The quiet Old Court lies hidden in the midst of Sestiere d’San Marco, Venice, Italy. In reality, Corte Vecchia is a wide, dead-end street, often labeled a “Ramo” in Venice. A ramo is often not a “dead-end”, since the water street of a canal often brings life to one extremity. Some became pedestrian throughways when adjacent islands were linked by new bridges during centuries of growth. This one has only a narrow opening from Calle Pelestrine and ends without announcement into Rio de Ca’Garzoni. Between lies a surprisingly sunny space despite the tall houses lining the place.
This is a small street with not more than a dozen doorways (one now sealed) defining and protecting life and relationships within the dwellings, and no pozzi or well with easy access to domestic water. The residences on the south side of the Corte have a narrow back alley. Those on the north open through to Rio de Ca’Garzoni and provide views across it to the massive high wall of Casa Nardi (or is it Narisi – mysteries abound in Venice).
Corte Vecchia is rumored to be the Venetian hide-away for at least one Notable International Writer, but the place keeps its secrets well.
Perhaps a writer pondering work in progress is gazing out across Rio de Ca’Garzoni, across to the high wall of Casa Narisi (or is it Nardi – mysteries abound in Venice) dominating the right half of the building wall confronting them, and has seen the seven small square, ground floor windows there.
Perhaps, as watchful eyes follow the ebb and flow of commuters across the Fondamente, they notice that the windows seem to each have a different grillage design, wonder why, and wonder what is around the corners to the right and the left of them. Does it help to know that there may be thirty of these apparently identically sized openings, none revealing the secrets within?
Are the grills all different, or is there a repeating pattern? Why do the stone surrounds vary as well, and not just on the different elevations of the building perimeter but sometimes in closer proximity?
Or, perhaps they focused on the much older building to the left, awkwardly linked under its canted sottoportego by steep steps and two bridges of late vintage – pondering whether the massive structure to the right had usurped home ground for a similar, less “modern” palazzo. Casa Narisi (or is it really Nardi?) looks ancient because of its Venetian-Byzantine design style, yet was constructed only 100 years ago – still new by Venetian standards.
Stroll down Calle Pestrin some day, and pause to look down and through Corte Vecchia. Some will be drawn in by the intrigue promised in its narrow reveal of the sunny space beyond and forced perspective pulling the eye to its other portal to the canal beyond. The eye seems compelled to glide over the dozen doorways, unaware of the centuries of living within its little enclave. A sealed door is always a concern, recalling from dark corners of memory Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”. Rumors abound, and Corte Vecchia keeps its secrets well.
The writer knows, however, aware of what lies within Corte Vecchia, the key to the enigma and mystery of the place. Just don’t push any doorbell buttons or knock on any doors…
…Particularly the sealed-up door.