#wanderanywhere – a glimpse of the grittier side of Venice

Wandering Anywhere are (from left to right): Cailean Couldridge, Laura di Stefano and Hannah Alexandra Smith ©Laura di Stefano, 2015

For our first day as volunteers at the East Midlands Biennale Pavillion, a part of our group followed Angeles (another volunteer at the EM15 exhibition) in order to discover The Hidden Histories of Venice through the Wander Anywhere App.
Wander Anywhere is an App that allow people to follow specific pathways and discover the secret side of places sharing these in social networks such as Instagram or Twitter. As a part of the EM15 exhibition, with Wander Anywhere is possible to follow the Hidden Histories of Venice tour that connects the Dough Fishbone’ s Leisure Land Golf projects with the local history and the less known side of the city. The content for the app was developed as a collaboration between a venetian Renaissance art historian, Dr Gabriele Neher, and a mobile technology and map expert, Dr Laura Carletti, and brings this interdiscipinary spin to bear on the stories told.

©Laura di Stefano, 2015
©Laura di Stefano, 2015

In this exciting tour, departing from the island of San Pietro di Castello, we explored the story of the Pietra del bacio or Stone of the Kiss, an ancient and white piece of rock used in the past as a part of an important religious ritual involving both the Patriarch of Venice (whose seta was on the isalnd) and the Doge. It seems that the Patriarch, prior to the celebration of the holy mass in the eponymous church of San Pietro di Castello, waited for the arrival of the Doge and the Signoria at  that point and kissed the stone as sign of welcome.
Our tour continued through the Canale di S. Pietro where we discovered the importance of Venetian bridges and boundaries, which in the past were used often to indicate specific limits or to connect different parts of the lagoon.

©Laura di Stefano, 2015
©Laura di Stefano, 2015

We followed the route until Via Garibaldi, having fun with the “Wealth and Waste” hidden history and investigating the scarce consideration of the “squat position” in art history.

To continue discovering the secret side of Venice, we followed the tour and walked along the edge of the Bacino,  enjoying the sea breeze and the sight of Venice’s skyline, especially noting San Marco and its distinctive Campanile.  We reached soon the next steps such as the Marriage of the Sea and the Cruise Ship dilemma that remember us how much is fragile the ecosystem of the lagoon and which dangerous impact the cruise ships may have on it. It was entirely coincidental  but, just right at that moment, an enormous cruise ship passed in front of us, confirming the concerns about the environmental impact of these ships the app had just told us about!

©Laura di Stefano, 2015
©Laura di Stefano, 2015

Our interesting tour continued towards the Giardini of the Biennale where we heard stories about the pleasures of the isle of Lido and the isle of St. Elena. The tour was captivating and despite the high temperatures, we did not realize that we walked for such  a long time! Indeed, it was interesting to know more about not only hidden histories of Venice but also about their connection with contemporary art in the EM15 exhibition.

Laura di Stefano


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