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Phespirit goes to Italy
Venice     March 1997

It was whilst descending into Marco Polo airport on a glorious day that Phespirit first marvelled at the beauty of Venice. Spilling forth from the arrivals lounge, he boarded the adjacent L15,000 water-bus to make the only appropriate entrance into this peerless city. The transfer takes a full hour and a quarter, hoving north around the city via the island of Murano and calling in at the Lido before turning in towards Venice itself. Thus, the final approach to San Marco is as it would be if cruising in from the Adriatic.

Phespirit did well to visit Venice outside the high tourist season, staying in a cheap hotel less than one minute's walk from Piazza San Marco, at a time when the square was free from floods and the sky was free from clouds. After numerous long lazy strolls around the six sestieri and frequent leisurely vaporetto runs to the Lido and other lagoon islands of San Michele, Murano, Torcello, Burano, Mazzorbo, Treporti and Guidecca, Phespirit concluded that Venice must surely be the most beautiful city on Earth.

Each island within the Venetian lagoon has a character of its own. Only the Lido has roads and cars; it is dominated by beach life, ramshackle art deco and memories of Von Aschenbach. San Michele is the eerie walled island, filled entirely with tombs. Murano is famous for its many glassworks and fine wares of the craftsmen therein. Burano is rich with multi-coloured houses and lacemakers shops. Torcello, far to the north, is desolate save for its grand old church and the marble throne of Attila the Hun.

On the small scale, Phespirit can recommend the local lemon and chocolate ice-creams, and the hand-made masks of Nason Daniele at Barbaria Delle Tole, Castello 6468/6469 (near Santi Giovanni e Paolo).

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