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July 2008 Archives

July 2, 2008

San Moise

San Moise

A wooden church dedicated to San Vittore was built on this location in the 8th century; it was rebuilt in 947 by Venetian nobleman Moise Venier who rededicated it to his name saint, Moses (San Moise). This is one of several churches in Venice dedicated to Jewish Old Testament heroes who technically weren’t Christians at all (Moses, Job, Jeremiah, Samuel, Zachariah).

The church we see today was built in 1628 and its crazy over-the-top façade added in 1668. Public statues were more or less forbidden in Venice so families who wanted to immortalize themselves in stone could finance a church façade instead. Many of the scenes on this façade are connected to the lives of the Fini brothers, a “nouveau riche” Venetian family who had only recently bought their nobility from a cash-poor Republic that had started selling titles.

John Ruskin called it a “frightful façade.” W.D. Howells, American ambassador to Venice in the 19th century, described it as “in every way detestable.” Guilio Lorenzetti (author of Venice and Its Lagoon) more kindly called it “a confused, picturesque Baroque structure with superabundant decoration.” Hard to believe, but at one time there was even more junk on the front of this church – some sculptures fell off or were removed when they became dangerously loose.

And as if the church wasn’t bizarre enough – in May 1752 during a violent storm, the priest and his server were killed while celebrating Mass when a bolt of lightning came in through the roof and down through the metal cord of a hanging lamp.

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July 5, 2008

PhotoHunt: Pointed


This week's theme is "pointed" so I'm going with these two obelisks on the roof of the enormous Palazzo Balbi on the Grand Canal in Venice.

Obelisks were first seen on ancient Egyptian temples, where they were always in a pair just like these. Obelisk comes from a Greek word meaning "needle."

Have a nice weekend!

Palazzo Balbi

July 10, 2008

Mosaics in shrines

Some mosaic images inside Venetian street shrines. The second one is the French saint, Therese de Lisieux, also known as the Little Flower.

mosaic madonna

mosaic saint

This one is out on the island of Murano (an old photo that I scanned in with my new scanner). I want to get a better photo of this one next trip.


July 12, 2008

PhotoHunt: Support


This week's theme is "support." In this case, I'm not talking about the shrine (though that could work too) but rather that big staple-shaped metal thing above it. You see these all over the buildings of Venice - I'm not sure what it is exactly, but I think it's some kind of support to help hold those old buildings up. I imagine someone with a very large stapler walking around Venice!

Happy weekend!


July 13, 2008



These things crack me up. Maria is growing so fast but she has a ways to go to catch up to these enormous whiskers!

She and LuLu are completely bonded now - they are best friends. I saw LuLu try to groom Maria a few times but Maria wanted to play and wrestle instead, then one day when Maria was a little sleepy, she cuddled up to LuLu and let her lick her head.

Then a few days later, Maria was with me in the kitchen, and we went into the living room where LuLu was asleep on the couch. Maria jumped up, put her paw on LuLu's back and started grooming LuLu! LuLu was startled at first but then she relaxed and let the kitten do it. So sweet. And both of them groom me, so we are a clean and happy bunch.

jungle cat2


July 15, 2008

San Cristoforo

San Cristoforo

This lovely little church is out on the cemetery island, San Michele in Isola. Technically it’s part of Cannaregio since this island historically has been considered part of that sestiere but you do have to take the vaporetto out to visit it.

Before the fall of the Republic, there were two islands out here – San Michele and San Cristoforo della Pace, and both were monastery islands. Napoleon’s revamping of Venice included banning burials from Venice’s historic center and so after the monasteries were suppressed, the cemetery was moved out here and later, the two islands were merged into one.

There used to be two Renaissance churches here. The church called San Michele in Isola remains but the original San Cristoforo (built by the Lombardi family who also built Santa Maria dei Miracoli) was demolished and then rebuilt in the mid-19th century. So it’s another one of those so-called “modern” churches that’s now about 150 years old. I would love to know what the Lombardi church looked like and if anything from it was moved into the new church.

A view of the island from Fondamenta Nuove:

cemetary island

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July 17, 2008

Santissimo Redentore

Redentore by Canaletto

This weekend (July 19 and 20) is the Festa del Redentore (Feast of the Redeemer) in Venice, a celebration of thanksgiving for the end of a 16th century Black Plague epidemic. It’s one of Venice’s most popular holidays complete with fireworks, a temporary pontoon bridge from the Zattere to the church of the Redentore on Guidecca island, feasting and celebration on boats in the lagoon, and a high holy Mass with the Patriarch of Venice at the church.

Venice was hit by numerous plague outbreaks over the centuries, some more horrifying than others, and the one in 1575-77 was particularly bad, killing a third of the population (over 50,000 people including Titian). John Julius Norwich (The History of Venice) describes Venice as an eerie ghost town during this time, since anyone who could had fled the city, no businesses were open, and people were dying right and left. Imagine all the funerals (maybe the plague is one of the reasons that Venice has so many churches?).

So in September 1576, the Doge announced that the Republic intended to build a church dedicated to Christ the Redeemer to give thanks for deliverance from this plague. Now the plague wasn’t over when they made this vow – in a way, the government was using Field of Dreams “build it and they will come” positive thinking, along the lines of “if we thank you now, you’ll make it go away.”

A government negotiating with the Higher Power is so fascinating to me, having been raised on the whole “separation of church and state” thing. It would be like George Bush (sorry, bad example but he’s what we’ve got now) going on TV tonight to announce that we are going to build a great cathedral to celebrate the end of global warming. Hey, maybe it’s not such a bad idea!


Continue reading "Santissimo Redentore" »

July 19, 2008

PhotoHunt: What IS that???


This week's theme is "What IS that?"

What do you think? Continue reading for one theory...


Continue reading "PhotoHunt: What IS that???" »

July 22, 2008

Archangel Michael and the Dragon

Archangel Michael and dragon

Continuing with the dragon theme, here's a mosaic in Basilica di San Marco. This one has a loop in his tail too but not a double spiral like the dragon-snake.

July 26, 2008

PhotoHunt: Hanging


This week's theme is "hanging."

Here are a few things that were hanging in the Magic Wings Butterfly House at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC.




Happy weekend folks!

July 30, 2008

Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet

strawberry buttermilk sherbetI enjoy reading all the food/recipe posts on other Slow Travelers' blogs so I thought I’d contribute one too. This sherbet is so delicious and very easy to make (the recipe came from Southern Living magazine). It was my first ever attempt at making a frozen dessert – I borrowed a friend’s ice cream maker and now I’m thinking about buying one of my own. I’m so tempted to join the Sunday Slow Scoopers but I just don’t need to have a new batch of ice cream in the house every week!

This sherbet recipe is guilt-free – I used organic low-fat buttermilk which drastically lowers the calorie count. I don’t like buttermilk by the way, but you can’t tell this has buttermilk in it once it’s done. The buttermilk gives it an element of creaminess that sorbets and ices don’t have but the main thing you taste is intense strawberry! And it’s such a beautiful deep pink color.

I’m going to make it again soon with either blueberries or blackberries, both of which are in season in NC right now. Might try it with peaches too.


2 cups fresh strawberries*
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Process strawberries in a food processor or blender 30 seconds or until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. Pour strawberry puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing with back of a spoon. Discard solids. Add buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla to puree; stir until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Pour strawberry mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. (Instructions and times may vary.) Garnish with mint, if desired.

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

*1 (16-oz.) package frozen strawberries, thawed, may be substituted.

Update: Here's a photo of the same recipe made with blackberries.

This page contains all entries posted to Churches in Venice in July 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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