50th Birthday in Venice

Venice Grand Canal from San Giorgio

For my birthday, Ron and I rode the vaporetto (water bus) to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore to see its namesake renaissance church designed by Andrea Palladio. I studied Palladio when I was in architecture school, but I’d never experienced one of his buildings in person before.

What makes Palladio’s work distinctive is his reliance on geometry and mathematical equations to define what goes where and how large it is. Everything is parallel and symmetrical and sized proportionately to everything else. For instance, the arches supporting the dome in the center of the church have the same radius as the dome itself.

Palladio San Giorgio interior

The result is an immense sense of order, formality, and grandeur. As I stepped inside I looked up at the graceful columns, forward at the rhythmically repeated archways. The scale and grandeur of the interior made me feel small and humble, yet part of something bigger. The way you feel when you really look at the stars.


I marveled that this church was built in the mid 16th century. It has certainly aged with grace. I hope I can do the same.

Not that I’m planning to be around for 500 years. But you know what I mean.

Before we left the church, we took a quick elevator ride to the top of the bell tower. We peered across the lagoon at Piazza San Marco and the rest of Venice.

Piazza San Marco from San Giorgio

Beautiful. Or rather: Bella! Bella!

Tomorrow we tour the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

A gondola ride comes the day after.

This is a very happy birthday indeed.

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