Marco Gaggio‘s (@neumarc) City Perspectives series focuses on his unique experiences in his home city of Venice, Italy.
Be sure to check back on Friday, November 14th for Part II of this series.
How long have you lived in your city and what is your profession?
I was born and raised in Venice and currently work as an architect and photographer.
If you could capture the essence of your city in one word, what would it be and why?
Light. Depending on the seasons, the days, and even the hours, the city changes and reshapes itself in dramatic ways because of the light. The water reflects the sun, clouds and sky, often causing unexpected shadows to appear on facades and stones. By night, the soft lighting of streetlights provides a romantic and gentle mood that transports you back in time to the age of “La Serenissima”. It feels as though you are waiting for Casanova to appear from behind the next corner.
Describe the first place you’d bring an out-of-town guest. Why would you take them there before anywhere else?
I would bring an out of town guest Giudecca, an island just off the coast of Venice where you can see the most beautiful view of the city and still feel the traditional Venitian way of living. It’s a quiet and inspiring place, full of local people and cozy bars that offer views of the Giudecca canal.
Is there a tourist attraction that even locals (perhaps secretly) love?
One of the most beloved places for locals is the island of Torcello and its ancient Basilica. The place is amazing: it’s a strip of land that seems to settle just between the water and the sky, almost completely uninhabited. Venetians love it not only for its beauty and byzantine mosaic, but because it reminds them of their origins; of how they are strongly connected to the lagoon.
What’s a signature dish in your city and where’s the best spot to find it?
One of my favorite dishes in the city is the “Seppie in Nero”; it literally means cuttlefish in black. It’s a traditional seafood plate and I really love the taste and the color. One of the best ready-to-eat “Seppie in Nero” is from a delicatessen shop called “Gislon,” just few steps away from Rialto Bridge.
How would you describe the locals in your city?
Venetians are very polite and reserved people, though we are also known to gossip about each other as through we are in one of Goldoni’s theatricals play. More recently, perhaps because of mass tourism, people have become a bit tougher, rougher around the edges. I’m afraid the abundance of tourism through Venice is pushing a lot of locals out of the city; we’re becoming a dying breed of sorts.
Where’s your favorite place for an outdoor run?
The best place for an outdoor run along Zattere to the “Punta della Dogana”. It’s about 1.5 miles along. You can enjoy the view of the “Bacino San Marco” before returning back through the tiny streets of the Salute neighborhood. Julia Roberts even did some morning jogging there in the Woody Allen comedy “Everyone says I Love You”.
Where’s the best spot to see your city from above?
Though many may think that the best place to see the city from above is the San Marco belfry tower, it is, in fact, the San Giorgio, which provides a beautiful view over the city and the lagoon. I’d urge you to visit during sunset for an almost transcendental experience.
How do you think that the beat or style of the city has informed your style as a photographer?
Venice is a magical city and every day I am newly inspired by it. The fact that the city sits on the water shapes the way you think, the way you act, the way you are, simply because everyday things – simple things – are so different compared to other cities. Consider something as mundane as going grocery shopping: without any cars, we have to carry all that weight with our own hands, walking from place to place. It keeps us fit, certainly, but it means we have to be creative with where we go when, and how we get around. I suppose that aspect teaches you how to be patient and makes you feel introspective and melancholic, two elements that I think are reflected in my photography. Venice is a beautiful city but locals often struggle to live here. I think my photos capture the beauty of the surroundings and embed some of those tougher emotions.
If you had to identify one object or image that personifies your city, what would it be?
I always identify Venice with a fish, not only because the city resembles that shape in its layout, but because fish is such a staple of Venice life and diet, usually sourced from the Mediterranean Sea.
Stay tuned for Part II of this series, posting live on Friday, November 14th.