Of the estimated 60,000 visitors per day that wash in and out of Venice like the tides of the lagoon, a good proportion will visit the Rialto Bridge, and many of these will spill into the Campo San Giacomo and the trinket and handbag stalls that proliferate between the arches of Ruga degli Orefice. The colonnades that are disguised behind these stalls are ignored by those in search of a gift to take home from the city, but it wasn’t always so; one of Turner’s sketchbooks in The Tate, show that he considered the view looking back towards the bridge as potential subject matter, and historically these arches are where the bankers and moneylenders operated, and where the invention of the Bill of Exchange took place. (Sorry, but I’m a former banker). It was such a money-lender that provided Shakespeare with his inspiration for The Merchant of Venice of course.
Stepping behind these stalls and under the portico, there are still traces of former glory in the fading ceiling frescos, but I wonder just how many of the 60,000 never see them.
- Il fumatore (Venezia 14) (aphotogenicworld.wordpress.com)