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Life Thursday Doors Venice

Thursday Doors – Death in the time of Corona

People “go to Venice to expire”. Especially famous people. Wagner died in a building which is now the casino. Diaghilev, Ezra Pound, Albinoni, Titian and Dante all died in Venice.

It is also a wonderful location for films. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade, Casanova, Casino Royale, The Tourist, and many others.

Luchino Visconte’s film Death in Venice (1971) opens with a long shot of a ferryboat steaming across the lagoon, accompanied the sad adagietto from Mahler’s 5th symphony. Aschenbach (played by Dirk Bogarde) dies from cholera, seated in a deckchair on the lido in the final scene.

I kept an eye out for a small child wearing a blood-red raincoat, scurrying across a bridge, but I didn’t even see a funeral barge on the Grand Canal unlike Donald Sutherland in Nicolas Roeg’s film, “Don’t Look Now“.

There are ten churches facing the Grand Canal. Here are a few:

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Mary the deliverer of health), built by the citizens who survived the plague of 1630. The interior decoration refers to the Black Death. Four other churches were built in thanksgiving following plagues – St Job, St Sebastian, St Rocco and the Redentore. I wonder if they will build another following this pandemic?
San Simeone Piccolo, St Simon the Lesser
Santa Maria di Nazareth, next to the Scalzi Bridge and the railway station
Church of San Stae, a Baroque Masterpiece

Not everyone is as fond of Venetian churches as I am. The Victorian art critic, Ruskin, described one famous church, San Giorgio Maggiore, thus: “it was impossible to conceive a design more gross, more barbarous, more childish in conception, more servile in plagiarism, more inspid in result, more contemptible under every point of rational regard”. He didn’t like it much, did he?

Some of the churches were open, but none that I entered permitted photography. I would have liked to photograph the message in one church which said that the celebration of mass could be joined online, for a contribution of 1.50 Euros. I wonder how many people would log on, and drop off during the sermon?

I think that churches in Italy will open this weekend, subject to social distancing measures.

By Dr Alfred Prunesquallor

Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.

4 replies on “Thursday Doors – Death in the time of Corona”

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