Venice Archives

November 9, 2007

Venice from Space

Venice Lagoon

Nice satellite photo of the lagoon.

November 20, 2007


Only a little over a week until I leave for Venice!

I’m pretty much ready, I think. Trip planning is easy when you’re returning to a place for the fifth time. I’ve got my church wish list ready. Going to think about packing once Thanksgiving is over. I’m taking carry-on luggage so I’ll have to do some paring down, I’m sure. Biggest dilemma is how many books to take and which ones. Books are heavy and I always end up buying more when I’m there, so I’m going to have to leave some at home. Chow! Venice is definitely going along with Strolling Through Venice and Time Out. Oh and my battered and warped Knopf City Guide (I love this tiny book’s fold-out maps). I’ve got a new camera and have collected all the supplies for that. My first trip with a digital!

I’ve been enjoying this blog by Kathy (trekcapri), a fellow Slow Traveler who is blogging live from Venice right now. And I’m looking forward to having dinner with Joan (cubbies) and her husband at La Zucca (we met in that restaurant last year – a surprise unplanned GTG). Many thanks to MarciaB who gave me two Chorus Passes (I will put these to good use!) and also to Jill (softdrink) who sent me a couple of new Venice guidebooks (the AAA spiral guide is surprisingly good).

I haven't decided if I'm going to blog or not - going to wait and see if the spirit moves me once I'm there.

Last night I dreamed that I was walking down a dark calle towards Piazza San Marco, and I was filled with anticipation about seeing the Basilica again. But I woke up before I got there!

I can't wait to hear the bells. I would love to see some snow in Venice!

December 10, 2007

And now I'm home...

What an amazing trip! I keep thinking that someday I’ll go to Venice and feel complete and decide that it’s time to move on to another place. Well, it didn’t happen this time…I’m just as fascinated with that city as ever and already am thinking about when I can go back next year.

I didn’t get my wish to see snow, but that's okay. No acqua alta or rain either except for a soft drizzle one evening. Instead there were lots of cold but sunny days, perfect for taking photos of churches and cats and street shrines. I did LOTS of walking, and searching for some of the more obscure churches took me to places I’d never seen before. I went inside 45 churches! I know that sounds like a lot but that’s only about 4-5 per day. And I even discovered some new ones that I didn't know about....I'm going to have to go back and update my earlier blog entries that list "all" the churches.

A highlight for me was going to mass in Basilica di San Marco on Saturday, Dec. 8, the feast of the immaculate conception. The Patriarch of Venice performed the Mass and he’s just got good vibes overall– he even gave a message in English. The best part was that the Pala d’Oro was turned around and facing the congregation. This only happens on high holy days; I was so happy that I got to see it. All the lights were on and the mosaics were glowing, and there were flowers and incense and a choir singing up in the gallery…it was just so incredibly gorgeous in that great old cathedral.

I met so many wonderful people and connected with some old friends, and had some great food (my favorite restaurant, La Zucca, was closed for repairs; I sure did miss that pumpkin flan but it forced me to try some new places; reviews to come).

I just wasn’t inspired to blog while I was there. In fact, I spent ten days with no phone, no TV, no newspapers, and only about five minutes a day on the Internet to email my family and tell them that I was okay. It was a nice break from technology and the “real world”, and I think I needed it.

I did keep a journal and as soon as I gather my thoughts and organize my photos, I’ll have lots of stories to share. So stay tuned!

December 14, 2007

Cuore in mattone (heart in brick)

sotoportegoBefore my trip, I read a sweet little book called The Other Venice by Predrag Matvejevic, recently translated from Croatian to English. It’s a dreamy, poetic book by a guy who obviously loves Venice very much and loves obscure details as much as I do. Nice black-and-white photos by Sarah Quill too.

There’s a chapter about “wall flora,” the herbs and weeds that grow in the crevices of all those old buildings as well as info about the outdoor sculptures and reliefs all over the city. My favorite parts are the stories told to the author by an old blind Venetian man; this is one of them:

Near the Salizada del Pignater…as you pass through the Sotoportego dei Preti, you’ll come upon the “heart in brick” (cuore in mattone). Press it and make a wish; in a year at the most your wish will be answered, if it’s respectful and harms no one. The city’s old inhabitants have taught this to their grandchildren and they in turn to theirs. ‘Go and make sure it’s still there.’

Well, thanks to the maps on Venice Explorer and some good luck, I found the "heart in brick" in Castello not far from the church of San Giovanni in Bragora. And yes, I pressed it and made a wish. We’ll see what happens.


December 17, 2007

Angel with porcupines

Angel of Benediction in Castello

One of the things that makes Venice so magical for me are all of the “right place, right time” and “kindness of strangers” experiences I have when I’m there.

I spent the first three days of my trip roaming around Castello, a sestiere I’d spent little time in on previous trips. I'd read about this Angel of Benediction sculpture and managed to find it with only a normal amount of difficulty (in other words, I was very lost and then all of a sudden, I saw the angel!). It’s in a residential area north of the Arsenale on a calle that’s named for it.

So I was standing there looking at it, and an elderly Venetian gentleman came along. He began talking to me and when I told him that I was American, he switched to excellent English.

angel“I’m glad you found our angel,” he said, and proceeded to tell me the story. The Venetians stole the angel from Anatolia in Eastern Turkey, he said, and a family named Rizzo put in on the archway above the entrance to a sotoportego, along with the reliefs on either side. They don’t show up well in my photos, but the reliefs are porcupines (or maybe hedgehogs?), which was the insignia of this family. The man showed me the family’s palazzo which is one of the oldest in Venice (13th c.) and told me that the way to identify the oldest buildings is to look at the chimneys (the round ones are older than the more common tulip-shaped ones).

The man also told me that when Napoleon conquered the Venetian Republic and began taking art away, many Venetians began hiding their art, and the Rizzo family bricked up their porcupines. Then the family left or forgot, and the porcupines weren’t unearthed until about a hundred years later when some repair work was done on the sotoportego. He told me that there’s probably other street art in Venice that’s bricked over and hasn’t been re-discovered yet. I love the thought of that!

I spent a very pleasant 10 minutes or so with this very nice man who took the time to give me a little tour of his neighborhood. You can’t plan stuff like this, you can only be grateful when it happens.

Angel with porcupines

porcupine detail

Porcupine or hedgehog?

The World Heritage website has an article about the 1999 restoration of this angel.

December 20, 2007

Venice in December

Blue Xmas TreeI’ve been to Venice in September, October, May, and now twice in December, and winter is my favorite time to go. It’s less expensive, for one, and quieter, and much less crowded with no lines to get into places and no cruise ships dumping thousands of people out. It’s cold but not THAT cold and really, if I’m going to be walking for hours each day, I’d rather it be cold than hot. There are a few downsides too, like shorter days, no dueling orchestras in Piazza San Marco, and eating dinner inside (while it was warm enough to eat lunch outside a couple of times, it was much too cold to dine alfresco at night). But overall, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

One of the things I like most is seeing all the holiday lights and decorations. I love this little blue tree I found in a corte in Castello. Here are a few more photos.

The glass tree in Piazza San Marco by day


Continue reading "Venice in December" »

January 2, 2008

Restoration report

SalutebeehiveIt’s always interesting to check out the ongoing restoration work and see what’s covered and what’s been unveiled. Work is going on right now at three major landmarks: Piazza San Marco, the Salute, and the Accademia. The dome of the Salute looks like some kind of spaceship or alien beehive to me. Strangest scaffolding I’ve ever seen, and I didn’t see any work going on while I was there. I hope it’s really restoration work and not some kind of permanent metal brace to hold that beautiful dome up!

The Accademia, while still open, is completely shrouded with scaffolding and the inside is in a bit of disarray. This is a project I’m very excited about – they are expanding the museum in order to put more of the collection on display; evidently there’s quite a bit of art in storage (250 paintings!) which will be displayed when the work is done.

I feel a bit sorry for people who are visiting Venice for the first time because there’s a lot of work going on in Piazza San Marco and that first breath-taking view of the Basilica just isn’t there right now. There are fences and scaffolding around the flag poles in front, and several sections of the Basilica itself are covered up. And right before I left, they began fencing off the campanile in preparation for restoration work which is supposed to continue until 2009. You can see all the fencing and such on the webcam.

Manin tombIt’s always exciting to see the freshly restored stuff. There’s an unveiled section of the Basilica that I’d never seen before (the part with Daniele Manin’s tomb, see right). The façade of San Zaccaria was draped last year but it’s uncovered now and looks amazing, and the high altar of the Gesuiti is visible now in all its Rococo glory. I finally got to see the Bellini painting in the church of San Giovanni Grisostomo; it was gone for a couple of years while work was going on inside that church. I also saw the recently restored frescoes in the sacristy of San Salvador for the first time, and they are gorgeous!

Continue reading "Restoration report" »

January 12, 2008

Photos from my trip

I'm still going through my photos, sorting and figuring out which I want to print, and getting them named before I forget where I was.

I've put a few on Flickr if you'd like to take a look.

January 24, 2008

Church Vibes

Most churches are welcoming and just have good vibes overall; even after looking at the art, you want to linger because it feels good to be there. Sometimes I sit down and just soak up the overall energy, and end up leaving refreshed and restored. Isn’t that what a sanctuary is for? Plus, you can’t underestimate the importance of resting your feet in Venice, and a church is good place to do it.

Some churches actively recruit visitors (the 16 Chorus Pass churches, for example), and even some of the smaller neighborhood churches are very cordial to tourists with helpful signs and brochures in many languages. I visited the church of Ss. Apostoli one evening… music was playing, and the priest came up and introduced himself, thanked me for coming, and told me that he loved Beethoven. That church’s pamphlet describes all the art and then adds this nice little message:

Sister, Brother, now resume your way in peace. May you admire many other beautiful things created by men, but above all may you be a worker for peace, recognizing God's face in every man's face....

Most of the sacristans/attendants in the churches are very kind. On several occasions when I didn’t have coins for the light boxes and I’ve asked them for change, they’ve just turned the lights on for me for free. A very sweet monk in San Giorgio Maggiore let me go upstairs to see their Carpaccio. He didn’t speak any English – I showed him a postcard of the painting, and he smiled with recognition and took me to it. A lovable old lady in San Cassiano took me by the hand and walked me around the church, pointing out the Tintorettos and explaining them to me in a pretty incomprehensible mix of Venetian and English, but I appreciated her time and just kept smiling and nodding. The people who do speak English seem to love to talk about their churches. I had lots of questions about San Salvador, and the wonderful lady docent talked to me for about half an hour and then took me to the closed sacristy to see the recently restored frescoes.

But there are a few churches that don’t seem quite so thrilled about tourists tromping through. San Marcuola, for example, has a bunch of signs in many languages that say, “This is a church. It is NOT a museum or an art gallery, so shut up” or something to that effect, very stern! And the sacristan or attendant would not smile at me and watched me closely to make sure I didn’t deface a painting or something.

And then there’s San Moise, which has this big sign on the door that made me laugh! I tend to speed through the grouchy churches and linger longer in the nice ones.

San Moise

January 28, 2008

A Pile of Pigeons

pigeons sleeping

I saw so many beautiful things on my trip but also saw quite a few strange sights, and this is one of them. Late one night when I was walking through Piazza San Marco, I saw a crowd of people looking at something and went over to check it out. At first, I thought it was a pile of dead pigeon bodies that someone had swept up, but when I got closer, I could see them wriggling and realized that they were roosting to keep warm, just like in March of the Penguins! It was very cold that night, and it made me kind of sad that they didn’t have a better place to sleep than out in the open on the pavement.

I’m on the fence about Venice's pigeons. There are way too many of them, for one, and they are kinda nasty, and their poop is damaging to the buildings. And I don’t want them touching me. One day when I was eating lunch outdoors, a flock of them swarmed me and landed on me; one had the audacity to take a bite of my panini! I didn’t like it at all.

But on the other hand, there’s something goofy and endearing about them. I like to look at them, and some of them are beautifully colored, and I like the sound of their coos and the way they walk. And I especially love watching kids play with them and hearing all the laughter and excitement.

A friend in Venice told me about various unsuccessful attempts to get the population under control. Contraceptives in the birdseed didn’t work, and one time the authorities brought some falcons in, thinking a natural predator might help. Well, the pigeons and the falcons became friends!

San Marco

But they are not predator-free, as I learned in December. One afternoon in the Piazza, I saw a seagull eat a pigeon. I’ll spare you the description and just note that it was mercifully quick. But it kind of upset me, and then I had to think about the fact that “it’s nature” and lots of animals (including me) eat other animals. And it’s not like the pigeons are endangered or anything, but still, something about it made me sad. I don’t like seeing predator/prey footage on nature shows either; I usually close my eyes or change the channel.

On a happier note, here’s my favorite pigeon story from a previous trip (2006, I think). One day I went to Mass in Basilica di San Marco, and an elderly nun came and sat beside me. We were in the Madonna Nicopeia chapel which has an aisle down the middle, and Mass was well underway when a pigeon came strutting down that center aisle, walking straight towards the Madonna and the high altar. The nun and I looked at each other and both got tickled and had to cover our mouths to keep from laughing out loud. The priest just ignored it, and the pigeon took a sharp right at the altar and went somewhere else in the church. It was so funny to almost get rowdy in church with a nun!

February 2, 2008

Fantasy Art Game

A recent Daily Telegraph article listed the writer’s choices for the 30 Best Things in Italy. Three of them are in Venice, and two of those three are church-related: Santa Maria dei Miracoli (the church as a whole) and the Bellini altarpiece in the Frari. The third thing is “Venice at midnight.” All great things, for sure, though I’d have a tough time narrowing my Best of Venice list down to only three.

The writer also offers an interesting fantasy game:

“It's an idle game, but one I'm often tempted to play in Italian churches: if you could walk off with one painting, which would it be? It's a tough one, especially in Venice, where you're not exactly short of options.”

Hmm. This IS a tough one. There are a few paintings that I really love but I’d feel horribly guilty about taking, just because they belong in Venice and nowhere else. The Madonna Nicopeia in Basilica di San Marco; Titian’s Assunta in the Frari; any of the Bellini altarpieces…as much as I love these, I’d have to leave them where they are.

I’d probably choose Vincenzo Catena’s Vision of Santa Christina in Santa Maria Mater Domini. Or perhaps Carpaccio’s St. George and the Dragon in San Giorgio Maggiore (since there’s another one of the same subject in San Giorgio degli Schiavoni).

Or Titian’s Annunciation in San Salvador. Or the Negroponte Madonna and Child Enthroned in San Francesco della Vigna. It’s a hard choice!

Anyone else want to play? You don’t have to limit yourself to Venice. What painting in any Italian church would you bring home?

February 4, 2008

Venice in winter


A friend emailed this photo of Venice taken in the calm before the storm that is Carnivale. I've never had the urge to be there for Carnivale, having heard too many stories about the wild and crazy crowds and general chaos. But there are some nice photos on Venice Daily Photo, including a very cute dog in costume and a shot of rap star Coolio (?) inaugurating the festivities by flying down (on a wire) from the San Marco campanile.

February 5, 2008

Titian at the Accademia

Just a note for anyone who's lucky enough to be going to Venice in the next few months. There’s a special exhibit at the Accademia, Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting, that runs through April 20, 2008.

It’s a collection of 28 paintings done in the last 26 years of his life (1550-1576). I'd love to see this show but there’s just no way I can go to Venice between now and April. Sigh. If anyone gets to see it, I’d love to hear about it.

In December, I visited Titian’s house in Cannaregio. There’s not much to see but I felt like paying homage. There's a small plaque above the door and it looks like there's a garden behind the wall and maybe his house is behind that. I wonder if someone still lives there today?

Titian's house

February 8, 2008

Green door in Castello


One of my favorite photos from my trip. I love the fact that they’ve got the horseshoe hanging correctly (facing up, so the luck won’t spill out) and those handprints and that strange little face on the left.

In a writing class that I took in college, we sometimes used “story starters” where the professor would give us a photo or painting and we'd write a story about it. This would be perfect for that. Whose door is it? What’s behind that door? Who decorated it? What would happen if you went inside?

February 11, 2008

Cats In Venice

Cat in Castello

Woo hoo! I created my first Slow Travel photo album which you can see here. It took me a long time to figure it all out, but it’s one of those things that will be much quicker and easier the next time I do it.

So this photo album shows all the cats I met on my December trip. There are quite a few considering that I saw none on my first couple of trips in 2002 and 2003. I went to Venice expecting to see lots of cats, mainly because I’d read Jan Morris (The World of Venice) who described Venice as one of the world’s great cat cities and painted a picture of all these loved and coddled colonies of cats being taken care of by Venetian cat ladies. In 2003, my friend Susan and I were so puzzled by the lack of felines and joked that Venice had “gone to the dogs” because we saw hundreds of astonishingly cute little lap dogs all over town but not a single cat.

Well, it turns out that Morris wrote her book in the early 1960’s right around the time that an organized campaign to get the feral cat population under control began. This work was led by an animal welfare organization called Dingo.

