Yesterday it was spectral to witness aerial news footage, which I assume was recorded by drone (or perhaps an incredibly strong pigeon), broadcasting prevailing scenes at Venice’s St Marks Square and nearby canal system.
Clapping eyes on such a historically significant city, whose iconic architectural canvas is now bereft of human colour, drove home (if any were needed) the unprecedented global zeitgeist.
Such is the severity of events playing out round the world, for the first time since the late 16th century Venice’s Rialto Bridge (Ponte Di Rialto), abridging the Grand Canal, is bereft of the swarming proletarian masses who ordinarily invade its space. This renowned edifice just one of a multitude of city structures dating back several centuries.
Footnote – Somewhat quirkily, this iconic architectural achievement from the Renaissance period was designed and built by Antonio da Ponte. With the word ponte meaning bridge in Italian, I suggest a whimsical titbit worthy of mention….. Or maybe not!!
Until a few weeks ago, the city’s St Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) was a favoured hiding place for Wally (from the hide and seek ‘Where’s Wally’ books). Currently though, the site, whose basilica dates back to the 11th century’s dusk, is as bereft of people as my wallet was money on return from this beautiful city; following a 2006 vacation.
It’s not just the paucity of humankind, Piazza San Marco also appears bereft of its famed pigeon population; a massed throng who from experience approach with the jeopard of a Bomber Command airplane. I’m presuming the pigeons vacated the iconic square when, after humans exited stage left, their scavenging bounty became overly meagre.
I oft wonder what has become of these pigeons with food pickings so sparse from enforced human hermitry. I’d imagine scavenging in most world cities under current circumstances must be quite the challenge for these rats with wings.
Perhaps, during these thin times at the smorgasbord, these scraggy birds are forced to work a bit harder for their daily bread; maybe even having to kill their own prey. As opposed to relying on crumbs from a tourist ciabatta, or a stolen pizza crust.
Footnote – When, above, yours truly penned ‘I oft wondered what’s become of these pigeons with food pickings so sparse’, that’s not strictly true. In fact, that’s the first time that notion has ever trodden the corridors of my erratic mind.
What would Shakespeare’s characters from ‘The Merchant of Venice’ make of the prevailing human sparseness? Would Shylock’s money lending business have survived under these circumstances? While COVID-19 endeavours to take its metaphorical pound of flesh from as close to the world’s heart as possible, at what point will Portia intervene and save the day?
Anecdotally, I’ve heard the decreased in pollution, both flotsam and jetsam, consequential from human quarantine has been the catalyst to clearer waters around Venetian canal systems. Apparently, a dolphin was recently spotted within the cities waterways.
Yours truly realises this is a bit too deep and dark for 10.37am on a Monday morning, however, as I deem it worthy of note I’m gonna run with it anyhow……
Witnessing Venice magnificent centuries old architecture bereft of people gawping at it’s majesty, I concluded if humanity was ever wiped out by any pathogen, we’d be bequeathing this planet, of whom we’ve inflicted such damage, a multitude of wonderful man-made edifices.
To the food chain, the spoils!