To wrap-up this little series on “Leos in Art,” let’s return to Venice—the city of St. Mark and his lion.
Last month, my partner and I ended our summer holiday with a few days in Venice. Having been there a couple of times previously, we steered-clear of the well-worn “highlights,” choked with summer tourists (including “art pilgrims” visiting the Venice Biennale).
We stay at a lovely little place called the Hotel Bucintoro, near the Arsenale vaporetto stop. It’s on the canal, close to the water bus, has a handsome, masculine decor—not to mention killer views!—and yet it is just far enough away from Piazza San Marco to enjoy a sense of quiet. What I like the best is that the Bucintoro lies on the cusp of the more-residential Castello neighborhood. Each day, instead of heading west (towards the wonderful tourist sites), we’d head east to the Giardini Pubblici—a little reprieve of green wedged into the stoney Venetian cityscape. The main street through the Castello is the Via Garibaldi where neighborhood locals walk, eat and shop. Here one can find a little supermarket, a good sandwich, or a cheap bottle of (good) wine.
Linking the Via Garibaldi and the Giardini Pubblici, is a little tree-canopied path called the Viale Garibaldi. At the head of this walkway stands a monument to one of Italy’s great heroes, Giuseppe Garibaldi (1802-1887). Garibaldi, a military general and politician, is one of Italy’s “fathers of the fatherland.” He worked to unify the country (known as the “Risorgimento”) in the 19th century and is a very popular figure in modern Italian history. Squares, streets and monuments—all over the country—bear his name or likeness.
In this particular monument, Garibaldi stands atop an overgrown rock, at his feet, a recumbent bronze lion. Turtles and fish splash in the pond below. Here’s a photo close-up of the proud lion’s profile.