I’m reading a book called “Helena Sanders and the Cats of Venice,” a biography of the British woman who founded Dingo in 1964. I’m going to write more about this later when I finish the book but it’s a fascinating story. In a nutshell, the numbers are rather staggering:

"Twenty years, it took, to reduce the cats of Venice from a miserable and sickly multitude numbering 68,000 or so to a stable and healthy population of around 6,000."

The Helena Sanders bio was published in 1989 and I think that the population has decreased even more since then.

I’m happy to say that all the cats I met in 2007 looked healthy and well fed.

February 14, 2008

Hearts in Venice

Since there’s not a church in Venice dedicated to San Valentino, I'm going with a “heart” theme instead.

San Marco

This heart is on the floor of Basilica di San Marco and marks the place where the heart of Doge Francesco Erizzo is buried. His body is in the church of San Martino but his heart is here, as he requested in his will. There’s no name, just the little doge hat on top. He was doge from 1631-1646, a traumatic time in Venetian history that included 16 months of plague that killed 46,000 people, reducing the population by a third. Not many doges are buried in San Marco so I guess he must have been much loved to have his wish honored.

I read about this heart in a book, but it was many visits to San Marco before I finally stumbled across it and for some reason, it really moved me when I saw it for the first time, maybe because that church has my heart too. Anyway, if you want to see it, it’s in the high altar area to the left of the saint’s crypt.

San Felice

Another heart, this one on the floor of the church of San Felice. I assume someone’s heart is buried here too but I don’t know who.

Continue reading "Hearts in Venice" »

February 25, 2008


I thought I’d share a few links to some of my favorite websites – some Venice-related and some not.

A Lover of Venice

A beautiful website filled with lots of off-the-beaten-path photos and info about you-know-where. I love the Madonna della Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy) page which shows her locations all over Venice on a map, and the locations make the shape of her cloak – so very cool. The “Hidden Corners” section has great tours by sestiere –I’m looking forward to seeing the three yet to come.

Venice Daily Photo

Gorgeous photos and a great place to get a Venice fix when you need it.


Six walks around Venice in 900 photos and 22 maps. In both French and English. Lots to look at here!

A Year in the Kitchen

The chef at one of my favorite local restaurants has started a blog. Bill Smith is a excellent chef and writer and also an all-around great guy. Love reading this one. The current entry about putting butter and salt on Girl Scout cookies is funny. High recommendations for his cookbook (Seasoned in the South) too.

The Splendid Table

I love the radio show and also the recipes on the website. I tend to get overwhelmed on sites like Epicurious that have zillions of recipes – Splendid Table has less to plow through, and every one that I’ve tried has been excellent. I love to take the Stuffed Piquillo Peppers to a party – quick, easy, delicious, and people go nuts for them.

Free Rice

A fun vocabulary game. For every word you get right, they donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

National Zoo Panda Cam

This is my “go-to” website when things get too harried at the office. Watching the pandas for a few minutes calms me right down and puts me in a better mood. They don’t do much, just eat, sleep, and play, but they are such beautiful and soulful creatures. I’m trying to write about them without using the “c” word but I can’t stand it…they are cute beyond words!

The photos below are from my October 2006 trip to D.C to see the baby panda, Tai Shan, and his parents Mei Xiang and Tian Tian.

At that time, Tai was 15 months old and weighed 70 pounds. Today he’s two-and-a-half years old and weighs 157 pounds. His father weighs 275, so Tai’s got some more growing to do. He was supposed to be sent to China at age two, but there’s been a panda baby boom and the Chinese are letting him stay here for two more years.



March 28, 2008

The Final Four

Well, my Tar Heels are still alive and have made it to the Final Four! Twelve days ago, there were 64 teams in the tournament and now there are only four (North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, and UCLA).

To win the National Championship, you have to win six games in a row. Four down, two to go for the Heels, but the competition gets tougher with every game. And this year, for the first time in history, the Final Four teams are the four Number One seeds which means that the teams left are the best in the country (no Cinderellas this year).

We play Kansas on Saturday night which means a whole week for the excitement and anticipation to build. I’ll be bouncing off the walls by then. Go Heels!

Just to show that indeed, everything is connected...hoops in Venice! In December, I found this basketball court at the base of the campanile of the church of San Francesco della Vigna.


Continue reading "The Final Four" »

April 10, 2008

A Venetian Bestiary


Jan Morris’ The World of Venice was one of the first books I read about Venice, and it remains one of my all-time favorites. Beautifully written and packed with detail, it captures the spirit of the city in all its magical and glorious strangeness. Plus, Morris did quirky things like go through the modern phone book to see how many of the Doges’ names are still in use; I love trivia like that!

(Answer: There were 120 doges between the years 697 and 1797 with 67 different last names (the job tended to run in families). In 1960 when her book was published, Morris found 39 of the names in the phone book. She did add the caveat that some might be descendents of servants rather than of the doges themselves).

Morris wrote another book, A Venetian Bestiary, in 1982. It’s a charming book about the animals of Venice, both real and imaginary. So there are the actual animals (pigeons, cats and dogs, sea birds, and strange sea creatures for sale in the Rialto Market), and also animals depicted in art like all the many lions, the four horses of San Marco, San Teodoro’s crocodile, Carpaccio’s little dog, the horse on the porch of Peggy Guggenheim’s house, and all the various dragons and monsters scattered all over the city.

VenetianBestiaryThe book was out of print for some time (I found a used copy on Amazon). Then in December, I saw a new edition in several bookshops in Venice. But buyer beware – this new edition doesn’t have any pictures! My copy has lots of color photos and reproductions of paintings, so I recommend looking for a used copy if you’re interested. Here’s what the cover of my copy looks like. It’s a wonderful book.

A note about the photo at the top: I took a picture of every cat I saw in Venice because they are so rare. The city is so filled with cute dogs that I just couldn’t give the dogs equal time, and instead I took only one dog's photo (it’s very representative of the level of canine cuteness you see all over town).

May 5, 2008

Venice in Miniature

Check out these great photos from Trek Capri’s blog! These are Giovanni Moro miniatures that she bought on her November trip to Venice last year…so beautiful! I’ve looked in the window of that shop but haven’t thought seriously about buying anything, mainly because I travel light and didn’t particularly want to deal with something fragile. But I’m going to have a closer look at his churches on my next trip.

Trek Capri (Kathy) has a wonderful blog and also an excellent website with lots of great travel resources and trip reports. Her Venice trip report is coming soon, and I can’t wait to read it (no pressure, Kathy, take your time!).

And on a related note, I stumbled across these photos of a miniature Venice made of Legos! Pretty amazing.

May 12, 2008

Campanile di San Marco

san marco

In my December restoration report, I mentioned that they were putting scaffolding around the San Marco bell tower, and I found a couple of articles that explain what they are doing.

This article states that, “The bell tower was built after the existing 16th century structure collapsed in 1902. But the new tower was found to contain a fissure, discovered in 1939, which is very slowly spreading. The work will involve wrapping a titanium belt around the tower's foundations, between 1 meter and 3.5 meters (3 and 11 feet) below the ground, at a cost of 6 million euros.”

Another article says, “Experts were called in after a survey revealed the 99-meter bell tower is sloping by seven centimeters, a sign that its foundations - thousands of wooden posts driven into unstable ground - are failing to provide adequate support. Surveyors also reckon the foundations of the tower are cracking by a millimeter a year.”

The first article says that the restoration work will take a year and a half while the second says it will take two years. It’ll be interesting to see – maybe we should have a “guess the completion date” contest. I’m betting on three years. Someone on Slow Talk said that the tower is still open to visitors, but I don’t think I’ll be going back up until all scaffolding is gone and that titanium belt is in place!

Below is an old photo of the rubble after the 1902 collapse. There’s an interesting eyewitness report about this collapse reprinted on Venice for Visitors.


The golden statue on the top of this campanile is Archangel Gabriel, and legend has it that when the tower collapsed, the angel miraculously survived the fall and landed gracefully right in front of the main door of the Basilica.

May 15, 2008

More about the bell towers

SS Apostoli campanile

There’s something so magical about that first view of Venice after arrival, when you see the towers and domes in the distance as you make your way across the lagoon. It really looks like some kind of unearthly fairy tale city, and those bell towers are so very beautiful.

Jacopo de Barbari’s famous 1503 map shows 103 bell towers in Venice proper (the six sestieri). Today there are 66 in the historic center plus a few more on the lagoon islands, and the history of these towers is a fascinating but rather hair-raising tale of one disaster after another. The most famous collapse was the campanile di San Marco, but that’s only the most recent one - they’ve been falling for centuries due to earthquakes, subsidence, and old age. A bunch of them fell on the same day during a 1347 earthquake and legend has it that earlier in the day, their bells mysteriously rang on their own, announcing their impending doom perhaps?

A few were blown down by high winds, several collapsed when people tried to straighten them, and others were demolished when they became unsafe. A number of towers were struck by lightning and burned. A recent lightning strike was at San Giorgio Maggiore in 1994 – the wooden angel on top of the campanile caught on fire and its charred remains are now inside the church. Andasamo took a great photo of it. The angel that’s now on top of the tower is new.

Quite a few priests, monks, and innocent bystanders were killed by these falling towers over the centuries. Of course, it wouldn’t be Venice without another miraculous story, and this one concerns the tower in the photo above which is from the church of SS. Apostoli. This tower was built in 1450 and then in 1659 during a violent storm, the belfry blew off. During the reconstruction in 1672, an old priest named Domenico Longo climbed up the tower to check on the work and slipped and fell, but his robes were caught on the arms of the clock on the side of the tower, where he dangled until he was rescued.

Many bell towers were destroyed along with their churches when Napoleon conquered the Republic and “embarked on a policy the savagery of which, even now, sends shivers down the spine. It took the form of a frontal attack on the religious institutions of Venice.” (John Julius Norwich in Paradise of Cities).

So many churches and monasteries were closed at that time and while some of the churches later reopened, a lot of them were demolished during the French and Austrian occupations. Le Chiese di Venezia (by Umberto Franzoi and Dina Di Stefano) lists 39 churches that were demolished in the historic center, and more were destroyed on the islands. Some of them were torn down to make way for public works like the train station and the public gardens in Castello, but others were destroyed because they were old and there simply wasn’t interest in or money for restoring them. It’s hard to get too indignant about all the art that was looted from Venice because the Venetians had been stealing art for centuries, but way too many beautiful and historically important churches were torn down, in my opinion.

Continue reading "More about the bell towers" »

May 27, 2008

St. Luke, patron saint of artists

nikopeiaSt. Luke (San Luca) is the patron saint of artists because supposedly he was a painter himself. Legend has it that he painted a portrait of Mary from life, with her actually sitting there, making it the equivalent of a photograph, I guess. Some versions of the legend say that he did the painting on a wooden table top that Joseph and Jesus had made. The story goes that Mary infused the painting with her blessings and grace, turning it into a miracle-working icon that would carry her power across the centuries.

Now I’m not sure if Luke did one painting of her or many, but there are churches all over the globe that claim to have a St. Luke painting of the Madonna, and these images have been revered for hundreds of years with lots of stories about miracles, healings, and deliverance from wars and disease. In the Middle Ages, people made pilgrimages to visit these paintings which were just as venerated as the relics of any saint.

Well, Venice has not one but three icons that were supposedly painted by St. Luke. One is the Madonna Nikopeia in the Basilica di San Marco (that’s her in the photo above), the second is the Madonna de Pace icon in San Zanipolo, and the third is the Virgin Mesopanditissa icon on the high altar of Santa Maria della Salute.

These icons were legendary before they were brought to Venice (and actually, that’s why the Venetians stole them). The Nikopeia was brought to Venice from Constantinople in 1204 as part of the spoils from the Fourth Crusade; she quickly became the most revered image in the city and she still is today. It's interesting that most of the Masses celebrated in the Basilica are held in her chapel rather than in front of the high altar where San Marco lies.

The San Zanipolo icon came from Constantinople in 1349 about one hundred and fifty years after the Nikopeia. The Salute icon was brought from a church in Crete in the late 1600’s shortly after the church was completed. Crete was a Venetian territory at that time so technically I suppose they didn’t really steal that one, but they were on the verge of losing Crete to the Turks (and Venice had a beautiful new church that needed a Madonna icon).

All three of these icons are very interesting but in truth, they don’t look like they were done by the same artist, and Mary looks quite different in each of them. Plus most historians estimate that they are closer to 1000 years old rather than the 2000 they would be if they were really painted by Luke. But it's a nice legend, and it seems that in the Middle Ages, if you had a miracle-working icon of the Madonna, you should be worried that the Venetians were going to steal it from you. :)

Other places that claim to have a St. Luke Madonna include churches in Rome, Bologna, Germany, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Egypt, and India. There’s also one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The most famous is probably the Black Madonna of Częstochowa in Poland. The only one of the Venetian icons that is a Black Madonna is the one in the Salute (photo below isn't great since I didn't use a flash but you can kinda tell what she looks like).

Icon Salute

May 29, 2008

Going to Mass...

San Marco, side door

A few weeks ago, Girasoli asked me if I go to Mass when I'm in Venice. Thanks to her for this blog topic!

Yes, I do go when I’m there, almost everyday. I’m not Catholic and really, I know very little about Catholicism although I’m learning a lot as I research these churches. I admit that my motives weren’t the highest when I went for the first time – I just wanted to be in the Basilica di San Marco after hours so that I could sit down and take the whole place in without being stuck in that crowded, roped-off “tourist herd” line that runs through that cathedral.

But then I discovered that I really enjoy the service. I like the music and the incense and the part where everyone shakes hands and wishes each other peace. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should be going or not - I always sat on the back row and tried to be invisible, and I never went up for the communion part, thank goodness. Then I found a copy of this “Memo for Tourists” in one of the churches (it's also published on the Patriarch of Venice website) which basically says it’s fine for non-Catholics to attend Mass as long as we act right and are dressed properly, turn off our cell phones, and don’t receive Communion. So I’m more relaxed about going now.

I do have a kinda funny, kinda embarrassing story to tell. One afternoon I went into the Basilica and it seemed that Mass was starting over in the chapel of the Madonna Nikopeia. It wasn’t a time when Mass usually happens, but I thought it might be some special holiday Mass so I went over and joined in. There were lots of people there, all very dressed up. I sat there for probably 10 minutes or so, daydreaming and enjoying the music, and all of a sudden, I looked up at the altar and saw a BRIDE!

Well, I was mortified. It’s supposed to be good luck to see an Italian bride, but I have a feeling that the luck doesn’t happen if you crash the poor girl’s wedding. So I quietly crept out of the chapel and then when I got to the front door of the Basilica, I was locked inside! At that point, I was struggling not to laugh out loud and I know my face was bright red. Fortunately I found a security guard who let me out – he was very nice about it and was laughing at me too.

BSM mosaic detail

Continue reading "Going to Mass..." »

June 2, 2008

Going to Mass, part two (Pala d'Oro)


During my most recent trip, I went to Mass in San Marco on December 8 for The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Basilica was completely full (they even had video screens for people in the “no view” seats, and something about the sight of modern technology in that ancient church really amused me), and the Mass was conducted by the Patriarch of Venice who only does a few Masses a year on high holy days. The Mass lasted for an hour and a half, and I was not in the least bit bored because I was in my favorite church in the world, the music was gorgeous, all the pomp and circumstance seemed holy and beautiful, and it just felt great to be there.

The Patriarch (Angelo Cardinal Scola) has a lot of charisma, and he even gave messages in different languages. His English message was something about “the mystery and beauty of this great cathedral – may it give you hope” which of course it does, because I love that church so much! And then he said, “Have a nice stay in Venice.”

But the best part was the fact that the Pala d’Oro, that amazing golden altar screen, was turned around to face the people (most of the time, it’s flipped around so that they can charge us a Euro or so to go back and look at it). It's only turned around on high holy days and this was the first time I'd seen it like that. Beautiful!


Continue reading "Going to Mass, part two (Pala d'Oro)" »

June 21, 2008

PhotoHunt: Water

This week's theme is water, so here are a couple that I took in Venice this past December.

Reflections in a canal


A water door. You can see the range of the tide levels on this building.

Water door

June 28, 2008

PhotoHunt: Bright

Angel on Palazzo Ducale

This week's theme is "bright." This angel on the corner of the Palazzo Ducale in Venice looks like she is averting her eyes from the sunlight.

Have a nice weekend!

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 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.

September 7, 2008

Vera da pozzo

Corte ZorziA vera da pozzo is a well or well-head, and there are so many of these things all over Venice that it’s easy to stop noticing them after a while. They aren’t true wells, they're cisterns that were used for collecting and filtering rainwater and until the mid-1800’s, they were the only source of fresh water in the city. During times of drought, the Republic would haul water in by barge and fill these up. After Venice was connected to an aqueduct on the mainland, many of these were removed and the remaining ones covered over, but there are still a bunch of them around and many of them are very beautiful.

In “Strolling through Venice,” John Freely writes that there used to be 6,782 of these wells; today, there are hundreds still to be seen in public places. He identifies and dates many of them in the walking tours in his book. Some of them are decorated with carvings and reliefs, and I try to remember to look at the ones close to churches because they usually have some art connected to the church’s name saint.

