I have just finished to read a very nice book, a sentimental guide about Venice, Cercando Venezia (Seeking Venice) by Paolo Ganz.
In one of the pages the author refers to the town using a beautiful Venetian term: fora squara (crooked). An expression that has stroken and enchanted me as, I think, that it cannot be more appropriate for Venice.
The town is built on unstable ground and not even the petriefied forest that lies underneath it is able to completely sustain buildings straight up.
Walls must be elastic in order to adapt to the movements of the soil. Sometimes it seems as if they fall in and sometimes as if they fall out, ready to drop on you. They never have a right angle and to furnish a room might result as a challenge.
Crooked are also the bridges. A lot of them are crossing the canals in diagonal lines as many were built in a second moment in order to connect two alleys that were not supposed to be joint.
Canals and streets look like creeping snakes playing in the light or shade. Canals still show the curved line of rivers and streets always adapt to the shape of the water.
Not even pavements are nice and flat. They always present a little hill in the centre and when there is high water Venetians always know not to walk against the buildings where water might certainly be deeper and with more chances to get into your Wellington boots.
Windows, doors, belltowers and chimneys always tilt on one side and they seem as if they making fun of you, pretending you to think that, perhaps, you had too many spritzes and that you are unable to see things under the right prospect.
Fora squara has also the significance of “kind of strange” and it is this binomial that has charmed me so much. The association of the architectural aspect with the mood and attitude meaning is so lovely and fun. Venice, the town where everything and everybody are fora squara and certainly, you cannot blame Venetians to be like this. You need to be a little strange to live in such a different place.
To conclude, I cannot restrain myself from telling you about the way directions are given by the Venetians to people. Something that sounds like a joke: “Straight on over the bridge”.
Ganz P., Cercando Venezia, Mare di Carta Edizioni, Venezia, 2015.