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With or without a mask, a wonder of the world

I am not going to discuss here the controversial subject of protective masks that have now become mandatory for enclosed public spaces and even a fashionable accessory. Instead, I will challenge you to play a much more relaxing game, a sort of a treasure hunt.

For starters, let me shout along with the sailors: "Land ahead!" For the object of our quest is a place on Earth; or, better put, SHE is a place. According to ancient chronicles, she was born in spring (March 421). Half eastern and half western, half land and half water, with one foot in Europe and the other sliding over the pearls of Asia, she called herself Serenissima. She dressed herself in gold. She had her own calendar: the year began on March 1, and the days began in the evening. She had a somewhat solitary pride about her and radiated a feeling of isolation. She shrouded herself more and more in magic and mystery. She seemed to live at the edge, between strange land and dreamland.

She has changed a great deal over time. She evolved as a peculiar amphibious society, the decorated doors of her villas opening directly onto the waters. During a time when she was considered the most important maritime power in the world, her wealth and strength were thought to be of divine origin. Her grandeur drew its sap from her geographical location: a natural meeting point between East and West. She became one of the most fascinating wonders of the world, dominating the Adriatic Sea and Eastern Europe. She turned into the most flamboyant of places. But above all she remained a city of water.

The splendid Orient began at her gates. She was a paradise of perfumes, spices, silks, gold-stitched fabrics, emeralds, shiny domes, rubies, and so many other expensive goods. She was a treasure chest.

For centuries, she kept her elegance and splendor. Then, she consumed her energy in many conflicts and lost her supremacy. In her last century of independence, she was the most exuberant city of worldly pleasures, a continuous celebration, a masquerade ball with unbridled carnivals. Nothing was too bold, too outrageous, or too indecent for her streets.

Consumed by a hectic hedonism, she was regarded from outsiders as a lone lion. Over time, this eccentric and unconventional version has been engulfed by the prosaic and modern one. In her glory days, she was a symbol of modernity. For some, she remains a quirky place, still wearing its adornments of old.

All we know for sure is that her grandeur lives on to this day. She was and still is a true phenomenon: a city-state, with its own language (full of contracted forms and bizarre distortions), an agglomeration of states, a metropolis-labyrinth filled with canals and alleyways, a museum or a grand exhibition out in the open air, decanted in greatness. She is today as sensual as ever and so rich in stories (many of which have been woven especially for you), in enigmatic features, in paradoxes and mysteries.

Byron, with his "emotional madness", Casanova the lover and Marco Polo the brave explorer are just a few of the great names that make you think of Her – a jewel shining through the sea air.

The Queen of the Adriatic was declared the most romantic city in the world and was included in the world heritage list in 1979.

The old lagoon city shows off its wonders, its theatrical splendors, enlivened by an old aphrodisiac: success. It attracts some with bewildering force, and others – with nostalgia. In recent decades, it has been invaded by myriads of tourists from all over the world: many come here for that special feeling of playing characters in the stories of this enchanted place.

Over time, this patch of land conquered by water has found new purposes. Thus, it has now become one of the most beautiful venues for international conferences, an important center for the study of arts and conservation techniques, a stage for shows of all kinds.

Her precious glassware and mirrors, her lace, artefacts and jewelry, her many stories and legends, the maze of narrow and picturesque streets, the open places that look like photo studios, the carnival masks, the colorful landscape, the houses with wooden blinds, the bridges, gondolas and boats, the bas-reliefs, the unmistakable architecture, the pigeons, the serenades, all of her art, spirituality, enchanting panoramas, flower-laden balconies, large rooms and chandeliers as old as the buildings they hang in, her islets that breathe peacefully and the friendly people who seem to enjoy life so much – they are all defining elements that shape her unique atmosphere, calling you back to her magic, to the indulging caresses of the sea breeze.

And if I say San Marco Square, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, the Rialto Bridge, the San Polo neighborhood, the Grand Canal and the Accademia Galleries, the Murano, Burano and Torcello Islands, then I have surely revealed her identity.

Filled with the fragrance of past and present times alike, the quirkiest thing about her is herself, the city itself, with or without a mask: Venice – music and poetry, a fresh breath, a state of exaltation, a cleansing of your sense of smell.

Discover the incredible energy and vibration of this spectral, archaic and idyllic place, of its seemingly dualistic nature: water and earth together, a rich past and just as fascinating a future!

Discover its authentic scent, unaltered by time, like a speck of the human soul, a fascinating creation, an olfactory souvenir and the feeling of melting into the rain!

Beautiful undertones of fruit (plum, coconut, fig, and raspberry), of sandalwood and musk hide under the perfect mask of attractive amber – a century-old fragrance: Venice 1920.


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