No other city in the world stirs the imagination quite like Venice. For over six centuries, this tiny republic set down in a muddy 1)lagoon at the head of the Adriatic Sea, was a global super power. Comprising some 100 low lying islands linked together by a 2)labyrinthine network of canals, Venice stands today untouched by time like some magical kingdom on the water.
The origins of Venice go back to the breakup of the Roman Empire in the fifth and sixth centuries AD. Hoping to escape successive waves of hostile 3)barbarian invaders sweeping down from the north, villages and townspeople from the mainland sought refuge on the islands of the Venetian Lagoon. The move to the lagoon was 4)fortuitous, and in time, the settlement began to grow in size and stature. With no 5)hinterland and surrounded on all sides by water, there was very little that these early Venetians could do but to take to the sea. By the ninth century, Venetian merchant adventures had established themselves as major players in a 6)lucrative trade between East and West. And Venice, now a flourishing city, had taken on a shape and form that has little changed until today.
The undisputed heart of Venice has always been St. Mark’s Square. Since the earliest days, this has been the city’s principal gathering place, where festivals were held and official ceremonies, including public executions, took place. Today, it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the city.
The Venetians knew the key to their success was their naval power. So they 7)embarked on a project of 8)colossal scale that would enable them to expand their ship-building capacity. The result was the largest industrial complex of the mediaeval era, The Arsenal of Venice. By the mid 14th century, the Arsenal covered some 110 acres, representing over 15% of the entire city area. Here, hidden behind fortified walls, the republic built and maintained its 9)galleons, the ships that made up its navy and much of its commercial fleet. At its height, The Arsenal employed 16,000 workers and could turn out one galley a day. This was construction on an industrial scale and indeed it wouldn’t be matched again in Europe until the advent of the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th century.
The Rialto Market, centrally located along the eastern bank of the Grand Canal, sells some of the freshest fruit, vegetables and fish in the city. But for centuries, it was the 10)epicenter of Venetian commercial life. Merchant ships returning from the markets of the east, laden with silks, spices and other exotic commodities, would dock here to unload and dispose of their precious 11)cargoes.
Colonization of the Americas and the success of trade routes to the East that 12)circumnavigated Africa all challenged Venetian commercial supremacy. The republic was fast becoming an irrelevant 13)anachronism. The decline of Venice reached its lowest point in 1796 when the city surrendered to Napoleon Bonaparte. The Venetian Republic was no more.
Sitting here in Sr. Mark’s Square, once famously described by Napoleon as the “finest drawing room in Europe,” one is surrounded on all sides by evidence of Venice’s past glory. And for me at least, modern day Venice is always pervaded by a slight sense of melancholy, a sense of faded splendor, of irredeemable loss. A city that grew fabulously wealthy on its trade with the East, jealously defended by a formidable navy, now has to rely on a new kind of import: the foreign tourist. For all I know, they brings as much revenues as silks and spices ever did.
Venice is a city that can not change, must not change, if it is not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. The golden egg, of course, being the lucrative tourist trade. But this is not to suggest that Venice is some 14)stagnant backwater out of touch with modern times. With typical Venetian 15)pragmatism, the city has cashed in on its architectural legacy and rich artistic past to reinvent itself as a contemporary capital of the arts. Venice is not a living museum, nor are its citizens 16)superannuated fossils. Rather, they are modern Italians living modern Italian lives. They just happen to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. And who in their right mind is gonna change that?
威尼斯是个不能改变的城市，一定不要改变，否则就是杀死下金蛋的鹅。金蛋当然是指收益丰厚的旅游业。但这并不代表威尼斯是一潭死水，与时代完全脱节。带着威尼斯人典型的务实作风，这个城市懂得善于利用自己的建筑遗产和厚实的艺术根基，让自己变身为当代艺术都会。威尼斯并不是一座活人博物馆，威尼斯的居民也不是活化石。他们是现代意大利人，过的是现代意大利人的生活，只不过他们碰巧生活在这个世界上最美丽的城市之一里。如此美事，哪个脑筋正常的人想去改变？Julian Davison/文 来源：疯狂英语原声版
1) lagoon [lE5^u:n] n. 泻湖（浅水海湾因湾口被泥沙所封闭而形成的湖）
2) labyrinthine [7lAbE5rInWaIn] a. 迷宫似的，曲折的
3) barbarian [bB:5beErIEn] a. 野蛮的，粗鲁的
4) fortuitous [fC:5tju:ItEs] a. 偶然的，意外的
5) hinterland [5hIntElAnd] n. 海岸的后方地区，内地
6) lucrative [5lu:krEtIv] a. 有利的，赚钱的
7) embark [Im5bB:k] v. 开始，着手搞
8) colossal [kE5lɒs(E)l] a. 巨大的，庞大的
9) galleon [5^AlIEn] n. 大型帆船
10) epicenter [5epIsentE(r)] n. 中心
11) cargoes [5kB:^EJ] n. （船、飞机所载的）货物
12) circumnavigate [s\:kEm5nAvI^eIt] v. 环航
13) anachronism [E5nAkrEnIz(E)m] n. 过时或不合时宜的人或事物
14) stagnant [5stA^nEnt] a. 不流动的；停滞的
15) pragmatism [5prA^mAtIz(E)m] n. 实用主义
16) superannuated [7sju:pEr5AnjJeItId] a. 陈旧的，过时的