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Venice got here to lifestyles on spongy mudflats on the fringe of the liveable global. secure in a tidal estuary from barbarian invaders and Byzantine overlords, the fishermen, salt gatherers, and investors who settled there crafted an amphibious lifestyle in contrast to something the Roman Empire had ever recognized. In an unbelievable feat of narrative historical past, James H. S. McGregor recreates this world-turned-upside-down, with its waterways instead of roads, its boats tethered along dwellings, and its livelihood harvested from the ocean.

McGregor starts off with the river currents that poured into the shallow Lagoon, carving channels in its mattress and depositing islands of silt. He then describes the inventive responses of Venetians to the calls for and possibilities of this harsh environment—transforming the channels into canals, reclaiming salt marshes for the development of big church buildings, erecting a thriving market and stately palaces alongside the Grand Canal. via McGregor’s eyes, we witness the flowering of Venice’s stressed creativity within the intricate mosaics of St. Mark’s hovering basilica, the expressive work in smaller local church buildings, and the colourful spiritual festivals—but additionally in theatrical productions, playing casinos, and masked revelry, which exhibit the city’s much less pious and orderly face.

McGregor tells his specific heritage of Venice by means of drawing on a crumbling, tide-threatened cityscape and a treasure-trove of paintings that could nonetheless be visible in position this present day. The narrative follows either a chronological and geographical association, in order that readers can hint the city’s evolution bankruptcy by means of bankruptcy and viewers can discover it district through district walking and through boat.

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