According to Freely, this one used to be a baptismal font in a church.

former baptismal font

This very worn but sweet relief shows Tobias and the Angel (Archangel Raphael) and is on a well by the church of Angelo Raffaele in Dorsoduro.

Raphael and Tobias

This relief of Archangel Gabriel carrying the annunciation lily is on the vera da pozzo in Campo Sant’ Angelo in sestiere San Marco.

Annunciation (Gabriel with lily)

This relief shows Saint George and the Dragon; it’s on the well next to the church of San Giorgio dei Greci in Castello.

vera da pozzo

A 19th century photo by Carlo Naya showing folks getting water from one of the bronze wells in the courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale.


Update: here's a link to Anne's wonderful post about "The Lady of the Well" that we were discussing in the comments below.

September 25, 2008

Ancient Mysteries: The Miraculous Canals of Venice

Ancient%20mysteries.jpgThis is an episode of an A&E television series, filmed in 2005 and hosted by Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock. I rented it from Netflix.

Fascinating show – I recommend this one to anyone who loves Venice. Some beautiful scenery, of course, but also an excellent explanation of how such a magnificent city was built on what is essentially a big mucky swampy lagoon.

The show emphasizes how very improbable it is that a city was created in such a hostile environment with no fresh water, no building materials, and no place to grow food. The early Venetians fled into the lagoon around 400 AD to escape barbarians invading the mainland, and the seed of Venice’s eventual wealth was salt, the first product that the Venetians traded. At that time, salt was “edible gold” and much in demand not only for cooking but also for its ability to preserve food. And in order to sell their salt, the Venetians had to become expert boatsmen (and boat builders) and it all evolved from there.

Continue reading "Ancient Mysteries: The Miraculous Canals of Venice" »

October 3, 2008

PhotoHunt: Sad


This week's theme is "sad."

Here's a sad but beautiful angel I found on San Michele in Isola, the cemetery island of Venice.

Angel on San Michele in Isola

Are we all going to have the blues after this photo hunt?! Here's a Chinese proverb to keep in mind:

"You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair." :)

Have a good weekend!

October 5, 2008

They're Back! Gondoliers of Venice for Obama, the sequel

"To America with Love..."

Last week, Maria I posted part one of "Gondoliers of Venice for Obama" and now, they continue their campaign and are joined by a chorus! Guaranteed to make you smile. Love the others floating by and cheering for them. If I run into Roberto when I'm in Venice this winter, I'll give him a high five. And maybe Maria and Anne will be able to join "Team Obama" in Venice next week!

October 8, 2008

Scuola dei Calegheri

Across the campo from the church of San Toma is the gothic Scuola dei Calegheri (Guild of the Cobblers or Shoe-makers). There’s another beautiful Madonna della Misericordia relief on the façade of the scuola and below that, a lunette over the door that shows San Marco healing the cobbler Anianus, who'd hurt his hand while making shoes and converted to Christianity after Mark healed him (and later became a saint himself). This Renaissance relief was sculpted by Pietro Lombardo, who may have copied a drawing by master painter Giovanni Bellini.

This is the scuola, with the Frari campanile behind it:

Scuola dei Calegheri

The Madonna della Misericordia on the facade:

Madonna della Misericordia

Continue reading "Scuola dei Calegheri" »

November 10, 2008

Chorus Pass

Venice’s Chorus Pass organization is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with a series of concerts and also a redesigned website.

The Chorus Pass is a ticket that provides admission to 16 of Venice’s churches. Current cost is nine euros and since the ala carte price at the door is three euros, the pass is a bargain if you intend to visit more than three of these churches.

In the latest Donna Leon mystery, The Girl of His Dreams, Commissario Guido Brunetti pops into the church of San Giacomo dall’ Orio and is surprised to learn that the church has an admission fee, but then he’s told that Venetian residents can enter for free. I’ve met a few people who were somewhat indignant about having to pay to visit a church, but it doesn’t bother me at all. There are other churches where admission is free but then you have to spend several euros feeding the light boxes to see the paintings, so I’d just as soon pay at the door. The paintings in the Chorus Pass churches are well-lit plus the money goes towards restoration and maintenance, so it seems reasonable to charge a small fee.

Another great thing about the Chorus Pass is that you will find these churches open 10-5 Monday-Saturday, so if you decide to trek all the way out to San Pietro di Castello, for example, you won’t find a closed church. The 16 churches are spread out across all of the six sestieri of Venice - it’s such a great way to get an overview of the city and you'll see many wonderful things along the way as you wander from church to church.

These photos show both sides of a Chorus Pass tote bag that I bought last December. These graphics are very cool; they are so simple yet each church is clearly recognizable. I'm thinking about taking this thing apart and framing it!

Chorus Pass Churches

Continue reading "Chorus Pass" »

November 11, 2008

List of Donna Leon books (in order)


In yesterday's comments, Sandra said that she had inadvertently bought one of the Donna Leon mysteries twice because it was republished with a different title. The same thing happened to me - I bought what I thought was a new one in Venice and then realized I already had it back home. It took me a while to track all these books down because some were out of print for a while, in the US anyway, but I did manage to find and read them all (though not in order).

I work with a bunch of readers (and mystery readers in particular), and we are always passing books around the office. Everyone loves this series, even the people who've never been to Venice. And if you're a Venice lover, these are essenziale.

So here's the list with duplicate titles in parentheses.

Continue reading "List of Donna Leon books (in order)" »

December 24, 2008

The Joy Singers!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Check it out - I found The Joy Singers on You Tube! This is short but will give you a good idea of how wonderful the concert I saw was. Good vibes all around and guaranteed to make you smile (and want to get up and dance!).

I saw them in the church of Santo Stefano but in this video, they are performing in one of my top three favorite churches, the Basilica di San Donato e Maria (on the island of Murano). This church has the most gorgeous floors and a beautiful Madonna mosaic on the apse...there are glimpses of the church in this video.

Continue reading "The Joy Singers!" »

January 2, 2009

PhotoHunt: Hope


This week's theme is "hope."
Perfect theme to begin a New Year!

peace flag

All over Venice, you see these flags...a lovely way for people to share their hopes for peace. Most of them are in Italian (pace) but I saw one in English too.


I hope that all of you have a very Happy New Year!

You can find more Photo Hunters here.

January 5, 2009

Fog and Sun


Almost everyone takes a photo of this classic Venetian view, with the church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance behind the gondolas parked next to the Piazzetta San Marco. This is the winter version of the scene, taken early one morning when it was sunny and foggy at the same time. The fog soon burned off but it looked pretty cool for a while.

January 13, 2009

Sant' Apollonia (and the Diocesan Museum)

This is such a lovely and magical spot. The 12th century cloister of Sant’ Apollonia is the oldest surviving cloister in Venice and today is part of the Museo Diocesano di Venezia (Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art).

sant apollonia

The cloister was part of a Benedictine monastery adjacent to the now demolished church of SS. Filippo e Giacomo. The monastery was built for monks who originally resided on the lagoon island of Ammiana, which sank after the Christmas Day earthquake of 1223, and so the monks moved to Venice. Sinking islands and monasteries…it makes me think about scuba-diving archeologists and what all they might find in the waters of that lagoon.


Continue reading "Sant' Apollonia (and the Diocesan Museum)" »

January 23, 2009

PhotoHunt: Chipped


This week's theme is "chipped." This theme is kinda challenging! I'm curious to see what everyone does for this one. Here's what I came up with (one in Venice, and one in NC).

A canal in Venice. The rising water has chipped the stucco off that yellow building.


And here in NC, a truck on a used car lot. It's "chips" not "chipped" but hey, like I said, this theme is hard!


Have a good weekend everyone. And Happy Chinese New Year (year of the Ox)!

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

January 29, 2009

John Ruskin (1819-1900)

“Among the many strange things that have befallen Venice, she has had the good fortune to become the object of a passion to a man of splendid genius, who has made her his own, and in doing so has made her the world’s.” – Henry James

Ruskin plaque

This memorial plaque is on the Zattere on the front of Pensione La Calcina, where Ruskin stayed for four months in 1877 on one of his many extended trips to Venice. Here's the translation:

John Ruskin
Lived in this house, 1877

High Priest of Art
In our Stones and in our San Marco
In almost every monument of Italy
He sought at one and the same time
The craftsman’s soul and the soul of the people

Every marble, every bronze, every canvas
Each of these things proclaimed to him
That beauty is religion
If the virtue of man inspire it
And the people’s reverence accept it.

The Council of Venice, In Gratitude
January 26, 1900

Continue reading "John Ruskin (1819-1900)" »

February 3, 2009



I found this relief with pomegranates next to a blue door near the newly rebuilt La Fenice opera house in San Marco.

Pomegranates are in season right now, and I’ve been eating them in yogurt everyday for breakfast. A few years ago when the pom fad began, my local grocery had a big display with a little instruction booklet that showed how to remove the seeds in a bowl of water so you don’t stain everything in the kitchen – it’s a bit of trouble but really kind of fun. And my cats love to drink the pink water after I’ve gotten all the seeds out – I figure the antioxidants are good for them too.

I was wondering why they might be on a building in Venice and found a bunch of info via google about their symbolism in various religions and cultures...pomegranates are connected to ancient goddesses and the myth of Persephone, they're mentioned in both the Koran and the Old Testament, they are a symbol of righteousness in Judaism, and of abundance, fertility and good fortune for the Greeks. Some people think that it was a pomegranate and NOT an apple in the Garden of Eden, and I’ve even got a Tibetan rug that has a pomegranate on it. I love symbols that cross cultures and faiths. It might be the Greek connection that brought them to Venice or maybe it’s just because they are beautiful. I like the blue doors too.


February 6, 2009

PhotoHunt: Bridge(s)


This week's theme is "bridges."

Venice has almost 500 bridges so as you can imagine, I have quite a few photos that would work for this theme. In addition to photos of bridges themselves, I have tons of photos that I took while standing on a bridge. So it was a tough choice but I narrowed it down to these two.

Most of the bridges in Venice are made from brick and stone; this one has an angel on it:


A more unusual wrought-iron bridge. This bridge is pretty small but it cast some cool reflections that day:


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy PhotoHunting!

February 18, 2009

Canaletto in North Carolina

Canaletto in NCMA

This painting by Giovanni Antonio Canal, called Canaletto (1697-1768), is in the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and is called “Capriccio: The Rialto Bridge and the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore.”

The Italian word “capriccio” means whim or fancy. It could also be translated as “wait a minute, what the heck is San Giorgio Maggiore doing next to the Rialto Bridge?!?”

Canaletto was a native Venetian and while he painted many “straight up” scenes of his city, he sometimes moved things around a bit which is disconcerting to those of us who’ve been to Venice but just looks beautiful to those who haven’t. Canaletto’s paintings were much in demand by aristocratic British tourists and as a result, there are only a handful of his paintings in Venice but hundreds of them in the UK (the Queen herself has over 50 in the Royal Collection).

Continue reading "Canaletto in North Carolina" »

February 22, 2009


The districts of Venice are called sestieri (singular: sestiere) and there are six of them. It’s kind of goofy that some guidebooks and websites report that Venice has seven or more districts since the word sestiere means “sixths.” It would be like claiming that the USA has 54 states because you think that Texas and Alaska are too big!

Venice is so small that I think of the sestieri more as neighborhoods than districts. There are three on each side of the Grand Canal, and three of the six were named for churches.

Castello: named for a castle that used to be in this area
San Marco: named for the patron saint of Venice and his church
Cannaregio: named for the bamboo (canna) that used to grow in this area before it was developed
San Polo: named for the 9th century church dedicated to St. Paul
Santa Croce: named for an ancient church that was demolished in the 19th century
Dorsoduro: means “hard bone” – the land in this part of Venice was higher and more solid than others.

Each sestiere is divided into parishes, and each parish has a church. At one point, Venice was divided into 70 parishes (contrade) but after the fall of the Republic, the church organizational plan was revamped and today there are 30 parish churches. Getting to know the locations of churches (and learning to recognize their bell towers) is a great navigational tool – it won’t prevent you from getting lost but it will help you recover more quickly.

The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is part of sestiere San Marco while Guidecca is part of Dorsoduro. The cemetery island of San Michele is part of Cannaregio. Murano was also part of Cannaregio until 1271 when it was granted separate community status (which the other lagoon islands have too).

There's an article by Shannon on the Slow Travel site that describes each sestiere – it’s a great resource for people trying to decide where to stay. I don’t think there’s really any undesirable area in Venice, although I don’t think I’d like to stay too close to the train station nor would I want to stay in the San Marco/Rialto corridor in high season. Too hectic. So far I’ve stayed in four of the six sestieri – I haven’t stayed in Cannaregio or Dorsoduro yet. I don't have a favorite but I really love Santa Croce and campo San Giacomo dall' Orio.

This column is all that’s left of the demolished church of Santa Croce; it’s embedded in a wall close to the Papadopoli Gardens.

Santa Croce

February 25, 2009

More fossils in the floor

Last year, I wrote about how I like to look for fossils in church floors when I'm in Venice. This past December, I found this very unique double fossil in the floor of the church of Santa Maria Formosa! Kinda reminds me of a mother and child.

Santa Maria Formosa

Speaking of church floors, here's a scan of a postcard that shows a few details from the floor of Basilica di San Marco. I've seen aerial photos of the Basilica's floors and they are so amazing, but unfortunately much of that floor is covered with protective mats. I'd love to see more of it.

BSM floors

March 1, 2009

A Photo Quiz for Venice lovers

The creator of the beautiful A Lover of Venice website has just posted a new page: Let's Play (a Venice game).

The game consists of twenty photos to identify and let me say, it's very challenging. But fun!

Right now, I know twelve of them and am still trying to figure out the other eight. I didn't know all of them right off the bat, I had to do some research. Some helpful hints: a few of the answers can be found on other pages of the ALoV website (check out the "Cast in Stone" page, and also "Hidden Corners" and the sestiere pages linked at the bottom). Two of the answers are somewhere on my blog.

Question #15 is driving me crazy. I know that spot, I've been there, and I just can't place where it is!

ALoV will post the answers on March 25, and there may be more questions coming later on this year.

Continue reading "A Photo Quiz for Venice lovers" »

March 6, 2009

PhotoHunt: Space


This week's theme is "space."

It's gonna be fun to see what everyone does for this wide-open theme!

No surprise, but I've gotta go with "Sacred Space" and the amazing mosaics in the Basilica di San Marco, the cathedral of Venice and my favorite church in the world.



You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy PhotoHunting!

March 17, 2009

Restoration and scaffolding

I wrote a report after my 2007 trip about the scaffolding and restoration work sites and and such, so I thought I'd update the on-going restoration of Venice.

The Basilica in December 2007. Check out the number of pigeons.


And in December 2008. A much better view of the most beautiful cathedral in the world. There's still a bit of scaffolding on the left side of the church (and there's a huge work site around the base of the campanile) but overall, this is an improvement. The biggest change in Piazza San Marco is the GREATLY reduced pigeon population since the city banned selling birdfood last year. There are still a few pigeons strutting around but not that many.


Santa Maria della Salute in 2007 with the strange metal beehive scaffolding around the dome.


And in 2008. Still a lot of work going on but the main dome has had most of its braces removed, and now they're working on the back of the church. In addition to the work on the church itself, the whole Punta della Dogana was covered over in December. But I just read that the Punta della Dogana is unveiled now, and the new museum is due to open in June.


Continue reading "Restoration and scaffolding " »

March 25, 2009

Venice Photo Quiz: Answers posted

A Lover of Venice has posted the answers to the wonderful Let's Play: A Photo Quiz for Venice Lovers that I blogged about last month.

If you missed it, it's not too late. The questions are here while the answers are there (no peeking!). I'm slapping my head over a couple of them that I should have known. I can't believe that two people got all of them right, just amazing.

ALoV has another great new page up: A Venetian Meltdown: From the Rialto to Wall Street about the 15th century collapse of the Venice banking system. Some eerie parallels with current events!

In other news, here's a gloomy story from All Things Considered. I heard this on the radio today and then found the story online. They miss American tourists!

Tourists Not Visiting Italy in Time of Economic Crisis

And a few strange stories:

Venice to Convert Invading Seaweed into Electricity

For real! The Venice Port Authority has plans to build a power plant that will use algae/seaweed from the lagoon to supply half the city's energy. Very cool if this happens!

Vampire Skull Found in Venice

There are stories about this crazy discovery all over the web, but National Geographic has the best photo of the skull found recently in an archeological dig on a lagoon island.

Venice to Save Stone Lions

"The Veneto regional government is set to approve a law providing for the upkeep of the endangered lions..."

They have to pass a law for this? :)

Lion of San Marco

April 3, 2009

PhotoHunt: Stripes


This week's theme is "Stripes."

I've got one from Venice and one from North Carolina this week.

First up, boat poles in a Venetian canal:


And an old-timey barber shop pole in NC. That's me reflected in the metal part of the bottom. :)

Barber shop pole

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy PhotoHunting!

