Friday, September 6, 2013

Venice Highlights (9/6/2013)

Friday, September 6, 2013
Believing a hotel is only a place to sleep at night, we tend to be cheap. We outdid ourselves in Venezia/Venice, staying at the Ostello/Hostel Domus Civita:
Right over the main doorway it proclaims itself as student housing:
We had a 4th floor (i.e., in Europe that is the 5th floor) triple room:
I used the sheets to make up two of the beds.
The toilet and shower rooms were down the hall:
No soap or shampoo provided.
There was a meeting room:
A TV lounge:
And apparently a kitchen you could use.
A sun terrace:
This has to be an antique Otis elevator:
If all the doors were not closed properly, the elevator would not operate. Several times we had to start climbing the stairs to our room, only to find on the 2nd or 3rd floor that the door hadn't been shut. Aargh!
Views from the room:
There was no air conditioning (not even fans), but fortunately there were cool breezes at night. However, open windows let in mosquitoes and the voices of late-night revelers.
But think of the money we saved!
Okay, let's go pick up Kent from the airport on the mainland. From Piazzale Roma, we can catch the #5 bus.
Sometimes it is the "Aerobus," which has shelving for suitcases.
The Marco Polo Airport is not very big:
A couple young men were packing up their bicycles:
Once Kent arrived and checked into the Ostello Domus Civita, we set off:
There are water fountains all over Venice:
Apparently the water is cold and potable.
Chiesa di San Rocco/Church of Saint Roch or Rocco (1489-1508 by Bartolomeo Bon il Giovane):
The facade, designed by Bernardino Maccarucci, dates from 1765 to 1771.
My notes indicated there was a rose window; this is what we found over a side entrance:
Saint Rocco is invoked against the plague, as he miraculously survived a plague, and is usually depicted exposing a plague sore on his left thigh.
A man was singing operatic arias in the church square:
When he took a break, he went "home" through the gate behind him.
Next door is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco/Confraternity of Saint Rocco:
Most of the churches in Venice have an accompanying Scuola or guild that took care of charitable works.
Construction started in 1515, attributed to Bartolomeo Bon. Three other architects followed him until the building was completed in 1560.
Scuola di San Rocco is known for its interior decoration. The walls and ceilings of two stories are covered with paintings. The story is that the Scuola was going to have a competition to choose an artist to do the paintings. But Tintoretto (born Jacopo Comin, 1518-1594) executed a large painting and donated it to the Scuola. I think they felt obligated to award him the project.
We were in Venice during the Biennale. Founded in 1895, the International Art Exhibition is put on every two years. It has expanded into other areas including architecture, cinema, dance, music, and theater. Auxiliary exhibitions are held in all the museums as well. The Scuola featured art of Emilio Vedova (1919-2006), a Modernist who had done studies of the Tintoretto paintings.
We decided to eat lunch at Trattoria San Toma in Campo San Toma/Saint Thomas Square which is dominated by the former Chiesa di San Toma/Church of Saint Thomas (the Apostle):
Established in the 10th century, it was reconstructed 1652 on a design by Baldassare Longhena.
Across the square is the Scuola dei Calegheri/Guild of the Cobblers or Shoemakers:
See the shoes?
We were not in Venice during the time of Carnevale, the Mardi Gras of Italy. But Kent could have worn a costume like this:
Pleasant outdoor terrace at the restaurant:
We had anchovy pizza and Caprese salad.
We noticed that most of the doorbells had speakers, and that the Lion of St Mark had a pacifier in his mouth:
Next was the Casa di Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793, Venetian playwright):
This is the canal entrance:

