Venice is one of those cities that, once it has entered your heart, never leaves it. A truly magical place full of history, power and intrigue and one that offers far more than meets the eye to those prepared to wander off the well-beaten tourist track.
The poet Robert Browning, once quoted as saying “Open my heart and you will see engraved inside of it, Italy”, grew to love the city in his later years and died in the vast Palazzo Ca’ Rezzonico in 1889. A plaque on the wall outside pays homage to his time there:
Yet perhaps the greatest and most enduring symbol of Venice is that of its winged lion and St. Mark.
The winged lion is often portrayed with an open book, bearing the Latin script ‘Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus’, meaning ‘Peace to You, Mark my Evangelist’, which tradition dictates were the words spoken by an angel to Mark after he became lost after being shipwrecked in the lagoon before resting in Venice.
The image of the lion became a symbol to represent strength and power and can still be seen on the flag of Venice today. Naturally then, it is depicted in various guises all over the city.
In my most recent visit, almost subconsciously, it became something of a mission to see how many incarnations I could capture on camera. I’m sure there are still many more awaiting discovery!