April 20, 2009

Maurice Prendergast

Maurice Prendergast (1859-1924) was a Canadian-born American painter whose work spanned the transition from Impressionism to Modernism. I found this press release about an upcoming exhibition, Prendergast in Italy, that sounds quite interesting especially since it will be at the Guggenheim in Venice next fall and winter. I like his watercolors but have never seen any of them in person; if I end up returning to Venice later this year, I’ll definitely go see this show. Most of the paintings included in the exhibition are of Venice but there are also views of Rome, Siena, and Capri.

The exhibition opens on July 18, 2009 at Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA, where it runs until September 20. From the WCMA website:

"Prendergast in Italy traces the footsteps of Maurice Prendergast as he painted his way through Italy in 1898-1899 and through Venice again in 1911. Approximately seventy watercolors, oils, and monotypes by Maurice Prendergast will be on view, along with related letters, prints, photographs, films, guidebooks, and sketchbooks to situate the work within the new visual culture that Americans had embraced by 1900."

Here's the schedule after Williamstown:

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (October 9, 2009-January 3, 2010)
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (February 14-May 9, 2010.)

A few of his Venetian scenes (I don't know if these are in the show or not, they are just some that I like).


Campo Santa Maria Formosa



Continue reading "Maurice Prendergast" »

May 13, 2009

Putting the pigeons to work

There's been a bit of controversy in Venice this year about advertising and the marketing of the city. Here's an article, Venice Mayor Backtracks on Coke Fizz Up that addresses the hubbub about a deal with Coke which would have allowed vending machines to be placed around the city. And every few years it seems, there's a depressing "Venice is Dying" article like this one (Venetians Fear for their Cultural Heritage) which addresses marketing and tourism as well as the declining population.

As I said in my post about the restoration sites (and the ugly ads on the scaffolding of many of those), I can see both sides of this issue. Venice needs the money and while yes, the ads are an eyesore, at least they're temporary.

But really, less-than-tasteful ads in Venice (and deals with Coca Cola) aren't a new thing. Here are a few examples where the pigeons were involved. :)

coke ad Venice


Continue reading "Putting the pigeons to work" »

May 18, 2009

Corte Sant' Andrea

A pretty little corte in the sestiere of San Marco with a vera da pozzo used as a planter. The corte is named for a demolished church, Sant' Andrea della Certosa (or Sant' Andrea of the Lido), that was out on an lagoon island close to the Lido. The Sant' Andrea monks owned a hospice in town where they would stay when they rowed over to Venice for business. The hospice was built in 1272, and this relief (showing St. Andrew and worshippers) was added in the 14th century.



Continue reading "Corte Sant' Andrea" »

May 29, 2009

PhotoHunt: Book(s)


This week's theme is "Book(s).

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has for this theme. I've got one from Venice and one from North Carolina.

First up, Venice - a marble relief of an angel holding a book.


On the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, a girl carrying a huge stack of books.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!

May 31, 2009

San Magno and his eight churches


Sometimes I like legends better than facts especially when it comes to Venice and its churches. I tend to snooze a bit when I read long architectural descriptions but perk right up when a story comes along especially a magical one.

And as I’ve been reading about these churches, over and over again I’ve seen references to San Magno (St. Magnus) along the lines of “this church was founded by San Magno in the 7th century.” The writers seem to assume that Magno needs no introduction but I had no clue who he was and decided to poke around further.

Well, what a guy! There’s not a lot of info about him since he lived in the 600’s but he does seem to be someone who really existed, unlike some of the other “saints with an asterisk” like George and Christopher who are probably myths.

And San Magno was a Venetian, sorta. Venice as we know it didn’t yet exist as an organized city/state (the first doge wasn’t elected until the early 700’s). In Magno’s time, there were people scattered across the lagoon islands – fishermen and salt farmers – the original Venetians who some mainland bureaucrat described in a letter as “sea-birds” living in wooden huts on stilts. No mosaics, marble, or government yet. But Magno was born in the Veneto somewhere and became a priest and later a bishop, which meant that he was the religious head of a very large area that included mainland territories as well as the lagoon colonies.


But most importantly, San Magno was a visionary. He founded eight churches in Venice and the best part is the way he founded them. These are his churches:

Continue reading "San Magno and his eight churches" »

June 15, 2009

Madonna dell' Arsenale

These are the gates to the Arsenale, the famed shipyards which were the source of much of the Venetian Republic's wealth. There used to be a small Renaissance church to the right of these gates and thanks to a painting by Canaletto, we can see what it looked like.


Madonna dell 'Arsenale was built in the 16th century by an unknown architect who modeled it on a Greek temple. Looks like a sweet little place. It was demolished in the early 19th century.

Madonna dell' Arsenale, Canaletto

Continue reading "Madonna dell' Arsenale" »

June 16, 2009

Garden Wall Madonnas

A collection of "garden wall" Madonnas from all over Venice. I love this iconic image and all its many variations. I'm partial to the "squirmy baby wearing a crown" in the first photo and love those metal umbrellas over most of them.

Madonna with umbrella


Madonna and child

Continue reading "Garden Wall Madonnas" »

June 17, 2009

The Arsenale Lions

Maria I asked a question in the comments of my post about Madonna dell' Arsenale ~

"I was just reading Doctored Evidence and Brunetti was commenting on the lions at the Arsenale, wondering whether the men who carved them ever saw a real one. Are the lions ‘funny’ looking? "

The answer is yes!, There are four lions outside the entrance to the Arsenale, and one of them in particular is pretty goofy looking. The entrance is guarded by eight statues of pagan gods with the lions lounging beside them.


This is the goofy one - such a worried expression on his face! I love him. He looks straight out of cartoons. Despite his Disney appearance, he's the oldest of the bunch, a Greek sculpture dating back to the 6th century BC. The Venetians stole him from island of Delos.


This one sits to the left of the cartoon lion.


And this one sits alone is to the left of the entrance. He came from the port of Piraeus in Athens where he might have been part of a fountain,and there's carved graffiti on him: runic inscriptions left by Scandinavian soldiers who were fighting in Greece in the 11th century. Supposedly translators have concluded that the graffiti is an archaic equivalent of "Kilroy Was Here."


Continue reading "The Arsenale Lions" »

July 24, 2009

PhotoHunt: Utensils


This week's theme is "Utensils" and I'm thinking about the Fork.

Venice is often given credit for inventing the fork in the early 11th century. Throughout the Middle Ages, civilized Venetians were dining with forks while the slobs in the rest of Western Europe were still eating with crude spoons or with their hands.

The truth is, the fork might have been brought to Venice by a Greek princess named Maria Argyra, niece of the Byzantine Emperor and daughter-in-law of a Venetian Doge. A grumpy priest blasted this princess for “the luxury of her habits”:

“Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth.”

You might think that it was the food-cutting eunuch slaves who upset this priest, but no….it was the fork!

"God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks - his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating."

Whatever. Perhaps such wild and crazy religious objections explain why the fork was so slow to catch on. It took several centuries for the use of the fork to spread from Venice to the rest of Italy and eventually all over Europe.

Anyway, my photos were taken in Venice last year and show a few memorable things I ate with a fork.

Spaghetti con vongole veraci (clams). These clams were so tiny but so sweet and delicious.


Moeche con polenta. Small crispy soft-shell crabs over polenta. These little crabs are amazingly good.


Pizza with mozzarella, smoked ricotta, and arugula. In Italy, the pizzas are left whole, not sliced like they are in the USA, and Italians eat them one bite at a time using a fork and a serrated knife. I prefer to eat pizza with my hands but when in Venice, I use the utensils.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

August 11, 2009

Palazzo Agnusdio

I was psyched to find this cool 19th century photo (by Carlo Ponti) of the gorgeous Gothic window of Palazzo Agnusdio.


Here's what it looks like today, from below. Ponti must have taken his from the second floor window of the adjacent palazzo.


Continue reading "Palazzo Agnusdio" »

August 29, 2009

A Collection of Angels

This is an unintentional collection. As I wander around Venice looking for shrines, I also take photos of any angels I see but it wasn't until I got home that I realized there was a recurring theme with many of them....the finger pointing at the scroll.

This one is in the sestiere of San Marco, by the bridge behind the church of Santa Maria del Giglio.

Angel (Gabriel)

My favorite, this one is on the side of the church of SS. Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. Check out the two dragons underneath and the lion sticking out his tongue.

Santi Maria e Donato, Murano

In Campo Santa Margherita, perhaps from the deconsecrated church.


Continue reading "A Collection of Angels" »

September 11, 2009

PhotoHunt: Electric


This week's theme is "Electric." I'm looking foward to seeing what folks come up with for this theme.

An old building here in NC, probably built before electricity. You can see that the electric wires are visible outside on the tin ceiling, rather than hidden away out of sight behind the walls.


And here's one in Venice with electric Christmas lights reflected in a flooded calle (street) during acqua alta (high water).

flooded calle

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

September 18, 2009

PhotoHunt: Upside Down


This week's theme is "Upside Down." Fun theme!

Pretty much everyone who goes to Venice with a camera ends up taking reflection-in-a-canal photos; it's just irresistible. Plus, you never know what you'll get since it all depends on the time of day, the position of the sun, etc.

I took these on a cold and cloudy winter day on Torcello, a beautiful island in the Venetian lagoon. I've flipped them upside down. The red brick in the upper right corner is the sidewalk I was standing on when I took the photos.

Torcello canal, upside down

In this next one, you can see the bell tower of Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello's thousand-year-old cathedral, down in the bottom right corner. It's upside down because I flipped the photo! It's also covered with scaffolding for restoration work.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

September 21, 2009

Burano cat colony

When I was strolling around the island of Burano looking for shrines, I found a little corte filled with cats.

These two were not that happy to see me. I barely got this photo before they ran off and disappeared.


The other adults pretty much ignored me and continued with their meditations on life.



This beauty seems to be sticking her tongue out at me.


But then I was approached by this incredibly friendly and talkative orange kitten. He was chattering away, rubbing against my ankles, trying to climb my leg, and just generally demanding attention and petting (which he got). He was like a cross between my two cats back home - LuLu's looks and Maria's chatty personality.

Italian kitten (Burano)

Continue reading "Burano cat colony" »

October 16, 2009

PhotoHunt: Free Week!


This week's theme is "Free Week (Share Any Photo)."

No surprise that I'm going to share a few favorite scenes from Venice.

I love this cathedral (Basilica di San Marco)~


I love the leaning bell towers~


And I love the hidden courtyards~


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.


November 20, 2009

PhotoHunt: Birds


This week's theme is "Birds."

My blog has been crashed all week and I thought I'd have to miss this week's PhotoHunt. I was bummed too because I love birds. But low and behold, it came back to life a few minutes ago (cross your fingers that it stays fixed).

From Venice, a pair of kissing Byzantine birds~

Byzantine birds

The North Carolina state bird is the Cardinal, a beautiful red bird who's a year-round resident of our state~


Another one of my favorite birds is the owl. Saw this one in a Paperhand Puppet Intervention parade~

Paperhand Puppet Intervention

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend!


December 18, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I've never been one of those people frantically shopping and wrapping on Christmas Eve but boy, this has been such a busy December and I have so much to do to get ready. And now, we have snow in the forecast for this weekend. And it might be a lot of snow!

So anyway, I wanted to wish my blog friends Happy Holidays since I probably won't have time to blog for the next couple of weeks. Tidings of comfort and joy to all of you!


December 25, 2009

PhotoHunt: Twelve


This week's theme is "Twelve."

The twelve signs of the Zodiac on the clock face in Piazza San Marco in Venice~

twelve signs of the zodiac

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting. Hope everyone is having a nice holiday, and best new year (and decade) wishes to all!


February 27, 2010

Drinking Water Fountains in Venice

Found an interesting post on another blog with a map and a complete list of the locations of Venice's 70 or so working fountains with drinking water. Might be helpful info especially if you are traveling to Venice when it's hot. It's also interesting to look at the map - only four of them in the sestiere of San Marco? Seems strange.


People often ask me a couple of questions about Venice - do the canals stink and can you drink the water? The answers are no and yes (the water tastes great, I think).

Here's a contrast between getting water in Venice in the past (the vera da pozzo) and today (the fountain)~


March 3, 2010

Madonna of Calle del Forno


There are countless images of the Madonna all over Venice, both inside churches and museums and also out on the streets, inside shrines, and on buildings. So many beautiful ones but this rustic relief of the Madonna dell’Umilta is one of my favorites. She’s tucked away on a quiet residential street in Castello, set into the wall above a door (I didn’t stumble across this one by accident; I knew to go looking for her).

This 15th century relief is unique because it’s carved from wood rather than stone. According to Alberto Rizzi (Scultura Esterna a Venezia), this Madonna was most likely inside a shrine, but today the tabernacle is gone and only the icon remains.

She’s showing signs of age (at one time, the wood was painted but you can barely see the traces) but still, her smile is peaceful and there’s an air of serenity and joy around her. And what a fat and happy baby! He looks more like Buddha than Christ to me.

Thanks to A Lover of Venice for sharing the Rizzi info with me. And if you haven’t checked out ALoV’s website lately, please do. There are a number of new pages including the best collection of Venice links on the web, and also a “Photo of the Week” page. Walks though Santa Croce and San Polo have been added and also some amazing photos taken from a ship leaving Venice for Istanbul.


March 4, 2010

Steals sadness and washes you clean...

San Giorgio Maggiore

"Face masked, heart bare, she is a thief, this Venice. All limpid and luminous, she contains you in honeyed arms and dissolves longing. She steals sadness and washes you clean. A Byzantine in a Gothic dress, a golden Renaissance princess perfumed with cloves and sprung from a swamp, she is the untimid testimony to the greatest will and conceit of our kind. Once you hear her secrets - unselfconsciously told, echoing, scuttling across wet stones - you are richer, poorer, more vulnerable, and, somehow, unassailable. She provokes and invites; she is open when she is not sealed, mad with contrast and contradiction, rousing all but the most pinched of souls."

- Marlena de Blasi (from her cookbook, Regional Foods of Northern Italy)

March 8, 2010

Madonna con Bambino

On a building somewhere in Dorsoduro~


Above the entrance to Santa Maria dei Miracoli, this one has a squirming baby Jesus~


In Castello, not far from the one I posted a few days ago on Calle del Forno~


March 10, 2010

Other Venices


The recent Venice recreation in Las Vegas is not an original nor modern idea. The city was rebuilt temporarily in London in the late 19th century by brothers Imre and Bolossy Kiralfy, “professional organizers of late Victorian spectacles” (Venice: The Tourist Maze).

These ambitious brothers built “Venice” on five acres inside the Olympia Exhibition Hall, and the "brilliant spectacular production" included hundreds of gondolas and singing gondoliers. The show ran for over a year and attracted as many as 30,000 paying visitors a day. I found these advertising posters in the Library of Congress archives.

And speaking of other Venices, there are some amazing photos of Legoland Venice on Flickr.



March 11, 2010


It's a happy island. Even on a very cold and grey winter's day, those colors popped up in the canals.



March 23, 2010

Patron Saint of Tailors


A relief dated 1511 on the facade of what used to be a hospice for poor tailors in Cannaregio. To the right of the Blessed Virgin and Child is Santa Barbara, holding the tower that her evil pagan father locked her in.

To the left, holding a pair of scissors and a moneybag, is an obscure Italian saint called Sant' Omobono (great name!). Also known as Saint Homobonus, he was a merchant from Lombardy who was canonized in 1199, two years after his death. I'd never heard of him but learned from Wikipedia that there's been a recent resurgence of interest in him since he was a wealthy holy man and in addition to being the patron saint of tailors, he's the guardian of all business people, and they can buy kitschy plastic statues of him to bless their efforts. Check it out:

Continue reading "Patron Saint of Tailors" »

March 25, 2010

Faces of Venice

On yesterday's post, blog friend LB left a comment saying, "I love the many faces of Venice!" which inspired me to scroll through my photos and find a few more. These sculptures of faces are all over the city - some are bizarre, some are beautiful, and all are rather mysterious and probably have great stories that I'd love to know.

Speaking of LB (The Lone Beader), she is in the midst of making a beaded painting of the Basilica di San Marco and you can follow her progress on her blog. It's incredible!





He/she is sticking his/her tongue out~


Continue reading "Faces of Venice" »

March 26, 2010

PhotoHunt: Fresh


This week's theme is "Fresh."

A couple of photos from Venice. First up, the market close to the church of San Leonardo~


Fresh flowers on a street shrine~


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


March 29, 2010

Venice in 1911


A cool old photo showing the rebuilding of the campanile of San Marco which had collapsed in 1902. That wooden scaffolding looks very interesting. I checked the Venezia webcam today and it looks like they are still doing foundation work on the tower; it also looks like part of the Basilica is covered over. And so it goes.

April 13, 2010

Venise by Raoul Dufy


French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) painted this scene of Venice in 1938. Two churches in this painting - San Giorgio Maggiore and its campanile on the left, and Santa Maria della Salute on the right. It's a happy painting.

Below is a detail of La Salute and the Punta della Dogana, once the Customs house and now a modern art museum. The building is crowned by a statue of Fortune balancing on a golden ball.


April 16, 2010

PhotoHunt: Covered


This week's theme is "Covered."

I've got this theme covered with a few shots from Venice, Italy. Venice is a city that's covered with art, not just in museums and churches but in outdoor public areas too.

