In my Renaissance and Reformation course this week, we did a quick tour of the major Italian city-states. One of the most distinctive, of course, is Venice, on account of all the canals. You know its Venice when you see a gondolier, sporting a horizontally striped shirt and straw hat, standing at the rear of his boat and propelling it with a rowing oar. Two such images that came immediately to mind:
This prompted a search on YouTube for Venetian scenes. The Casino Royale reboot (2006), with its famous sinking piazza, was the one most people know:
I had forgotten the chase scene in Moonraker (1979), perhaps the campiest James Bond film: among other contrivances, Roger Moore’s gondola turns into a hovercraft.
This aging Gen-Xer then remembered that Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” video was set in Venice – and had forgotten that it features a lion wandering around (later in the video, a man in a Venetian-style lion mask acts as her seducer).
I was pleased to see this, because the symbol of Venice of course is a lion – specifically, the winged lion of St. Mark. From Wikipedia, here is the flag of the medieval Venetian Republic:
Well played, Madonna! (St. Mark has been the patron saint of Venice ever since the Venetians stole his relics from Alexandria in 828. His symbol was inspired by Ezekiel’s vision of the four winged creatures, which was eventually applied to the authors of the four gospels.)