martedì 15 ottobre 2013

This isn't Sparta. It's Venice.

Canaletto, Capriccio with Venetian Motifs, Saint Louis Art Museum. 
At the beginning we were only a village, with lots of huts. We fished and sold salt. We were free and no one dared to hazard into our waters: sandbanks and quagmires, shoals made treacherous by the tides. The coast mutates from day to day, from hour to hour actually. 
The village was founded by people in misfortune, the refugee of Aquileia, destroyed by Attila and his Huns. Others came afterwards: from Gradus, Altinum, Concordia. People arrived the very night of the onslaught. They were frantic, hopeless, exhausted. The fishermen knew about a little group of islands in the middle of the lagoon separated by a wide canal, like a bit of a river which was lost in the sea. The men gathered dry grass to lie down on. The younger women stretched out to nurse their babies and someone managed to light a fire. The next day the carpenters began to cut down trees and build houses, the fishermen went out to fish. Our new homeland was born. We were all Veneti and we called our town Venetia. Our realm is the lagoon.  Our men know every corner of it, every shoal, every beach, every little island. It's indefinable, ambiguous: neither land nor sea, nor sky; when the low clouds merge with the foaming waves, it's all three things together - invisible, often, foggy in the winter and misty in the summer, flat like the surface of the water. Each one of those islands is covered by thick woods. Our children sleep cradled by the song of the nightingale and the cries of the gull. The children of each one of us belong to everyone. We share everything we have and we help one another. We build flat-bottomed boats that can go anywhere. We build ships that can face the open sea. Time will come in which Venetia will be pride of the earth and the lady of the sea.

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