First is a covered street (the Ruga degli Orèfici) in the Rialto Market area. The arcade above is covered with frescoes. During the day, all the shops along this street are open and there are tons of people. I took this photo late at night when it was very quiet and deserted.


There are sacred images all over Venice, embedded in the walls of buildings. Here are a couple of statues that are covered with little umbrella-type things to protect them. You can see the Roman numerals MDCXXXI on the building (year 1631).



You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


April 28, 2010

The new Donna Leon book

I know I'm not the only one who has been counting down the days until the new Donna Leon book was published. A Question of Belief is the 19th in the Commissario Guido Brunetti series set in Venice; I started reading it last night and can't wait to get home from work today so I can get back to it. There is nothing better than having a new book that you really want to read!

This year, another book was released on the same day as the latest novel, a cookbook written by Donna Leon's best friend and native Venetian, Roberta Pianaro.


It's a beautiful book with recipes that I'll actually make (not too complicated, in other words). Throughout the cookbook, there are excerpts from the mystery novels - passages that focus on Brunetti's love for food and family. Many of the recipes from the novels, like Paola's famous apple cake, are featured in the book.

Each section begins with a "culinary story" by Donna Leon. My favorite so far is the story of a day she spent picking plums and tomatoes on Sant' Erasmo, Venice's garden island.

Continue reading "The new Donna Leon book" »

May 5, 2010

Lost but Found (Sior Antonio Rioba)


The big news from Venice this week is the misfortune that fell upon Sior Antonio Rioba. The head of this iconic Venetian statue was removed and stolen but then recovered. The blog Venice from Beyond the Bridge has a photo of scuba divers searching for the head in the canal in front of the corner where the statue resides, but it was found undamaged in a nearby calle. I trust that head and body will be reunited soon.

Continue reading "Lost but Found (Sior Antonio Rioba)" »

May 7, 2010

PhotoHunt: Mother


This week's theme is "Mother."

A few images of the Holy Mother taken in Venice, Italy.

A mosaic on the facade of Basilica di San Marco~


Street shrine on a pink building~

shrine in Venice

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend. Happy Mother's Day weekend to all.


May 14, 2010

PhotoHunt: Half


This week's theme is "Half."

This is the top half of the bell tower (campanile) of the church of San Pietro di Castello in Venice. A beautiful Renaissance tower that leans a bit, though you can't really tell in this photo.

San Pietro di Castello

This is my 99th PhotoHunt post! I've missed a few weeks here and there, but not that many. I have to say that I really enjoy the Hunt each week. It's fun looking through my archives trying to find something for the week's theme, and it's especially fun seeing what everyone else posts. Thanks so much to TN Chick for hosting and to all my fellow Photo Hunters!

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


May 28, 2010

PhotoHunt: Memorial


This week's theme is "Memorial."

One from Venice and one from North Carolina this week.

This memorial relief says "Ai Caduti di Tutte le Guerre" which translates to "For the Victims of All Wars." There are outdoor sculptures and reliefs all over Venice, but this one is unusual in that it's modern (dated 1964).

memorial in venice

And here in NC - there's something very poignant about these little roadside memorials. My heart goes out to the families who create these shrines. It also reminds me to drive safely.


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend. Happy Memorial Day to those who celebrate it (three-day weekend, woo hoo!).


June 4, 2010

PhotoHunt: Sparkle(s)


This week's theme is "Sparkles"

Fun theme! All of these pics were taken in Venice. The first three show Venice's sparkling blue Christmas lights, and the last one is a shop window (you can see one of the blue lights reflected in the glass).

lights in Venice

Xmas lights

Xmas light

shop window

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.


June 16, 2010

Bell Tower Trivia

campanile San MarcoSome various and sundry details about the bell towers of Venice.

The campanile di San Marco is the tallest of them all, of course, at 315 feet (97 meters). Second place is a tie between the Frari and San Francesco della Vigna ; both of these towers rise to 224 feet (69 meters). The Venetian nickname for the San Marco tower is “el paron de casa” which means “master (or lord) of the house.”

Santa Maria della Salute has two towers (photo below), but only one of them has bells in it. You can listen to these beautiful bells on Trek Capri’s blog!


Most every church has some bells even if they no longer have a tower. Many churches have what’s called a “Roman-style” bell tower – not a free-standing campanile but visible bells in a little tower usually on the roof of the church. The bells in the photo below are from the Rialto church of San Giacometto, which used to have a free-standing tower that was destroyed in a 1514 fire.

San Giacometto

Continue reading "Bell Tower Trivia" »

June 29, 2010

Venetian Art in NC

The North Carolina Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of Italian art, with a number of works that take me to Venice every time I go to Raleigh to visit the museum. A while back, I wrote about the Canaletto Capriccio painting in the collection; here are a few more.

This lovely Madonna and Child in a Landscape is by Cima da Conegliano, painted around 1499 while the artist was living in Venice. This painting was featured on a US Christmas stamp in 1993.


Veronese's The Baptism of Christ, painted in 1550-60~


The Grand Canal at the Palazzo Foscari, painted in 1740 by Michele Marieschi~

Grand Canal by Marieschi

This over-the-top painting makes me laugh every time I see it. It's The Triumph of Venice, painted in 1737 by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni. A female figure representing Venice is driving the chariot pulled by two winged lions. Next to her is Renaissance doge Leonardo Loredan surrounded by a huge crowd of Roman Gods. You can glimpse the Palazzo Ducale in the background.


Continue reading "Venetian Art in NC" »

July 13, 2010

50th Anniversaries


There are thousands of books about Venice, more than anyone could read in a lifetime, but without a doubt The World of Venice is my favorite of the ones that I've read. It's the kind of book you can pick up, turn to any page, start reading, and be transported. It's so beautifully written and completely captures the crazy magic of Venice.

This year marks 50 years since it was first published, and author Jan Morris returned to Venice to celebrate the anniversary. Her rather bittersweet reflections are published here.

Another book celebrating its 50th Anniversary is To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel I read many times when I was in school. I read it again last weekend to celebrate the anniversary and also to see if I liked it as much as I did many years ago. It's always interestesting to re-read a book you loved - some of them don't hold up so well, but this one did. I enjoyed it just as much if not more. It's a story with so much heart. And don't we all wish we'd had a father like Atticus?!


August 6, 2010

PhotoHunt: Colorful


This week's theme is "Colorful."

Another fun theme but challenging because there are just so many choices!

A shop window in Venice (I looked but didn't buy)~

glass in Venice

Poppies in glass jars at the farmer's market here in NC~


Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


August 10, 2010

Adventures with Ruth (in Venice)

Last weekend, I watched the Venice episode of Gourmet’s Adventures with Ruth, a series showing on my local PBS channel. It was a wonderful show, mainly about food but with some lovely scenes of Venice interspersed with the cooking class that Ruth Reichl and actress Dianne Wiest took with Venetian contessa Enrica Rocca.

The show opens with the bells of Venice, always a magical sound. There’s some nice footage of the Rialto market, and another scene where they go to eat chichetti and drink a Spritz. They also visit the incredible San Polo chocolate shop, VizioVirtù. The dishes they made included shrimp risotto and tiramisu. I was inspired to make the peperonata in saor (pan-fried bell peppers). Mine came out a bit soupier than the photo on the Gourmet website, but the flavor was fantastic.

Peperonata in saor

Continue reading "Adventures with Ruth (in Venice)" »

September 16, 2010

St. George and the Dragon

There are images of San Giorgio and the dragon all over Venice; here are a couple you can find outdoors on the streets. As far as I know, this is the only shrine honoring this hero saint.

San Giorgio and the Dragon

One of the many things I like about St. George is the fact that he not only has a couple of Catholic churches in Venice dedicated to him but also an Anglican church and a Greek Orthodox cathedral.

The dragon in the relief below has a double spiral tail like this other one here.

St George and the dragon

October 13, 2010



The Spritz, a Venetian Staple, is Welcomed Abroad

Here's an article from last week's New York Times about the classic Venetian drink, the Spritz, which seems to be catching on around the world. I'd never had one (or even heard of them) until I went to Venice.

The amazing thing about a spritz is that it's a drink for all's refreshing in hot weather and warms you up in the winter. The article also includes a recipe and this funny quote:

“There’s a saying in Venice,” Mr. Lo Duca said, “that bars and churches never go out of business here.” :)

Continue reading "Spritz!" »

October 22, 2010

PhotoHunt: Orange


This week's theme is "Orange."

This is the third time I've done the orange theme but that's okay, as I seem to have taken lots of photos of orange things. These are both from Venice.

Palazzo on the Grand Canal~

Grand Canal

And a canal on the island of Burano~


Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


November 5, 2010

PhotoHunt: Alive


This week's theme is "Alive."

A foggy morning in Venice. Some places and sights and even poems can make you glad to be alive.

Sun and fog in Venice

I Believe in All

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


November 10, 2010

I Gatti Piu Belli Del Mondo


The most beautiful cats in the world? I laughed when I saw this poster on the streets of Venice and was bummed that I had to go home and was unable to attend this event, whatever it was. A cat show or a sale, perhaps? The cats on the poster are hilarious.

Everyone agrees that cute little dogs have taken over Venice but the felines aren't completely gone. While it's not that common anymore to see "real" cats on the streets, I did see a bunch of them in shop windows...

venezia cat



These portraits are classic. Love the outfits and the views of Venice through the windows.



December 17, 2010

PhotoHunt: Male


This week's theme is "Male."

A few from the streets of Venice.

Not sure who this is but he's definitely male. Seems to be walking some kind of sea monster on a leash~


Another unknown male~


Mosaic saint. The beard lets us know he's male~


You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


January 21, 2011

PhotoHunt: Hands


This week's theme is "Hands."

A few carved-in-stone hands seen on the streets of Venice. I was surprised how many of these I had.

We did this theme a couple of years ago; my first take on this theme was more colorful and less stony than this one. :)

Happy Friday and have a great weekend.





You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


February 4, 2011

PhotoHunt: Fashion


This week's theme is "Fashion."

Crazy shoes in a shop window in Venice. Fashion or art? ~


And this one was taken here in North Carolina. Fashion statement~


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


February 7, 2011

Fioravante Seibezzi

Fioravante house

When I was walking through Santa Croce, I stumbled across this house. The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful arch fragment and then the degraded or chiseled-away relief inside it. But when I stopped to take a photo, I noticed the sign above the arch stating that this was the home of Venetian artist Fioravante Seibezzi (1906-1974). I wasn’t familiar with him so when I got home, I checked him out and found some of his paintings. He’s an interesting guy…a self-taught artist whose first career was a bricklayer. He debuted at the Venice Biennale in 1938 and exhibited there many times. He also won a competition to design the stained glass windows for the Palazzo del Cinema on the Lido (home of the Venice Film Festival).

Here’s a rough translation of the sign on his house – a sweet tribute:

Long lived in this house
ingenious and delicate Venetian painter
that the magic transparencies of his paintings enclosed
the wide blue expanse
and the iridescent lagoon water
that his boyish heart
forever dreaming

I love his paintings.



This is my favorite. The title is Lagoon Landscape or something like that, but it's got to be Torcello.


Continue reading "Fioravante Seibezzi" »

February 25, 2011

PhotoHunt: Mostly Black


This week's theme is "Mostly Black."

Interesting theme!

Here's one from my recent trip to Venice...the Grand Canal at night.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


February 28, 2011

The original patron saint

San Teodoro (St. Theodore) was the original patron saint of Venice and even though he was replaced by San Marco (a much more prestigious saint), there are still images of him around Venice both outside on the streets and in paintings inside churches. The most famous is the sculpture that shows him standing on a crocodile/dragon on top of the huge column in the Molo. That's him on the right.

acqua alta

San Teodoro was a dragon-fighting saint. There are so many images of San Giorgio fighting the dragon all over Venice and I wonder, how do you tell the difference between George and Theodore? And don’t forget San Donato, another dragon fighter, as well as Archangel Michael who can be seen fighting a dragon on a mosaic inside San Marco. I wonder if some of the images identified as San Giorgio might be Teodoro instead.

Here are a couple that ARE supposed to be San Teodoro. The first is on the side of the Scuola di San Teodoro, the second is on the façade of the church of San Toma.

San Teodoro and the dragon

San Teodoro and the dragon

Continue reading "The original patron saint" »

March 15, 2011

Mulino Stucky

Mulino Stucky

This is the rear view of the humongous Mulino Stucky, a former flour mill on Giudecca that’s now a Hilton hotel. You’ve seen this place (you can’t miss it) if you’ve ever walked along the Zattere and admired the view of Giudecca across the canal. It was built in 1895 by a German architect hired by the Swiss businessman who owned the factory. Most people found it an eyesore when it was built and some probably still do, though others think that it’s not so bad as far as 19th century industrial architecture goes. The flour mill was in operation until 1955 and at its peak, employed 1500 people and is credited with bringing electricity to Venice.

The ancient church and convent of Ss. Biagio e Cataldo were destroyed to build this factory. This religious complex began as a refuge for pilgrims on the way to the Holy Land and later became a convent for Benedictine nuns, founded by Blessed Giuliana di Collalto (1186-1262). She was revered as a saint in Venice and credited with working miracles both before and after her death. For centuries, migraine and headache sufferers came to her church to seek healing from her.

Her painted sarcophagus is one of the oldest examples of Venetian painting still in existence; it’s now in the Correr Museum and you can see a photo of it here (scroll down to "Venetian school").

When Ss. Biagio e Cataldo was demolished, the relics of Blessed Giuliana and some of the art were taken to the nearby church of Sant’ Eufemia; its side portico was built with materials from the demolished church.

Mulino Stucky casts a huge reflection - looks like the paint has run off the building and into the canal.

Mulino Stucky

March 17, 2011

Annunciation (Ponte di Rialto)

Ponte di Rialto

This is for Sandra (her blog is A Journey of a 1000 Miles), who "collects" Annunciations and will be able to add this one to her collection when she returns to Venice this summer!

So when you are looking at the side of the bridge shown in the photo above, Archangel Gabriel is on the San Polo side and the Madonna is on the San Marco side. I had a photo of the angel but not the Madonna (I found her on Wikipedia).

This isn't the only Annunciation scene on this bridge; I'll post the other one tomorrow.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!



March 25, 2011

PhotoHunt: Cage(d)


This week's theme is "Cage(d)."

Birds for sale in a shop window in Venice. Seeing animals in cages makes me sad. These little guys look very crowded in there. I hope they ended up in better living quarters later on.

birds for sale

When looking through the archives trying to find something for this theme, I noticed that some of my Venetian street shrines look like cages. Free the saints!

The statue inside this shrine is Santa Teresa di Lisieux. She's sometimes known as "The Little Flower" or as the "Saint of the Little Ways," and you've probably received an email about her (it's been floating around the web for years).

A couple of other photos of this shrine are here. It has a beautiful purple marble frame around it.

Dorsoduro 1523

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. Happy Spring!


April 15, 2011

PhotoHunt: Road


This week's theme is "Road."

The last time we did this theme, I showed you a charming little NC roadside attraction, the folk art village of Shangri-La.

This time I'm going to Venice. One of the many things I love about that city is the fact that there aren't any cars or roads (as we usually think of them); instead, there are canals (roads for boats).




You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.


May 13, 2011

PhotoHunt: Missing/Missed


This week's theme is "Missing or Missed."

A beautiful 16th century relief in Venice that shows the Madonna and Child with saints Chrisopher and Rocco. Sadly, San Rocco is missing his head. You can click on the photo to see it larger, on Flickr.

This relief is over the entrance to a convent founded in 1427. In 1649, the nuns built a small church called Santa Maria del Rosario. I missed seeing that church since it was demolished in 1810.

And finally, I have a feeling that some of my fellow photohunters will miss this week's hunt since Blogger has had a meltdown. I hope it's fixed soon!


Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend.

You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.

May 19, 2011

Fondaco dei Tedeschi


Up until recently, this palazzo housed Venice's post office. When I was there in November, the post office had moved and the place was closed, but I heard that it had been purchased by Benetton.

A recent NY Times article called "Venice Reclaimed" reveals the plans:

"The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a giant 13th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge, caught the eye of the Benetton Group, whose owners have a long history in the Veneto. The company has commissioned Rem Koolhaas’s OMA to create a department store and cultural hub with boutiques, a rooftop terrace overlooking the Grand Canal, and rotating film, architecture and design exhibitions, along with musical performances."

Hmmm. The rooftop terrace might be cool. Every time I pass this palazzo, I think about the fact that it used to be completely covered with frescoes by Giorgione and Titian. They were mostly destroyed by the elements, but there are some fragments in the Galleria Franchetti (the museum in Ca' d'Oro).


July 22, 2011

PhotoHunt: Patch

This week's theme is "Patch."

An unusual door in Venice. I can't figure out how it opens. I like the patchwork effect and the colors.

door in Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a nice weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


August 11, 2011


As I said when I first started this blog, I "collect" church visits and photos of street shrines in Venice. Those are still my main focus (along with cat sightings) but along the way, I've managed to put together a few other collections (and in most cases, I didn't realize I had a collection until I got home and started looking at my photos). There's the "angel with the pointing finger" collection, faces of Venice, and various/sundry others that I haven't posted yet.

