The Venetian streets I walk each day are paved in 300-year old herringbone pattern bricks that, despite bearing countless millions of footsteps each year, provide an enduring pavement. The houses are old and disintegrating on the outside, yet peeking through widows reveals modern interiors that have been painstakingly and lovingly restored. Of the 56 churches listed in my guide to Venice (there are more – the guide lists only the major sites), not a single one is less than 200 years old and many date back to the 9th or 10th centuries. History wells up between these paving stones. It oozes through the cracks in the crumbling bricks of these ancient houses and saturates the inner sanctums of every Venetian church. I find this somehow comforting, as if this history connects all humanity through time and space. In the United States we think a house is obsolete if it more than 20 years old. We tear down old buildings without a second thought for their history and the sense of place that is lost once the building is destroyed. We are so caught up in the modern, the new, and the need to achieve that we sometimes lose sight of what is important. So, to honor that palpable sense of history that permeates Venice, I provide the following photo tour of just a few of the historical sites of Venice:

San Moise Church in Venice Italy

San Moise Church

San Zuliani Church in Venice Italy

San Zuliani Church

Santi Giovanni E Paolo Church in Venice Italy

Front view of Santi Giovanni E Paolo Church, with its attached hospital at the left

Santi Giovanni E Paolo Church in Venice Italy

Side view of Santi Giovanni E Paolo Church

Marco Polo's house in Venice Italy

Marco Polo’s house (Marco Polo, for gosh sakes!)

San Giacomo Di Rialto Church in Venice Italy

San Giacomo Di Rialto Church

Old Doge's Palace in Venice Italy is under renovation, including being shored up at the foundation because it is slowly sinking

Old Doge’s Palace, under renovation, including being shored up at the foundation because it is slowly sinking

San Lorenzo Church in Venice Italy

San Lorenzo Church

Santa Maria Formosa Church in Venice Italy

Santa Maria Formosa Church

San Salvador Church in Venice Italy

San Salvador Church

Santa Maria Dei Miracoli Church in Venice Italy

Santa Maria Dei Miracoli Church

And last but not least, Campo San Cancione Church, which is shown as it looks today at the top, and at the bottom as it looked in the late 1800’s, here captured by the famous American landscape and portrait painter, John Singer Sargent. I feel fortunate to have seen this painting in person while here in Venice, because the Art Museum has arranged a retrospective of his works, many of which are in private collections and may never again be seen in public forums. What is most remarkable is that the square has not changed at all since Sargent painted it! I stood on the exact spot from where he painted and gazed at the scene before me. The old city well is still there in the center of the square. The arches, the pillars, and the shutters are all the same, more than 200 years later. Even the walls are painted the same color ad the very same stains streak the walls beneath the windows! It was eerie and fascinating at the same time, and I can easily understand why seeing this particular painting and then standing at the square where it was painted is considered to be a sort of “holy grail” for artists:

Present day Campo San Cancione Church in Venice Italy

Present day Campo San Cancione Church

Campo San Cancione Church, as painted by American Artist John Singer Sargent in the late 1800's

Campo San Cancione Church, as painted by American Artist John Singer Sargent in the late 1800’s

If you plan to visit Venice (and I heartily recommend it), you may want to consider staying at Casa Cosmo. I chose it because of its location on a quiet lane (as quiet as it ever gets in Venice) about three minutes from St. Mark’s Plaza. It has clean, modern, spacious rooms for about $60 Euro per night – a bargain in Italy! Included in the price is a continental breakfast that is delivered to your room each morning, free wireless internet connection for your laptop, and the wealth of information available from Davide, who works the front desk, and his parents, the owners.

Early tomorrow morning I travel to Rome where, I am quite sure, I will continue to be awestruck by culture and history.