Which brings you to the central courtyard with a well and outdoor staircase:
The house displays theater sets from various plays written by Goldoni.
There is a puppet theater:
With puppets depicting another of his plays, The Servant of Two Masters, written in 1745:
There seems to be Chinglish in Italy, too:
As well as knock-offs.
Hey, it's a UPS boat!
We took the vaporetto/water bus down to Piazza San Marco.
James Franco and Kent:
The view across the Basin of St Mark to San Giorgio Maggiore:
Built in 1566-1610, it was designed by Andrea Palladio. You can see the controversial sculpture titled Breath: Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn. I am not sure if the controversy is that a naked woman is situated in front of a church, or that the subject has phocomelia, a congenital disorder resulting in no or malformed limbs.
A large yacht:
It was the last couple days of the International Film Festival, but we don't know which movie stars are still in town.
We walked along the Basin, first passing the Ponte dei Sospiri/Bridge of Sighs:
Then we tried to see the courtyard of the Hotel Danieli:
When the doorman asked if we were guests: well, no, but I wanted to see the mask shop on the 3rd floor. There are no stores here, I was told... as we were herded back out the door.
Okay, it wasn't exactly a mask shop. It was an "atelier for the rental of costumes."
Equestrian statue of Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878):
He was the first king of united Italy and is called the father of the country.
View down a side canal:
Yes, the campanile/bell tower of San Giorgio dei Greci/Greek Orthodox Church of Saint George is leaning.
Santa Maria della Visitazione or Pieta:
Built in 1745-1760, designed by Giorgio Massari, with a bas relief depicting Charity:
The church is best known as the home of composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) and his female music ensembles. However, you can see that the church was built after Vivaldi died. Vivaldi was a violin teacher employed by the Ospedale della Pieta, an orphanage connected to the church. Many of his sacred compositions were written for the ensembles who performed locally and internationally.
As we walked along the St Mark Basin, we saw a few handbag vendors grab their things and dash off. Then along came a uniformed policeman. Minutes later we saw the officer chasing one of these sidewalk vendors. But soon enough they were back in business:
First stop at Piazza San Marco/St Mark's Square is the amazing Palazzo Ducale/Palace of the Doges (as seen from the vaporetto):
This is one of only a few buildings that can call itself a palazzo. Built and rebuilt over time, what we see is Venetian Gothic in style. Having deciding to extend the building on the basin side, the new windows to the left had to be at a different level to accommodate a room with a higher ceiling:
On the SE corner of the palace is a sculpture of the Drunkenness of Noah:
Kent with the Campanile/bell tower behind him:
The sculpture on the SW corner is The Fall of Adam & Eve (1400-10) by Giovanni Bon and Filippo Calendario:
Baseless columns on the Piazzetta San Marco side:
Balcony, above which Doge Andrea Gritti is kneeling before the Lion of St. Mark:
The sculpture on the NW corner is Judgment of Solomon (1430s) by Bartolomeo Bon and Nanni di Bartolo:
The Porta della Carta/Gateway of Paper or Documents (1438-42) by Giovanni and Bartolomeo Bon:
This time it is Doge Francesco Foscari kneeling before the Lion.
Entering the courtyard, you see the Porticato Foscari (with the clock on the left) leading to the Arch of Foscari (in the center; we are looking at one side of the arch) and the Scale dei Gigante/Giants' Stairway (to the right):
Behind them are the domes of Basilica di San Marco/St Mark's Basilica.
The Arch of Foscari:
Scale dei Gigante/Giants' Stairway (1483-85 by Antonio Rizzo) with statues of Mars and Neptune (1554-67 by Jacopo Sansovino):
A slot to place your secret denunciation of another person:
Going up the Scale d'Oro/Golden Staircase:
Be sure to look back and up!
Okay, photos are no longer allowed...
The tour of the Palazzo Ducale/Palace of the Doges takes you through the administrative rooms, the Doge's apartments, and across the Ponte dei Sospiri/Bridge of Sighs to the prisons. All the great artists and sculptors have helped to decorate the place.
We did have great view from the palace of San Giorgio Maggiore:
Of the walkway along the basin:
Including a peek at a wedding:
What is a Doge? Doge is the Venetian word for "duke," although a Doge is not a traditional hereditary duke. He was the elected-for-life chief magistrate of the Venetian Republic (c. 700-1797).
It was time for a break, so we sat at the outdoor tables of Caffe Florian in the Piazza:
A music ensemble was playing classical music, and when we learned there was a surcharge of $10 per person just because of the music, we left to go to the competition, Caffe Quadri:
We knew the drinks were going to be expensive anyway... 
Caffe Quadri was the choice of the Austrians when they ruled Venice in the 19th century. The Venetians went across the Piazza to Caffe Florian.
Inside Caffe Quadri:
A beer and ginger ale for $30:
But wait! There are free chips and olives.
Piazza San Marco is the only piazza in Venice. Off the Piazza are a couple piazzettas/small squares. All the other squares in Venice are called campo or campiello.
Next around the Piazza is the Basilica di San Marco (1047):
Many of the mosaics on the facade were under wraps.
We can only see the one of The Deposition:
The main portal contains a mosaic of Christ in Glory; The Last Judgment with the four bronze horses above it:
These four horses were taken from Constantinople in 1204. In 1797, Napoleon had them sent to France, but they were returned in 1815. The originals are in the St Mark's Museum, while these are replicas.
Within each of the arches of the main portal are carved Three Kingdoms: Land, Ocean and Animal; the Labours of the Months, the Signs of the Zodiac, the Virtues and Beatitudes:
The Basilica was the only place where we had a queue to enter. You were corralled into the main church and not allowed to wander the narthex with its six domes and three arches of mosaics depicting stories from the Old Testament. You then had to travel along the outer aisles, so that it was difficult to see the domes in the center nave. The aisle mosaics showed Christ blessing the prophets, but most of the mosaics in the Basilica were of New Testament events, or of various saints. Entry was free, but a fee was charged to enter the Treasury and to see the Pala d'Oro, a Byzantine altarpiece. We spent most of our time looking upwards in awe.
Venetians stole the relics of St Mark from Alexandria in the year 828, and St Mark became the patron saint of the city state, knocking St Theodore out of contention..
Outside the Basilica, there are a couple of pillars pillaged from Acre:
And  the Four Tetrarchs taken from Constantinople:
To the left of the basilica is the Piazzetta dei Leoncini/Little Square of the Little Lions with two red lions:
Back in the Piazza, the Torre dell'Orologio/Clock Tower:
Large sculptures, representing youth and old age, strike the hours on the bell:
Because they have darkened over time, they are often referred to as Moors.
As well as showing the hours and minutes, the clock shows the current sign of the zodiac and moon phases.
At the far end of the Piazza, we went to the Museo Correr in the Ala Napoleonica/Napoleonic Wing. The Correr Museum continues through the Museo Archeologico/Archaeological Museum and the Biblioteca Marciana/Library of St Mark. We saw collections of paintings and sculptures, maps and globes, coins, ship models, weapons and armor, Greek, Roman and Egyptian artifacts, and the living quarters of the last of the Hapsburgs, Empress Elisabeth known as Sissi.
Feeding the pigeons in St Mark's Square (and all of Venice) has been banned since 2008:
But the pigeons are still looking for handouts.
The Campanile/Bell Tower of St Mark's Square (1912):
The bell tower had to be rebuilt because it collapsed in 1902, an event recorded in photographs. The first tower had been built in 912, and it was reconstructed several times after that.
Wedding photos:
Now to the Piazzetta San Marco, with its two columns:
One is topped by the Lion of St Mark:
The other by the former patron saint of Venice, San Teodoro/Saint Theordore:
The warrior saint appears to have vanquished a crocodile (representing a dragon).
We exited the Piazza under the clock tower and walked along the Merceria, the street of shops:
A shop window with miniature figures:
Tamiko at the Ponte di Rialto/Rialto Bridge:
The two rows of shops on the bridge:
Looking down on a vaporetto/water bus from the Rialto Bridge:
The Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge:
Campo di San Giacomo di Rialto/St James of Rialto Square, where someone is filling his water bottle from the fountain:
Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto/St James of Rialto Church (1601) with a 15th century clock:
Gobbo di Rialto/Hunchback of Rialto:
Announcements were made from this stand.
We couldn't find a recommended bacaro/wine bar, but ended up at Osteria all Ciurma which served wine and had excellent cicchetti/tapas:
From the top: a cheese and salami bruschetta/grilled bread, a fried liver polpette/ball, a cuttlefish with prosciutto and eggplant bruschetta, fried calamari, and a potato polpette.
Today we saw five of the top ten venues in Venezia: Piazza San Marco, Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale, Canal Grande, and Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
Tomorrow, more art.

1 comment:

Brian Moriarity said...

Your photos are wonderful and thanks to you I have been reliving my own memorable trips to this magical city.
Thank you!