A few months ago, I got a blog comment from Lawrence who is putting together his own collection of public art in Venice that shows St. George and the Dragon. While I haven't purposely gone out looking for all the St. George images (and there are over 40 of them), I have stumbled across a few so I compiled a photo set of them. Actually, my collection is Dragons. Most of them are with St. George, but there are a few other variations (dragons alone or with different saints).

I'm posting a few of them here, and the rest are in a set on Flickr. It took me a while to find them all in my archives, and there are still many more dragons and saints in Venice that I haven't seen yet. I'm looking forward to seeing Lawrence's collection after he returns from Venice with them!

Santa Croce 1590

Dorsoduro 1360

This one, from the side of San Marco, is unique in that the dragon seems to be winning. No idea who the man is, but it's definitely not St. George.

San Marco Dragon

My favorite dragon, with no saints in sight~

Corte Rosario (Castello)

I did find one more angel to add to that collection when I was in Venice last year. This one is on Giudecca.


There are several groups on Flickr where people can pool their collections with others: Windows of Venice is one, there's also a Venice Graffiti group.

There's even a group dedicated to one particular shrine in Venice! I laughed when I stumbled across this group and of course, had to add my photos of the shrine to the pool.

August 19, 2011

PhotoHunt: Drink

This week's theme is "Drink."

A typical day of drinking in Venice~

Before dinner, enjoy a Spritz (recipe here).

There are several different versions, but the one in the photo contains prosecco wine, fizzy water, and a splash of Campari with lemon rind and a big green olive.


Vino with dinner~


After dinner, and instead of dessert, try a Sgroppino, a Venetian cocktail made of lemon gelato or sorbet, vodka, and prosecco. Tart, sweet, delicious.


Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


August 22, 2011


Here's an odd little collection of well-heads (vere da pozzo) with walls built through them, splitting them in half. Not sure why this happened since I think they are movable; maybe they were too heavy or it was too inconvenient to move them out of the way? And is the other half visible on the other side of the wall?

This first one, in Dorsoduro, is made of pink marble from Verona. I found this one when doing part of a walking tour from J.G. Links' "Venice for Pleasure." Mr. Links recommends a "curious little digression" off the beaten path to see a house not far from Campo Santa Margherita:

"Someone has built his garden wall through a well-head. The house belonging to the garden, which is numbered 3368, of the oldest in the city, old even for Venice."


This one is in a courtyard in Castello~


Here's another one in a gated corte in Santa Croce~


And this is my favorite, inside a charming corte in Dorsoduro. This one just looks so droopy!

Venice corte


August 26, 2011

PhotoHunt: Symbolic

This week's theme is "Symbolic."

What a crazy week. First an East Coast earthquake (my first experience with the earth moving and it was freaky!). Now Hurricane Irene on the way. Those of us who live in North Carolina have lots of experience with hurricanes, but that doesn't make it any less scary. I've got all my supplies and am ready to ride it out. Be safe if you're in her path!

On to this PhotoHunt...

The lion is the symbol of St. Mark (San Marco), and so ever since San Marco became the patron saint of the Venetian Republic over a thousand years ago, the lion has also been the symbol of Venice.

There are hundreds of lion images all over Venice. Many of them are relatively modern because after the Venetian Republic fell to Napoleon, the new regime ordered the destruction of the Venetian lions and sent stone-masons out to chisel them away.

This one is on a flag pole outside the church of the Redentore; it was erected in 1928.


Not sure what the story is with this one, but it's a cool looking lion.


A few ancient lions did manage to escape the destruction, like these two which date to the 13th century and can be found on the palazzo Marcello dai Leoni. These lions might have come from an older incarnation of the nearby church of San Toma.



Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


September 16, 2011

PhotoHunt: Wooden

This week's theme is "Wooden."

Venice is mainly a city of stone, marble and brick and such. But there are a few wooden things around town.

Many of the windows have wooden shutters, often green. I like the contrast between the peeling paint on the wood, and the peeling stucco letting the bricks peek through.


"Botti" are wooden barrels, and there are three of them painted on the sign for this restaurant. The sign itself is made of the top of a wooden barrel.

ostaria ae botti

And here's one of the wooden barrels outside the entrance to one of my favorite places to eat. The wooden basket sitting on top of the barrel holds a big glass keg for wine.

da Alberto

Many of the street shrines are made of stone, but there are a few wooden ones like this nice carved one~

San Marco

Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


September 23, 2011

PhotoHunt: Yellow

This week's theme is "Yellow."

Happy first day of Autumn! It's been a long hot summer and I'm ready for some cooler temps.

Yellow leaves in the trees and on the ground, in the Sant' Elena neighborhood of Venice~

Sant' Elena

And a farewell to summer flower~


Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


September 28, 2011


Last week, fellow Venice-loving bloggers Yvonne and AnnaLivia both posted photos of windows in Venice, so I thought I'd add a few of mine to the collection.

Happy Wednesday!




cat in window

Continue reading "Windows" »

October 7, 2011

PhotoHunt: Waiting

This week's theme is "Waiting."

These were taken in Venice on a vaporetto landing, a platform on the water where you catch the boat. Public transportation at its finest.


While I was waiting for the vaporetto, I watched these gulls dive bomb some bread.

venetian gulls
Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


November 18, 2011

PhotoHunt: Wet

This week's theme is "Wet/Rain."

A fondamenta is the walkway next to a canal in Venice; this one is getting wet because the water is rising and spilling out of the canal. The light was right for some crazy reflections.

canal and reflections

When acqua alta (high water) occurs, you can walk on these temporary high-rise sidewalks (passerelle) to keep your feet from getting wet~

walk this way

Thanks for visiting and have a happy weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


November 28, 2011

For Yvonne's Collection

Yvonne of Hello World is blogging live from Venice for the next several months. Before she went, she posted some photos of her collection of "pissotte" and now that she's there, she's posting "pissotta of the day" photos. In case you don't know, a pissotta is a triangular block designed to discourage public urination; you can find them in corners all over Venice. It's a hilarious thing to collect, and I'm amazed at how many she has found so far (and the variety!).

So in all the thousands of photos I've taken in Venice, I've only got one photo of a pissotta. This one is nestled next to a church, and has a cross and the symbol of Calvary carved on it. Yvonne, I'll be happy to tell you where to find this one if you don't already have it. :)


December 2, 2011

PhotoHunt: Ripped

This week's theme is "Ripped."

This theme had me stumped at first - I had to do a lot of browsing to find these!

First up is this odd piece of street art (or graffiti) in Venice. An enormous strawberry with the note "Cibo per la Mente" which translates to "Food for Thought." Hmm.

But over on the right side, you can see where there was a black-and-white poster that is partially ripped off, leaving those weird legs behind.

Cibo per la Mente

And this one, taken recently, shows my garage. The squirrels ripped all this stuff off the bottom of the door so they could get inside and eat the bird seed. Rascals!


This is from my trip to New Orleans. Commander's Palace restaurant offers 25-cent cocktails during lunch. They limit you to three so you won't get ripped. :) This is a cosmo and it was delicious.

25-cent martinis at lunch

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. You can find more Photo Hunters and join the hunt here.


December 9, 2011

PhotoHunt: Christmas Decorations

Thank you to TNChick for hosting PhotoHunt for all these years, and thanks to Gattina of Keyhole Pictures for keeping it going now that TNChick has retired. Here's a list of upcoming themes.

This week's theme is Christmas (or other) Decorations, and I've got a couple that I took in Venice. I've never actually been in Venice on Christmas Day, but I have traveled there several times in December.

Speaking of, A Lover of Venice has a new page on his website called "Christmas in Venice" with some wonderful photos of the holiday lights and some amazing presepi (nativity scenes).

Here's a miniature snow village that I saw in a hotel window; it was animated with sleighs going around and people skiing. Very cool.

snow village

I know I've posted this little blue tree before, but I love it so much. It reminds me of Charlie Brown's tree. You can also see Santa hanging on the wall behind the laundry.

blue christmas

Thanks for visiting, have a good weekend, and happy photohunting!

December 23, 2011

PhotoHunt: Lights

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Lights."

A few scenes from Venice...

A glass and light baptismal font in the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato on the island of Murano. This church, built in 1140, is one of the oldest in the lagoon, and the font is modern. I like the contrast.


Another glass and light display, this one is at the San Marco vaporetto (water bus) stop. Gave off some wild looking blue reflections~


Here's an example of what natural light can do to the surface of the canals~


Thanks for visiting and happy holidays! You can find more photohunters and see a list of upcoming themes here.


January 17, 2012

A is for Angel

ABC Wednesday is a meme that's been rolling through the alphabet for over five years. This week is the beginning of Round Ten, and I decided to join in the fun.

A is for Angel, and while there are many lovely angels in Venice, this is my favorite. This one can be found outside on the back of the church of Santa Fosca and is 700 or so years old, older than the church building itself. Santa Fosca was founded in the 10th century but rebuilt in 1679. More than likely, the angel was inside an older incarnation of the church and then moved outside when they rebuilt. She's a beautiful guardian for the little campo behind the church.

Santa Fosca

Santa Fosca

Santa Fosca

Home of ABC Wednesday


January 27, 2012

PhotoHunt: Dark

This week's PhotoHunt theme is "Dark.."

An appropriate theme for me today. This morning before the sun came up, there was a thunderstorm that caused a power outage in my neighborhood. It was completely dark and I had to creep around my house for a while to find my hurricane lamp and flashlights, but thank goodness I'd already made coffee before the electricity went out.

It was too dark to take any power outage pics, so here are a couple photos of Venice after dark (with a full moon).



Thanks for visiting! You can find more photohunters and see a list of upcoming themes on Gattina's website here.


February 7, 2012

D is for Doors

Here's a small collection of water doors (porte d'acqua) in Venice (there are hundreds of these in the city of canals).

Hard to tell if some of these are still being used or not. A couple of them aren't even doors anymore!

water door

water door

water door

A beautiful former door~

former door

Not sure about this one but it looks like the door is now two windows, maybe?~

water door

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


February 10, 2012


The theme for this week's Saturday Photo Hunt is "vintage."

A vintage street sign in Venice with the name of the street (Calle Cappello) carved in stone. There aren't many of these around the city anymore.

Calle Cappello

These days, the street signs in Venice look like this. Not as artistic but easier to read~

street sign

And here's a vintage metal sign pointing the way to the Scuola di San Rocco, which is filled to overflowing with paintings by Tintoretto. These old metal signs directing people to various historic sights have been mostly replaced by signs made out of some modern weather-proof material.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


February 14, 2012

E is for Emperor

There are thousands of pieces of art on the streets of Venice (“scultura esterna” means “outdoor sculpture"), and this emperor is one of the most interesting and also most mysterious. Everyone agrees that he’s a Byzantine emperor but which one? When and how did he end up in Venice? And were there once two of them, now separated?

Campiello Angaran

Some sources believe that this marble medallion shows Emperor Leo VI the Wise, who ruled the Byzantine empire from 886-911 AD. Others think that the relief shows Emperor Isaac II Angelus (1185-1195) or perhaps his brother, Alexis.

There’s a similar piece in the Byzantine collection at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. This other medallion came from Venice and might have been a companion piece to the one still there, leading to the possibility that the emperors depicted were father and son team, Alexios I and John II, who reigned jointly (1092-1118).

Most sources think that the sculpture was brought to Venice from Constantinople along with so much other loot the Venetians stole from that city during the Crusades. But there’s another story that a Venetian general sent the medallion home to Venice from the Holy Land as a spoil of war in 1256.

Campiello Angaran

What’s amazing to me is that it’s still outside, exposed to the elements, and not in a museum. Evidently museums have tried to acquire it, but the owners of the house where it resides won’t give it up (though they have allowed it to be removed and exhibited at times).

The photos below show the entrance to the house (in Campiello Angaran close to the church of San Pantalon) and there’s another mystery, the four scallop shells flanking the emperor. The scallop shell is a symbol of St. James but why are they there? And something I just noticed last night. The first photo was taken in 2008, the second in 2010, and you can see that some pink stucco was added but only to the right side. Why only half?

Many unanswered questions!

Campiello Angaran

Campiello Angaran

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


February 17, 2012


The theme for this week's Saturday Photo Hunt is "circles."

I love this theme even though I seem to take many photos of circles and it was tough to narrow it down. Here's a small collection of circles that can be found in Venice~

San Marco 4864

Dorsoduro 3254/A

San Trovaso


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


February 21, 2012

F is for Faces

A couple of years ago, I posted some photos of the Faces of Venice and since this is "F" week, I thought I'd share some more. Some of these might be familiar if you've been to Venice before. Some of them are fading beauties, others are just strange! All of them can be found outside while walking around the city.

San Zaccaria

Castello 2570

San Marco

Castello 2581 A


Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


February 24, 2012

PhotoHunt: Old

Old is relative, of course, and some things that Americans think are old are modern when compared to the European timeline.

So here are some old photographs of Venice, all taken in the late-19th century which makes them over 100 years old, which isn't old at all in terms of the history of Venice but IS old in the history of photography. (You can click on the photos to see larger sizes).

Some of you will recognize this vera da pozzo (well-head) - no longer in use today but still there for us to admire.


Pigeons swarming a child - a sight I've seen in Venice myself!


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


February 28, 2012

G is for Graffiti

Is it art or is it vandalism? Or maybe both? I'm not sure, but there's no doubt that Venice has a graffiti problem. There's way too much of it, it's all over the place, and most of it is ugly meaningless eyesore gibberish on so many of those beautiful historic buildings.

Someone told me that the city of Venice does have a graffiti removal team but that its entire budget goes towards keeping the Piazza San Marco area clean. That explains why there's graffiti in other parts of the city that lingers for years. Like this guy - I've seen him every time I've visited Venice!

Venice graffiti

This insect (?) with a red heart in a net has been there for years too.

Santa Croce

So I guess I lean more towards the vandalism side of the debate but even so, I do sometimes see graffiti that catches my eye or makes me smile.




There's something poignant about this guy. Who? And why is so much of this graffiti in English???


And while it's crazy that anyone would even consider putting graffiti on a church, I have to confess that I laughed when I saw this on the deconsecrated church of San Toma.

San Toma

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


March 9, 2012

PhotoHunt: Power

The 14th century Palazzo Ducale (or Doges' Palace) was for centuries the seat of power for the Venetian empire.

Palazzo Ducale

From "Venice and Its Lagoon" by Giulio Lorenzetti:

"The Doges' Palace - the seat of government of the old Republic - was the highest expression of the glorious and powerful Serenissima in its splendour and magnificence of art. It was the Doges' residence, the main administrative building, the public Archives and the Palace of Justice; the most decisive events in the history of the thousand years old Republic, both those culminating in greatness and in misfortune, took place between its walls."

John Ruskin, author of "The Stones of Venice" and worshipper of Venetian Gothic architecture, called it "a model of all perfection" and "the central building of the world."

Palazzo Ducale

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


March 13, 2012

I is for Icons

There are many icons of Mary in the churches of Venice, and you can even find a few in the street shrines.

Venice also has a Museum of Icons close to the Greek church (San Giorgio dei Greci), and this first shrine below is near the museum with one of the icons represented inside.

Castello 3412

This street shrine on the island of Murano pays homage to one of Venice's most revered icons, the Madonna Nikopeia in the Basilica di San Marco.


This one can be found on Giudecca.


Another one in mosaic that honors the Madonna Nikopeia.

San Marco

This one is close to the church of Santa Maria Formosa.


If you're interested in icons (not just in Venice), I highly recommend this book by Sister Wendy Beckett, Encounters with God: In Quest of the Ancient Icons of Mary. It's a "road trip" pilgrimage book about Sister Wendy's travels to visit the eight oldest icons of Mary. These icons survived the 8th century wholesale destruction of all icons and religious art, making them some of the oldest Christian art in existence.

Five of them are in Rome, and the other three are in London, Egypt, and the Ukraine. The book has nice color photos, and it's amazing how unique and powerful these ancient sacred images are.


Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


March 20, 2012

J is for Jurassic

Happy Equinox!

First, I wanted to let everyone know that we had to add word verification to the comments on my blog. The Slow Travel blogs were getting bombarded with spam which made things go funky.

The good news is that it's (hopefully) a user-friendly verification, not one of those blurry hard-to-decipher codes. Under my comment box, you simply type my name (Annie). I'm very grateful to everyone who visits my blog and takes the time to leave comments, so I'm glad that Kim from Slow Travel was able to come up with a solution that should be easy and painless. Please let me know if you have any problems!

So J is for Jurassic, the age of dinosaurs and also the name of a cool little store in Venice.

Jurassic Shop

This shop sells fossils, stones, crystals, and jewelry. I'm not a rock collector, but I do enjoy looking at them. But what really attracted me to this place were the swirly spiral fossils on the sign and also in the window.

Jurassic Shop

They reminded me of the fossils that I love to look for when I visit the churches in Venice. These fossils are embedded in the marble floors and are fun to find. This particular one is in the church of Angelo Raffaele (dedicated to Archangel Raphael).


Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


March 23, 2012

PhotoHunt: Shoes

Happy weekend! I wanted to let everyone know that there is now word verification on the comments on my blog because all of the Slow Travel blogs were getting spammed. The good news is that it's (hopefully) a user-friendly verification and will be easy to do. Under my comment box, you simply type my name (Annie). There's a clue there to remind you.

When I saw the "shoes" theme, I knew what I wanted to do, but I couldn't find my photo. Thanks SO much to my friend, Bert, who knew exactly what I was looking for, sent his nice photo and allowed me to use it for this theme. You can see more of Bert's photos on Venice Daily Photo.

This relief is on the former headquarters of the German shoemakers or cobblers (Scuola dei Calegheri Tedeschi) in Venice. Three shoes on the bottom and an image of the Annunciation scene on top. The Blessed Virgin of the Annuciation was the shoemakers' patron saint.


The German shoemakers came to Venice and established a presence in this neighborhood in the late 14th century. In addition to their scuola, they had warehouses and shops, and there are at least four shoes etched into pillars around here. Many of these shoemakers are buried in the nearby church of Santo Stefano.

These chunky heel, square-toe shoes are back in style, I think!


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


March 25, 2012

Feast of the Annunciation

Today (March 25) is the Feast of the Annunciation which celebrates Archangel Gabriel's visit to Mary, bringing her a lily and the news that in nine months, she would give birth to Jesus.

And legend has it that March 25 is also the date when Venice was founded, in the year 421 AD. Garry Wills' book, "Venice: Lion City" explores "the religion of empire" and all the many ways the Venetians interwove their history with the sacred Christian stories. He notes "the serene assurance Venetians had that the Virgin of the Annunciation blesses everything they do" and makes the funny observation that "only the Venetians could be confident that their city, born miraculously from the sea, is an earthly echo of the conception of the Saviour himself." (!)

There are scenes of the Annunciation all over Venice, most notably on the Rialto bridge and also at the city's highest point (on top of the San Marco campanile). Here's a smaller and more humble one, which can be found on the same building as the one in the my last post.


Archangel Gabriel on the left and Mary on the right~

Archangel Gabriel


March 25 is always a day of celebration in Venice, but this year, the festivities include welcoming the new Patriarch of Venice who was appointed by the Pope in January. After visiting various churches on the mainland, the Patriarch came to Venice, did a blessing of the children ceremony at Santa Lucia station, processed down the Grand Canal, stopped at Santa Maria della Salute for prayer, and then went to San Marco for Mass. There are some photos of these festivities on Flickr. Benvenuto Patriarca Francesco!

April 20, 2012

PhotoHunt: Humor

Some one was having fun with doorbell graffiiti in Venice.

doorbell graffiti

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


May 1, 2012

P is for Palazzi

"Palazzo" is often translated into English as "palace" which isn't exactly right since it gives the impression that it's a residence where royalty live. Basically, in Italy, a palazzo is a grand and impressive building, and there are many of them (palazzi) all over Venice.

Here are a few along the Grand Canal. I took these photos while riding the vaporetto (water bus), public transportation at its finest.




Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


May 4, 2012

PhotoHunt: Advertising

Before I travel anywhere, I do lots of research on the web, but the best way to find out what's happening in Venice is to look at the posters displayed at various points around town.

You can learn about "magic listenings, sweet tastings, and charming events" that happen during "Winter in Venice."


You can find out about art exhibits:

I liked this one advertising a free workshop about creating and maintaining a blog!

'Un blog" in Italian. :)


Effective advertising at its best: this sweet little note in the window of the oldest handmade paper shop in Venice~


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


May 15, 2012

R is for Riflessi

"Riflessi" is Italian for reflections, one of the most fun things to photograph in Venice. Some people say that, of all the cities in Europe, Venice has changed the least since medieval times. But what you see reflected in those canals is constantly changing. Sometimes the water seems like a mirror, other times you get something more impressionistic. You can click on the photos to see them larger on Flickr.







Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


June 1, 2012

PhotoHunt: Bridges

Bridges galore in Venice! But how many bridges are there in the city of canals? If you google that question, you'll get many different answers starting at 387 and going up. Wikipedia says that the city with the world-record for the most bridges is Pittsburgh, PA which has 446 bridges, 3 more than Venice has. So maybe Venice has 443? I'm not sure anyone knows for sure, and counting them would be such a challenge.

Anyway, here's a random look at a few of Venice's bridges. Many of the bridges are made of stone like this one below.


This small wooden bridge leads into Poste Vecie, the oldest restaurant in Venice, serving since 1500.

Poste Vecie

A lacy metal bridge with gondola parked nearby~

Some bridges have a shrine~

Castello 2641

Same bridge as above with shadows cast by the handrails~

A photo I took while standing on a bridge~


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


June 8, 2012

PhotoHunt: Graveyard

Venice's cemetery island, San Michele in Isola, is the most lovely graveyard I've ever visited. With all those cypress trees and so many flowers, it's a beautiful and peaceful place.

San Michele in Isola

San Michele in Isola

San Michele in Isola

San Michele in Isola

There are two churches on this island. The photo below shows the 19th century church of San Cristoforo which is covered with mosaics inside.

San Cristoforo

The other one is the magnificent Renaissance church of San Michele in Isola.

San Michele in Isola

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.


June 19, 2012

W is for Water

Well, it's definitely one of my favorite things to photograph. These first two were taken at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh.

The first is one of the reflecting pools outside the museum, and the second is in the museum restaurant called Iris.

NC Museum of Art

Iris (the restaurant)

A goose family that I saw this spring at a local pond~


And here are a couple from Venice.

The first is a view of Venice from the island of Murano; the second is the Grand Canal.

View from Murano

Grand Canal

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


July 10, 2012

Z is for Zattere

Yay! We've made it to Z, the last letter in the alphabet. This has been a fun challenge. Thanks to all the folks who have visited and left such lovely comments on my blog.

So, here is the Zattere (the word means "rafts"). If you go to Venice, you're sure to spend some time walking along the waterfront street (or quay) called the Zattere and admiring its fantastic views.

From "Venice and Its Lagoon" by Giulio Lorenzetti:

"This broad promenade was known in the old days as la Carbonaria from the coal which was unloaded here. It was paved in 1519 and is today one of the prettiest walks in the city at midday along beside the wide Giudecca Canal, looking towards the Giudecca island. The name comes from the "zattere" (rafts) of timber which were brought down the rivers and moored here."

This coming weekend is the Festa del Redentore, a celebration that began in the mid-16th century to celebrate the end of a terrible outbreak of plague in Venice. The Venetians build a temporary bridge from the Zattere across the Giudecca canal to the church of the Redentore and walk across in thanksgiving.

Here is a view of some of the buildings along the Zattere, taken from a vaporetto in the canal. The larger church is the Gesuati and the smaller one is Santa Maria della Visitazione.


Zattere is also the name of a vaporetto (water bus) stop in this part of Venice~

Another view of the Zattere stop and the church~


Walking along the Zattere, you might notice this former door that's now a window with a sculpture of a girl with her hair tied beneath her chin~


You can also find this small shrine along the Zattere~

Dorsoduro 917 A

There's a silver saint inside the shrine. It might be Padre Pio but I'm not sure.

Dorsoduro 917 A

Visit the home of ABC Wednesday to find more Round 10 participants!


January 2, 2013

Campanili (let's play!)

I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. Best wishes for a wonderful new year - I hope that we all will be able to spend some time in Venice (or anywhere else on your travel wish list) in 2013.

I wanted to let you know that A Lover of Venice has a new game in progress: Campanili! 56 photos of bell towers and belfries to identify. It's challenging but I'm having lots of fun with it.

Here's a mini-quiz, not too hard. Can you identify the three towers in this photo?

3 towers

January 15, 2013

Filippo de Pisis

I learned about this artist while reading Hugh Honour's Companion Guide to Venice (a fantastic book organized as a series of thematic walking tours).

Before he reached the church of San Sebastiano in Dorsoduro, Mr. Honour pointed out a red Gothic palazzo and said that it had been the home of artist Filippo de Pisis (1896-1956), "one of the few modern painters who has successfully caught the flicker of Venetian light." High praise indeed!

I was happy to find (via Google) many of de Pisis' paintings on the web. He was born in Ferrara, lived in Paris and Rome, and then spent most of the 1940's in Venice. Sounds like he was quite a character - he would set up his easel in the calli and campi, and paint with his pet parrot, Coco, sitting on his shoulder. He also owned his own gondola and employed a full-time gondolier.

He painted many Venetian scenes including a number of churches (and not only the most famous ones). I like his work a lot.

I posted his painting of the church of San Lorenzo here and a few more are below.

San Moise


San Pantalon


Santa Maria della Salute




Thanks so much to Bert for sending these photos of the palazzo where de Pisis lived. The plaque above the door says that the artist lived there from 1943-49. If anyone knows anything about the other degraded plaques on this house, please let us know!

Dorsoduro 1709

Dorsoduro 1709

January 26, 2013

PhotoHunt: Architecture or Building

One of the oldest and most breath-takingly beautiful palaces on the Grand Canal in Venice, Ca' d'Oro (golden house) was built in 1420-1431 by the Contarini family in the Venetian Gothic style.

Over the next four centuries, it had at least a dozen different owners until 1894 when it was purchased by Baron Giorgio Franchetti. He did an extensive restoration and left the palace plus his fantastic art collection to the state.

Today it's an art museum: Galleria Giorgio Franchetti. Well worth visiting if you are in Venice!




Ca' d'Oro

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

February 15, 2013

PhotoHunt: Food

When in Venice, do as the Venetians do and eat cichetti, delicious little bar snacks usually eaten standing up and enjoyed with a glass of wine or two. One of the best places for cichetti is shown in the photo below, Cantinone gia Schiavi (also known as Al Bottegon), an eatery ranked in the Top Ten restaurants in Venice on Trip Advisor despite the fact that it's not a "sit down" restaurant at all - it's an osteria (a wine bar that serves food). It's a lively place, filled with both locals and tourists, and the food is wonderful. You can also buy a bottle of wine to take back to your hotel or apartment.

Cantinone gia Schiavi

I love that this place has its very own shrine to the Madonna next to the entrance. She has a halo of electric red lights around her head~

Dorsoduro 992

The photo above was taken in 2007 while the one below is from 2010. The blue paint outlining the shrine had chipped off but she does have some flowers this time~


Another view of Cantinone gia Schiavi. This osteria is across the canal from the church of San Trovaso in Dorsoduro.

Cantinone gia Schiavi

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 12, 2013

Papal Conclave

Last night I watched some of the coverage of the papal conclave in Rome. I wonder how long until we see the white smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel chimney? It's exciting, and there are a couple of Venice connections that I thought I'd share.

The Papal Conclave of 1799-1800 was held in Venice (and that was the last time that it wasn't held in Rome). At that time, Rome was occupied by Napoleon who had given Venice to the Austrians; they allowed for the Papal Conclave to be held in the church and monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore.

In my post about that church, I wrote about the kind monk who allowed me to go upstairs to the chapel where the conclave was held. I wanted to visit this chapel not because of the historic conclave but to see the Carpaccio painting of St. George and the Dragon over the altar. It was interesting to see that the chapel still commemorates the conclave with the names of the cardinals on the tables.

The Venetian Papal Conclave was a long one - 105 days, from November 30 1799 until March 14, 1880 when Pope Pius VII was elected. A charming little detail - because all the papal treasures were in Rome, they had to make a papal tiara in Venice from papier-mâché. Venetian noblewomen donated jewels to decorate this make-shift crown for the new Pope, and a few subsequent popes continued to wear this tiara because it was light-weight and comfortable. This Venetian-made tiara is now in the Vatican museum.

A view of San Giorgio Maggiore~

San Giorgio Maggiore

And another Venice connection - one of the leading candidates to become the new Pope is Cardinal Angelo Scola, who was the Patriarch of Venice from 2002-2011 (he left Venice in 2011 when he became the Archbishop of Milan). I actually attended Mass with him a few times in Basilica di San Marco when he was the Patriarch. Oddsmakers have him as the front-runner, though some people think it's time for the Church to shake things up with a younger and/or non-European pope. But it has been 35 years since the last Italian pope - perhaps that's the direction they'll go?

A 2009 photo of Angelo Scola celebrating Mass in the cathedral on Torcello~


March 16, 2013

PhotoHunt: Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean, on the North Carolina coast~


Sunset in Venice~


Another sunset in Venice, behind the church of San Giorgio Maggiore~


Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend. It's almost Spring!

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

June 3, 2013

La Biennale di Venezia

La Biennale di Venezia opened this week and already, there are some great articles and images on the web. So I thought I'd share a few links~

Why Venice Matters

Slide Show of most memorable works

Venetian Finds (emerging artists)

Official Twitter page (you can find many more links here)

And if you need a little break from the modern, a look at Venice's past~

Venice in Ten Artworks

This year for the first time, the Vatican has a pavilion at La Biennale. Below is a photo from Flickr of the Patriarch of Venice at the Inaugurazione padiglione Santa Sede (Opening of the Holy See Pavilion).


I hope to resume regular blogging soon - hope everyone is having a nice spring.

June 7, 2013

PhotoHunt: Venice Skies

I hope you enjoy this look at the ever-changing skies of Venice~

Sometimes the sky is vivid blue~

Venice skies

Sometimes it is partly cloudy~

Venice skies

Sometimes there's a moon~

Venice skies

Sometimes the sky is reflected~

Venice skies

Sometimes the sky is gray~

Venice skies

Sometimes there are orbs!

Venice skies

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

June 21, 2013

PhotoHunt: Sculpture

An interesting modern sculpture in Venice. Its title is Il Vento e Il Sole (The Wind and the Sun), and the artist is Italian sculptor, Matteo Lo Greco.

Il Vento e Il Sole

This sculpture is right beside the church of San Fantin in sestiere San Marco.

San Fantin

A few more sculptures in the window of a gallery near the same church~

venice window

The most renowned outdoor sculpture in Venice is the 15th century Renaissance equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in the campo in front of the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo (the large brick building to the right) and
the Scuola Grande di San Marco (the white marble building which is now the hospital).


The sculpture's pedestal is a popular place for the pigeons to hang out~


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

August 9, 2013

PhotoHunt: A Play of Light

It's so much fun to stroll around and see the constantly changing play of light on the canals of Venice.







Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

September 13, 2013

PhotoHunt: Outdoors

There are a bunch of museums in Venice that I haven't visited yet because, unless it's raining, I prefer to stay outdoors and roam around.

One of the things you'll see when you wander around Venice are these small residential courtyards, so very charming. Here are a few of them.

First is Campiello del Curnis, in the sestiere San Polo. One of my guidebooks says that it's "embellished by a large woodbine plant and named after a family which came from Bergamo to trade in sweetmeats."

What's a woodbine plant? I learned from Wikipedia that it can be a number of things including honeysuckle and Virginia creeper. I was there in winter when the vine was dormant, and I'd love to see what this looks like in spring when it's in bloom.

And what exactly is this thing the vine is in? An outdoor planter? Where's the dirt? When was the last time someone opened that door? So interesting!

Campiello del Curnis

Campiello del Curnis

Another courtyard named for a family, Corte Petriana has a distinctive entrance with a beautiful relief that shows the Madonna and Child above, angels in the top corners, and two dragons below. In between is the family coat of arms with a half-moon underneath a tree.

The Petriana family were from Umbria and became Venetian citizens in 1396. Inside the courtyard are some nice old columns and a modern basketball hoop on the window.

Corte Petriana

Corte Petriana

Corte Petriana

In sestiere Santa Croce, you can find the lovely Corte del Tagiapiera (stone-cutters). I guess that at one time, there were stone masons living or working here. Whoever lives here today has a green thumb. The entrance is a short tunnel and what a surprise when you get inside the corte.

Corte del Tagiapiera

Corte del Tagiapiera

Corte del Tagiapiera

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

October 18, 2013

PhotoHunt: Vehicles

One of the reasons that I love Venice so much is the fact that there are no cars. Venice is a medieval city, for the most part, with narrow streets and canals, and simply no place to put modern roads. Until you've been to a place like this, you don't realize how much traffic noise (and its exhaust) have become part of our everyday normal experience. What a relief it is to be away from it!

So as far as vehicles with wheels go, the only ones you'll encounter in Venice belong to children. Tiny bikes and plastic three-wheelers and such can be seen in Venice's residential neighborhoods. One day while wandering around, I saw this small motorcycle (with training wheels), spray painted in gold. No children in sight, it was just sitting there waiting for its owner (Tommy G) to come back and ride.


Another vehicle I found in Venice (and much less charming than Tommy G.'s) was this "work of art" in the campo next to Palazzo Grassi (a palace on the Grand Canal that's now a museum of contemporary art). It's a 1987 Buick Regal wrapped in vinyl. Art or eyesore?


I love how the sign warns us that it's under "constant" surveillance, in three languages no less. Who would want to steal it? Maybe they were afraid that someone would come along with a can of gold spray paint.


Boats are the true vehicles of Venice. Most of them are small and well-suited for the canals, but sometimes you'll see one like this creating a big old traffic jam.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

November 15, 2013

PhotoHunt: Fruit

Clementines are one of my favorite winter fruits. These were for sale on the green grocer barge close to San Barnaba in Venice.


