Travel Journal: Exploring Venice

Architecture, politics, art, religion, history and commerce are all so closely linked.

The historic city of Venice is famous for its winding canals and glorious art. So when Drill Hall Gallery Director TERENCE MALOON took a tour of gallery friends around the City of Bridges, EMILY CASEY, BAsiaPacific '11, BVA '11, was happy to get an expert's view and told her story in the new ANU Reporter.

Venice is a city on every traveller's wish list. A city of art and wonder. It was certainly near the top of mine. But how does one plan a trip to a place with such history and so much to see?

Do you use Donna Leon as a guide through the back streets following fictitious mysteries? Do you set yourself the goal of seeing every Veronese or Titian painting? Or will your focus be architecture, religion, history or trade?

Whatever the approach, when I closed my eyes and imagined myself in Venice, I was never surrounded by visor-wearing, cargo-pant clad tourists, squeezed between backpacks and camera straps, straining to hear over-rehearsed words from a tour guide, with a flag held high.

A font of artistic knowledge

Having now seen Piazza San Marco, I realise just how fortunate I was to join a tour led by Terence Maloon, Director of the Drill Hall Gallery, and the group's font of knowledge for four days.

Terence was in Venice as he helped curate the Charles Pollock: A Retrospective exhibition at the Venice Guggenheim.

I knew Terence designs his tours for travellers not tourists: the distinction being the desire to experience, understand and make connections. To see with your eyes open and mind active.

With so much on offer, it's incredibly hard to know where to start. So we dived straight in and quickly realised that there really is no other way to do it.

Architecture, politics, art, religion, history and commerce are all so closely linked. We learned that the porphyry stone on buildings and sculptures signifies status and wealth and is one example of the complex relationship between politics, power and artisans operating in the unique social and cultural environment of Venice.

Appreciating the Venetian marble

Such an all-encompassing, interdisciplinary approach to travel was refreshing. As Terence's enthusiasm and knowledge rubbed off, we started to develop our own confidence, ask questions and make observations.

On day one, Terence met us at our hostel and the tour started with an espresso and a chat about what we hoped to see.

What we didn't realise was that we were also waiting for the sun to get to just the right spot to fully appreciate the light on the marble of the Santa Maria dei Miracoli.

Download our free ANU Reporter app to continue reading Casey's travel diary.

Each new edition will automatically download to your Newsstand.

Don't have a tablet or an Android phone?

Subscribe to receive the next print edition of ANU Reporter.