographs from St. Mark’s Square were all taken on my first evening in “La Serenissima”.
St. Mark’s Basilica Reflection
St Mark’s Basilica is an obvious starting point when it came to photographing St Mark’s Square. There really is no other church building like it anywhere else. The majority of the present structure was completed by the end of the 11th century. The building it self is an attractive blend of Eastern and Western influences with rounded Romanesque arches and a series of Byzantine style domes.
On my first evening in Venice, the Piazza was still covered in large puddles from the previous days flood or ‘acqua alta‘ as the Venetians call the regular (and in my opinion rather rude) incursions of the Adriatic Sea into their city. These puddles provided great opportunities for reflections and so I waded into one large pool of water in front of the basilica. I think it was worth ending up with soggy shoes. The beautiful front façade was perfectly reflected in the pool of water. I squelched back to dry land happy to have gotten my first keeper of the trip.
Ristorante Quadri at Night
Blue hour is without a doubt the best time to take night time photographs. After I took the Basilica San Marco photo above, the night began to darken and the sky turned black. Pure black skies don’t tend to look so attractive in night photographs so I turned my attention to the arcades and cafes that surround St Mark’s Square.
As in the first photo in this post, I used the pools of water to capture the reflections of city lights at night. Once again, I got my feet wet. The wonderful thing about the piazza at night is the collection of mini orchestras playing outside the various cafes and restaurants. This being the city of Antonio Vivaldi, I expected to hear the the melodious refrains of “The Four Seasons” filling the night air. Instead, they appeared to be playing “We Will Rock You” by Queen. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Queen but the subsequent rendition of “Radio Gaga” did seem slightly out of place on the Piazza San Marco.
Orchestra at Ristorante Quadri
In the photograph above, I decided to focus in on a couple who were watching a mini orchestra performing outside the famous Ristorante Quadri. Dining at this particular opulent eatery will require you remortgage your home and sell your first born child. Two coffees alone will set you back about €30!
That said, the terrace outside this Venetian institution provides one of the most spectacular settings in the world to enjoy a meal. Where else in the world can you look at the magnificent Basilica San Marco while eating a five star meal all while listening to an orchestral version of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”?
A shutter speed of 1.3 seconds helped create some motion blur as the violinist played. It also makes it look as if he has two heads. After taking this shot, I discretely listened in on the couple’s conversation as they debated which of their children they would use to pay for their meal. Personally, I’d go on future earning potential.
Venice – “Queen” of the Adriatic
With my first photographic foray in Venice complete, I took the time to sit on the steps opposite the basilica at the far end of the piazza and just take in my surroundings, or it least tried to. The architecture was certainly stunning but I became engrossed with the game of cat and mouse between the local police and pickpockets as the Carabinieri half-heartedly chased them around splendour of the piazza. One female officer was wearing stilettos as she ran. It was actually quite impressive. In italy, style comes before all else.
It was time to head back to the Air BnB but not before stopping for a drink outside one of the cafés on the piazza. After exchanging a kidney for a small beer, I sat down and once again simply took in my surroundings all the while listening to the strains of another Freddie Mercury masterpiece expertly played by the cafe orchestra. I do have to wonder what Vivaldi’s opinion of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ would have been.
You can see more of my photographs from Venice in the Southern Europe Gallery.
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