San Barnaba barge

Also in Venice, a relief with five pomegranates (another favorite fruit in the winter time)~


I think these are apples or maybe peaches. This relief is in the Rialto Market area of Venice and a few hundred years ago, it was the emblem of the fruit-sellers' guild (Confraternita dei Fruttarioli) whose headquarters were here.


Persimmons? This was taken in December so it's another winter fruit. The dome in the background belongs to the church of San Rocco.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

December 21, 2013

PhotoHunt: Decorations

Happy Holidays!

I love this theme since decorations are so much fun to photograph.

December 12 was the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The last time I visited a Catholic church was several years ago in Venice, but I heard that a local church had an amazing altar so I went. Click on the photo for more images - it was beautiful. All fresh flowers, roses and lilies, and the scent was incredible. Though there was a big difference between this altar and the ones I've visited in Italy.....LED candles! I put my donation in the box, pushed a button, and the candle came on. :)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I have a set on Flickr of some of my favorite holiday decorations, mostly roadside nativity scenes here in NC. Lots of people decorate their yards for the holidays, and if I spot a nativity, I pull over.

Many people have plastic figurines in their yards so this first one is kinda special. Folk art at its best - I can't imagine how long it took to sew and create all these nativity characters.

Roadside Nativity #1

Away in a Manger

But even the store-bought decorations have their special magic, especially at night~

Roadside Nativity #4

I like the black/white simplicity of this one~

roadside nativity #7

And from the sublime to the ridiculous, here is my all-time fave indoor holiday decoration. One of my aunts gave it to me as a gift and every year when I bring it out, I laugh. Cheerleader reindeers with sneakers on...who thought of such a thing?!?


I love Christmas lights, LED or other~


And now for a few shots from Venice. First, a glass Christmas tree next to the Basilica di San Marco (sponsored by the Casino di Venezia).

Christmas in Venice

In Venice, you see a lot of these climbing Santas scaling buildings~

Christmas in Venice

And I've posted this one before but it's my fave. The little blue tree in a campo in Venice.

blue christmas

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend. Have a great holiday next week! :)

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

January 17, 2014

PhotoHunt: Two

Campo Do Pozzi

"Campo Do Pozzi" translates to a campo with two wells. But as you can see in the photo below, there's only one well there today. What happened to the other one?

(Kudos to the resident of this campo who was trying to stuff his trash into the trash can despite the fact that his neighbors had dumped their trash alongside the well.)

Campo Do Pozzi

But check this out. On the side of the one remaining well, there's a relief that shows two wells! This well dates back to the 16th century, and the fact that they chose to honor the existence of two wells shows us how important wells were back in the day before modern plumbing (a time I can't and don't want to imagine!)~

Campo Do Pozzi

There's a beautiful shrine in this campo too with an image of Titian's Assunta inside~

Campo Do Pozzi

Campo Do Pozzi

Campo Do Pozzi

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

January 24, 2014

PhotoHunt: Wine

These big glass jugs of wine are familar sights in Italy. I'm not sure what the Italian word for them is, but maybe someone else will know.

The four jugs in the first photo were empty, sitting outside in a campo in Venice. My guess is that someone picked them up and brought them back refilled. When you order the "house wine" in Italy, it often comes from one of these glass jugs (and the glass is protected by the basket surrounding it).

Vino Venice

Here's another one, sitting on a barrel outside Osteria da Alberto (a great place to eat if you're ever in Venice).

Vino Venice

This is a half bottle of wine - nice for when you are dining alone and don't want to get completely sloshed.

Vino Venice

And last but not least, a glass of prosecco. It's light and bubbly and delicious!

Vino Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

February 8, 2014

PhotoHunt: Water

A charming piece of street art in Venice showing The Baptism of Christ. I love how the artist carved those squiggly lines to represent the water.


This carving is very small and can be found above the entrance to a home, in between the street number and an electric light.


A carving of John the Baptist can also be found on this unusual cube-shaped vera da pozzo (well head) in the campo behind the church of San Giovanni in Bragora ~


And here's a well surrounded by water in a flooded campo. I wasn't able to get close to this one to see if any saints were carved on it.


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 1, 2014

PhotoHunt: Steps

There are so many steps in Venice (all those bridges!), but I didn't have a lot of photos of them. I did find a few though.

Here are some steps with a wooden barricade at the bottom. Check out all those green plants growing from the stones. Nature prevails!

Venice steps

Steps leading up to some apartments. More green plants here. It's good to live in upper stories in Venice since ground-level apartments can fall victim to acqua alta (flooding).

Venice steps

A set of steps in this photo and also the high rise sidewalks that you walk on when acqua alta rises. Stepping up onto these platforms can be challenging!

Venice steps

These steps look slippery~

Venice steps

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

March 6, 2014

Two More Reliefs

Earlier this year, I wrote about Campo Do Pozzi and showed a photo of the relief on the side of the vera da pozzo (well head) that shows two wells.

There are a couple of other reliefs on that same well. There's something poignant about these weather-beaten saints (and I learned their identities from one of my books; I didn't recognize them on sight).

Both of these images are related to churches in parishes close to Campo Do Pozzi. The church of San Martino is still standing, but Santa Ternita was demolished in the 19th century. I've started looking for info about Santa Ternita and hope to do a post about that church soon. :)

San Martino

Campo Do Pozzo

Three Angels symbolizing the Holy Trinity (Santa Ternita)

Campo San Pozzo

March 29, 2014

PhotoHunt: Trees

There aren't a lot of trees in Venice, but there are more than you might expect. Here are a few.

A sweet little tree next to a vera da pozzo~

trees in Venice

A sculpture surrounded by trees. Not sure who this guy is (he looks like he's doing calisthenics)~

trees in Venice

Several trees plus the bell tower of San Vidal.
This one was taken from a vaporetto going down the Grand Canal~

San Vidal

And here's my favorite. One of my walking tour guide books mentions in passing that "at the 17th century Palazzo Surian, a tree can be seen sticking out from a window."

Yes, it can but why? Another Venetian mystery!

trees in Venice

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

April 18, 2014

Still Life

When I saw this week's PhotoHunt theme, I immediately thought of Tom Robbins' great novel, Still Life with Woodpecker, which begins with a quote from Erica Jong: "There are no such things as still lifes."

I guess it depends on how you define "still" or inanimate. When I think of still life in art, fruit and flowers come to mind. They can't get up and walk around, but they are alive and changing, not really still.

Anyway, here's an interesting painting by Giorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) called "Still Life in a Venetian Landscape." The apples are "still" but the lagoon landscape is not! This was done during the artist's neo-Baroque phase; a couple of his more surrealist paintings are in the Peggy Guggenheim collection in Venice. I like the colors - you can click on it to see it larger.

Still life in Venetian landscape

I found very few photos I'd taken in Venice that work for this theme. Though I guess technically a street shrine might be called still life? I did find a few more classic still life views.

A basket of pomegranates and squash at a trattoria by a canal~

still life

Still Life with Digital Clock, taken at the B&B where I stayed the last time I was in Venice.

still life

Another scene from the B&B~

still life

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

See a list of upcoming Saturday Photo Hunting themes on Gattina's website here.

May 31, 2014

PhotoHunt: Jewelry

Last month I did a post about the Madonna Nikopeia and her missing jewelry which would have been perfect for this theme too.

Wasn't sure I had more Venice-related jewelry photos but I found a couple (I guess that rosaries are jewelry, of sorts. Sacred jewelry?)

Love the colors of these rosaries - they remind me of Mardi Gras beads.


And here is Santa Lucia (St. Lucy) with rosary beads in her hand. This is inside the church of Santi Geremia e Lucia in Cannaregio.

Santa Lucia

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

July 26, 2014

PhotoHunt: Modern Architecture


The drawing above is by Frank Lloyd Wright and shows his proposed building in Venice (which ended up being "too modern" for some people and was never built).

The architect worked on this design from 1951-53. The building was intended to be student housing for the university of Ca' Foscari and would be a memorial to young Venetian architect Angelo Masieri. Masieri's parents owned the triangular piece of land close to the university (and next to Palazzo Balbi) where the dorm would have been built.

The design was a modern palazzo with a façade that would have included Murano glass. Frank Lloyd Wright said,

"Venice does not float upon the water, but rests upon the silt at the bottom of the sea. In the little building that I have designed slender marble shafts, firmly fixed upon concrete piles (two to each) in the silt, rise from the water as do reeds or rice or any water plants. These marble piers carry the floor construction securely - the cantilever slab floors thus made safe to project between them into balconies overhanging the water - Venetian as Venetian can be. Not imitation but interpretation of Venice. "

While the project had some supporters, many Venetians were opposed. Angelo Masieri's father passed away during the negotiations and the project died shortly thereafter too.

There is some modern architecture in Venice but much of it was designed to look old, not modern.

Another scrapped modern building: Pierre Cardin's tower.

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

August 9, 2014

PhotoHunt: Music

"I know, it's only rock and roll..."

This summer is the 25th anniversary of Pink Floyd's infamous concert in Venice. This show was one of the stops on Pink Floyd's "A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour" - so apropos! Whoever decided that Venice could handle such an event definitely had a lapse of some sort. :)

Pretty much everyone agrees that it was a disaster.

From the Piazza San Marco website:

On the evening of 15 July 1989 on the Feast of the Redeemer, the historic English rock band Pink Floyd held a concert in the basin of San Marco in front of the Palazzo Ducale on a floating stage 24 meters high and towed by a barge 90 meters to 30. Venice was invaded by more than two hundred thousand people, a lot of people that shook the city demonstrating its inability to support events of this magnitude. Lacked all essential services (security, hygiene, first aid) and most of the bars and public places in the face of this invasion had closed its doors after learning that the police were not able to provide security. So the city was covered with excrement and tons of waste. The streets and squares transformed into open-air baths and the Piazza San Marco in a big dump. The controversy in the aftermath of the concert and the use of the city for events of this type were hot both locally and nationally...

Here's what David Gilmour of Pink Floyd said~

"We had a really good time, but the city authorities who had agreed to provide the services of security, toilets, food, completely reneged on everything they were supposed to do, and then tried to blame all the subsequent problems on us."

The stage looked very cool out in the lagoon~


Here's a video that shows the mountain of garbage left behind.

So to commemorate this 25th anniversary, a group called Floydseum is having an exhibit in Venice in the deconsecrated church of Santa Marta.

What an interesting use for a former church! A night of wonders...


While it's pretty certain that Venice will never host a concert like this again, this one won't be forgotten. In 2010, I saw this poster below. Hard Rock Cafe Venezia was sponsoring another walk down memory lane about the Pink Floyd concert.

hard rock cafe venezia

Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

November 7, 2014

A few more dragons

A few years ago, I wrote about my small and accidental collection of dragons in Venice. Here are a few more!

These first two came from Lawrence, a serious dragon hunter/collector who found a couple of obscure ones on his last trip to Venice. This first one is on the facade of Palazzo Dandolo, which was being restored for quite some time but finally the scaffolding came down, and St.George and the dragon were revealed.

Palazzo Dandolo

This second one is in Campo de la Tana, a campo with a gate. I photographed this one through the bars of the gate, but Lawrence was lucky to find the gate unlocked and was able to get a better image of it.

Campo de la Tana

This third dragon was shared by Bert - this is Santa Margherita and her dragon in an altar in San Nicolo dei Mendicoli. The dragon is funny looking - is he smiling? More likely, he's grimacing about being chained to the saint (who looks very peaceful and unconcerned about the fire-breathing creature at her side).

Santa Margherita and the dragon

Thanks to Lawrence and Bert for allowing me to share these pics. :)

January 28, 2015

Snowfall in Venice

snowfall in venice by BrunoRosso 1965

This beautiful photo of Piazza San Marco was taken by Bruno Rosso in 1965. It's now part of the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. You can see a larger image here.

I love the mood of this photo. I've never experienced snow in Venice - I hope to some day. A Lover of Venice has a magical trip through Snow-covered Venice on his site (so glad that ALoV is back on line!).

Hope everyone is having a nice winter without too much extreme cold.

April 9, 2015

A new problem

Basilica sea gulls

It made me sad to read this article in The Venice Times about how Venice's legendary pigeon problem is now a seagull problem. As with so many of the other challenges facing Venice, I have no solutions. But does anyone want to go to Venice or any other city where there are no birds or other creatures besides humans? I've always sympathized with the Venetian pigeons (even though I didn't like being swarmed by them when I was eating a panini outdoors). And as I wrote on my blog early on, I once saw a seagull kill and eat the heart of a pigeon in Piazza San Marco. Romantic Venice, not!
They aren't that lovable, but don't seagulls have the right to live in a city by the sea? It's kinda overwhelming to think about and yes, maybe I'm a dreamer, but I hope that someday nature will be in balance - not just in Venice, but everywhere on our beautiful out-of-whack planet Earth.

seagulls in Venice

seagulls in Venice

August 10, 2015

Power lines

madonna dell' orto

When I found this early 20th century photo of Madonna dell'Orto, it took a few moments for me to realize, "what's wrong with this picture?"'s the power poles and power lines standing in the campo in front of the church. They are no longer there - at some point, the various utilities were relocated so that they snake alongside the buildings and aren't free-standing like they were in this photo. A good move - it's hard to imagine Venice with poles blocking the views.

In the photo below, you can see some power lines and something else encased in a pipe. I didn't take this photo because of the utilities though. What caught my eye were the two small hearts.


What are they? Two small open hearts surrounded by glass tiles (though some are missing now). Another Venetian mystery!


And you can sometimes see mysterious letters embedded in the Venetian pavement. Just speculation here, but I wonder if these letters might indicate underground utilities. If anyone knows what they are, please share.



And here's one of my favorites shrines in Venice.
Power lines above, graffiti below, fresh flowers in tinfoil vases.


August 26, 2015

Venetian Light


“That the light of Venice differs from that of any other place there can be no doubt, but to discover precisely how it differs is a task that has baffled both writers and painters. (It is worth noting that, whereas most of the best paintings of Rome are by foreigners to the city, only the Venetians have been able to capture the atmosphere of Venice: even Turner and Monet failed, hard though they tried).

It is not, save on fine winter days, a particularly clear light and never as sharp as that of Greece. Usually it is slightly powdery and at evening can take on a rare apricot tinge. One of its peculiarities is that the intensity seems to derive as much from the horizon as from the sun – the result no doubt of reflection from still waters. I, for one, am prepared to leave it at that and accept it as a mysterious enchantment, for mystery is the essence of poetry.”

Hugh Honour, The Companion Guide to Venice


October 2, 2015

The Venetians


"We have much to learn from the historical parade of varied characters who so reflected Venice's rise and long, long decline."
- Paul Strathern

I enjoyed this "new" history of Venice. It's not comprehensive (and it's a bit heavy on naval battles), but I liked the author's focus on Venetians who are not only the usual suspects (Marco Polo, Vivaldi, Casanova) but also those who I'd never "met" before.

I enjoyed learning about Nicolo Barbaro, a Venetian physician who was in Constantinople in 1453 during the Siege and whose diaries tell us much about that epic war. "Game of Thrones" fans will be interested to see the parallels between the Siege and the fictional Battle of the Blackwater in the second GOT book, Clash of the Kings.

Another Venetian who was new to me was Leon da Modena (1571-1648), a poet, scholar, rabbi, and compulsive gambler who lived in the Ghetto. A fascinating character!

And then there's Sofia Baffo, born into a noble Venetian family in 1550. Her father was the governor of Corfu when it was still part of the Venetian empire. In the early 1560's, she left Corfu on a boat on its way back to Venice and was kidnapped by pirates who sold her to the Sultan's son who added her to his enormous harem in Constantinople. The son eventually became Sultan, and she became "first wife" (bash kadin, chief woman of the harem), and she used her influence and power to help Venice in its seemingly constant struggles with the Turks. When her husband died, she had 18 of his 19 sons strangled so that her biological son would become the next Sultan. In 1602, she herself was strangled. Instant karma?

"The Venetians" also has the most detailed account I've read of the life and times of Caterina Cornaro, Venetian noblewoman who was briefly the Queen of Cyprus. What a sad life she had. The Venetian Republic used her badly, sad to say.

Another Venetian woman I met was Laura Querini who entered (or was forced into) the convent of San Zaccaria in 1584 when she was 15 years old. She and a friend painstakingly dug a hole in a storeroom floor in order to allow boys to sneak in for visits and romance. They were caught and it was quite a scandal!

I also met Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1838), a Jew who converted to Catholicism and became a priest (which didn't stop him from maintaining an active romantic life). He was briefly the priest of the church of San Luca but was eventually exiled from Venice because of scandal. He went to Vienna, hung out with Mozart, and ended up moving to New York City. Welcome to America!

So I recommend this book to any and all Venice lovers. It was fun to read!

October 20, 2015

Smithsonian Journeys: Venice


The Winter 2015 edition of Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly is all about Venice! I'm looking forward to reading this soon.

November 20, 2015


When you're wandering around Venice, probably lost, you sometimes find a bridge but sometimes you don't!

No worries, all you have to do is admire the view and then turn around.





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