This was an opportunity for me to travel with my colleague, Brian Glenney of the Philosophy department. We participated in the Venice Summer School on Science and Religion, an international conference sponsored by the Templeton Foundation. The topic was God and the Laws of Nature. Personally, this was a great opportunity for me to work on my integration paper, which is one of the tasks assigned to all Gordon professors during their process of professional advancement. I hope you enjoy these pictures that hopefully may transport you, in a small way, to Venice, one of the most photographable cities in the world.
An eight-hour layover in Madrid allowed us to spend the first day exploring one part of this old European city. This is a very large courtyard standing between this large church building and the royal palace behind me, complete with dozens of ornately decorated rooms. This was the first time I had been in an actual throne room.
One of my first shots of the "elegant decay" of Venice, taken from the window of the bus-like boat that brought us from the airport to our guest house in the southern part of Venice near the Academia bridge.
More elegant decay. The water had quite a greenish tinge, and the green of the water strikes me as a fine contrast with the color of the bricks. This must be one of the flooded buildings where people dwell starting on the 2nd floor.
Window display showcasing many wonderful colors of glass. These displays were incredibly eye-catching.
The patterns are a giveaway to those who have been there. It's San Marco Square, an enormous rectangular space framed by stores, restaurants, a huge church, and a very high bell tower, from which I am shooting this zoomed-in photo. Note the famous pigeons, which here look like tiny black dots.
No writing allowed! I couldn't resist setting up this silly shot. Dr. Glenney definitely had no problem breaking this rule, as he makes some notations in his journal. The sign was actually to stop graffiti, we guessed.
Here's one gondolier who likes having his photo taken. Yes, there are gondolas everywhere you look. But if you want to ride them, start saving your money. A ride is somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 bucks. I think half of the economy of Venice (at least) must rely on people telling themselves that this is a "once in a lifetime" experience.
This is Brian, myself, and one of the VSSR organizers, Karl Giberson, from Eastern Nazarene College, in nearby Quincy, MA. One might be tempted to remark that we resemble the three Amigos, Musketeers, or Stooges. In the background is one of our favorite places to visit, the Gelateria. Gelato was one of the most wonderful things we discovered in Italy, everyone agreed.
Of many gondola photos, this one seems to nicely capture the way these boats are piloted, as well as the kind of boat parking that is seen along the main "Grand Canal" that bisects the city of Venice. By the way, there are no cars in Venice, except at one end near the bus station. Within the city itself, and the other islands of Venice, there is not a car in sight. Particularly at night, this adds a surprising extra dose of peacefulness to the city.
Two doorways, one leading up and out, the other down and in. What kind of contingencies of history led someone to build this type of arrangement of a bridge, stairway, and so forth? This appears to be a good place to leave one's mark on the wall, as many have done.
Sir John Polkinghorne lecturing. In the foreground sits Dr. William Shea, who currently holds the Galileo Chair of the History of Science at the University of Padua, Galileo's hometown. Dr. Shea is another British fellow, and both of these wise gentlemen offered much to stimulate our thinking during the conference.
This gondola shot has everything, a good perspective on the distinctive prow ornamentation, which supposedly has a symbolic references to the 7 regions of Venice of Venetian history, 6 bars facing forward, one backward. This is actually a gondola caravan, complete with accordion accompanist. Obviously these people are celebrating a very special occasion.
These fish demonstrate the principle that virtually anything in glass is available in Venice. Many more examples of natural forms, such as insects, fish, birds, as well as many abstract works of glass were found everywhere in the city.
Many arches were topped ornamented keystones, in the likeness of faces. But clearly the Venetians take pride in these keystone faces which were quite abundant, and often exhibited a lot of personality and charm.
You cannot travel with me and not become the subject of photography. I thought these camera settings worked pretty well to give this striking photo of Brian.
Another bearded arch-dweller.
Like New Orleans, there is also a "carnival" celebration in Venice just before the start of Lent. The Venetian celebration certainly has a longer history than that celebrated in our comparatively young country. My estimate I that at least half of the shops sell carnival masks of one kind or another. These were fairly unique leaf designs. They look sad, don't they?
Sir John Polkinghorne chatting with one of the participants during one of the coffee breaks.
Another shot of Brian another VSSR student. Here we are riding up the Grand Canal on a bus-boat. Also, notice the unknown young woman in the middle flashing a Mona Lisa smile… is it a smile? Such unexpected surprises are always a fun part of photography for me.
This is a canal on the island of Murano, where the much of Venice's famous glass is made. Galileo himself traveled here to get the best glass for his lenses, I was told. What a fantastic mix of colors and reflections.
Young artists in Murano perched next to a striking blue boat.
The yellow house in Murano. I am not sure if the owner of this house is following the city color code. I don't recall seeing too many houses painted so brightly. Naturally I could not resist snapping a couple shots.
These are reproductions of the horses over the entrance of San Marco Basilica. The originals, on display in the museum within, are known as the Triumphal Quadriga, and were captured in Constantinople in 1204 by Doge Enrico Dandolo as part of the fourth crusade.
These are actual real live Gordon students that I happened to "bump into" at a flea market in Venice. They were on a day trip from Orvieto. What are the chances of that? There were some amazing things for sale here, including a crossbow, old pipes of every size and shape, and glassware, of course.
While grabbing a bite in a small sandwich shop, these fellows were joking with one of the waitresses. Later that afternoon we were surprised to see the man on the left in his gondola out cruising around in the canal.
This churchyard was at the very "tail end" of Venice, which was a much less frequented area. It is currently under restoration. Someone there enjoys caring for plants, as some very fine specimens are strewn about. I have a feeling not many visitors to Venice walked all the way down to this church, but it was open, and there were the usual cluster of candles lit within, despite all the netting and scaffolding filling the interior and seemingly holding up the roof.
Another archway face, this one particularly beguiling.
This was a challenging low light shot taken while we both were in motion in the low evening light, and I like the effect. This is one of the last evenings of the trip. I am glad to have been able to visit this special and unique city. The next time I go, I will need to bring my love with me, however. That goes without saying, but I say it anyway!