VENICE, BRODSKY... TBILISI
16 September, 2010
VENICE, BRODSKY... TBILISI

I am staying now in Venice, the most beautiful city in the world, maybe. Why maybe? Because I love Tbilisi more than any other city on this planet. And I am comparing these two cities all this time while I’m staying here and seeing so many tourists in Venice.



Venice is really fascinating, intoxicating, awaking imagination in all seasons. Even in December it is good for visiting. No wonder poet Joseph Brodsky preferred to stay here in December. Because it

is even more romantic without crowds. Yes, these crowds are too heavy in September, as my friend Tornike Kopaleishvili agreed with me (he has spent a week with me here.)  One can hardly breathe due to the throngs on San Marco Square, on Realto and Accademia bridges where people are pressing each other when they try to get through. It’s not exciting at all, there are too many of them. And new planes, trains and ocean vessels are arriving every day bringing more visitors. Only on Lido Island, opposite San Marco Square, in the Venice’s region famous for its sandy beaches and the home for the Venice International Film Festival (the last one was held several days ago) one can breathe normally. I will move there soon, having found a room in a hotel two hundred yards from the Adriatic Sea. Though the location of my current Messner Hotel is not bad at all because this quarter is less overcrowded, and what is so important to me, just around the corner of Embankment of Incurables. This street, with bridges and historic mansions, is well-known now due to Joseph Brodsky’s essay (and the book under this title.) I mean, The Embankment of Incurables, the best piece among his writings on Venice. But why Incurables? This name seems romantic. Who were they? Suffering from unshared love or despair? Is it a metaphor? Not at all! Centuries ago this embankment was known for a hospital for people suffering from typhus epidemics. When they were diagnosed as incurable and dying, they were moved to this hospital.
Centuries later the street’s tragic history was somehow forgotten. The embankment was renamed, but the poet restored its name in his prose, and now the embankment bears the old name due to him, and one can see a memorial plate on its wall with the Nobel Prize winner’s profile and dedication in two languages, Italian and Russian. His love for his mother country was really incurable. Joseph Brodsky, rejected by Russia, thrown away from his beloved country by the Kremlin, was buried in Venice, according to his will. I can speak for a long time about this enchanting city, with all its fantastic monuments, palaces, canals and narrow streets. But one thought never leaves me. Why wouldn’t people from all over the world wish to visit Georgia’s capital city? It has so many attractions too! I don’t want Tbilisi to be as overcrowded by tourists as Venice is now, but the flow of tourists to it should grow – for honeymooners, young couples, students, retirees, lovers of tasty food, wine, and art. It has to be also a world-known center of film, theater, dance festivals, artistic exhibitions, sporting, trade, technical fairs and competitions, and international conferences. Much is to be done for that purpose, building modern infrastructure, restaurants and hotels, sporting grounds and festival halls, etc. I am sure the day will come when Tbilisi, like Venice, will invite thousands and thousands of guests. Not as many, save God, but quite a number too, helping to make Georgia prosperous.

 

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