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December 2008 Archives

December 1, 2008

Trip planning (or not)

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Thanks so much to Anne (andasamo) for sharing some wonderful photos from her October trip to Venice. Seeing those really made me psyched about my upcoming trip! And welcome home to Maria! I can't wait to hear all about her travels to Venice, Spain, and Morocco. And I think that Kathy (Trek Capri) gets home from Spain today - welcome home Kathy!

Before my trip last year, I wrote a blog post that said, “Trip planning is easy when you’re returning to a place for the fifth time.” I was tempted to just repost that and change “fifth” to “sixth.” Really, there's not much to plan when it's trip number six (and my third December trip in a row).

I bought my plane ticket and booked my room in August and then pretty much put this trip on the back burner. Once the election was over and I felt like I could breathe again, I did a bit of trip prep but not too much. Oh, and let me say that I am SO glad I bought my ticket before the big financial meltdown because I probably wouldn’t be going if I’d waited (and I’m really glad I’m going!).

I don't make any kind of day-by-day plan since I like to drift and do whatever I feel like when I wake up each morning, but one of the things I’ve done to get ready is go through all my books to compile a list of things I want to see. It’s some pretty obscure stuff, for sure. This past year, I’ve been reading old guidebooks because I discovered that they have more legends and interesting stories than modern books do.

For example, I read a centuries-old legend about a bridge in Dorsoduro called “Bridge of the Marvels”….supposedly this bridge appeared miraculously out of nowhere, built by supernatural hands or something like that. I want to find that one!

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December 4, 2008

I am here!

Excuse all typos, I have not mastered an italian keyboard...

But I'm here and it was such an easy trip over with an empty seat beside me on the plane so I could recline and relax. I didn't sleep much but still, it was so comfortable to not be crammed like sardines in the plane. And we got to Venice an hour early because of some good tail winds! Only a 7-hour flight from NYC to Venice!

Arrived to complete fog. Could not see a thing on Alilugana from the airport to Venice but when I got off the boat, I heard the bells. Soon the fog burned off and the sun came out. After I took my stuff to the Locanda, I went to San Marco and lit a candle and since then I've been walking aimlessly. Ended up going over to my old neighborhood in Santa Croce and had lunch at Vecio Fritolin. I had moeche (tiny soft shell crabs) and polenta and prosecco, and it was one of those meals that was so good that I just about swooned. Went by La Zucca and made reservations for Saturday and Tuesday nights.

I have been in three churches so far including one I'd never been in before...woo hoo!

Oh, and my room is awesome! It's enormous and get this...it has a bath tub! With bubble bath! I know what I'll be doing tonight before I crash. I'm running on fumes right now but am going to make myself stay awake until 9 pm so I can get on Venice time.

I have seen some debris from the flood but overall, Venice looks pretty good. They have been working hard to clean it up. Bruno at the Locanda told me that some businesses were really hurt, with damage to electricity, refrigerators etc, and the economic impact will be felt for quite some time as people assess the damage. Plus he told me that they have had a lot of cancellations from people who don't realize that it was only a one-day thing and the water is gone now. Maybe that is why I got that enormous room, I didn't cancel!

In JFK I overheard a conversation with a woman telling people that anyone going to Venice right now, post-flood, was crazy because she heard on NPR that it really stunk! Not true! Venice smells like it always does, like the sea.

Anyway, I'm so glad to be here! Time for another caffe...ciao!

December 5, 2008

Friday afternoon

Thanks to everyone for your comments and well wishes!

Let's see...where did I leave off? Yesterday when the sun went down, it got bitter cold. So I jumped on the vaporetto and rode up to check out the new bridge. It is so very beautiful at night with the way it is lit up, but I want to check it out in the day time too. Then since I was there and it was time, I went to Mass in the church of the Scalzi. Got back on the boat and headed to campo San Barnaba where there are about five very good restaurants and I walked around to check out all the daily menus. Ended up at La Bitta because they had potato, leek, and gorgonzola soup, perfect for a cold winter night. Cubbies, I thought of you and Fred since that is where we all had dinner last year. Wish you had been there with me!

I said that I was going to make myself stay awake until 9 pm....well, I ended up staying up to midnight! When I got back to the Locanda, I ran into a couple from the UK....this is the third year in a row we have crossed paths here in Venice! So we hung out with these two nice ladies from Ireland and talked...it's fun to talk to other Venice obsessives, and we were playing games like "What is your favorite Titian in Venice?" Oh, and they are all overjoyed about Obama, so are the Italian folks here at the locanda.

Then I took a bubble bath and crashed. Slept 8 hours straight and woke up this morning on Venice time.

The big news here at the locanda is that Barbara the owner has a 9-month old Maltese puppy named Romeo. I met him at breakfast this morning and oh my gosh, what a doll baby! Having a pet here makes this an even better place to stay!

It was raining pretty steadily this morning so I went over to Basilica di San Marco and spent about two hours in there. I have never seen Venice so quiet. I guess the combo of the flood and a global recession is the cause. But when I got to the Basilica, there were only about 20 people inside. I spent a lot of time walking around looking at the floors which I could see so well because the church was empty. I was there when they turned the lights on at 11:30 and it is always so amazing to see that place turn from gloomy to gold. Then I went to Mass and after that, the rain had turned to drizzle and I started walking. Not a good day for taking photos though.

About the pigeons, earlier this year the city banned selling bird seed in the piazza to try to get the pigeon population under control. Well it has worked. There are still pigeons around but not quite so many although I did see five of them inside the basilica! And I saw many in the park in Castello this afternoon. They all look fat and happy....even though the tourists can't feed them anymore, the Venetians are feeding them. I was walking down a calle and saw a lady throw some stale bread out her window and a flock of them descended on it!

Tonight I'm going to a free concert in the church of Santo Stefano....GOSPEL music! In Venice! The Joy Singers and the Soul Shakers band! What a hoot.

Okay, better sign off now, some other folks want to use this computer. More later and thanks again for the comments!

Friday night and Saturday

I just typed a post and then lost it in the internet ethers...argh! Let me try again....

Friday night concert:

I knew I was in for a unique experience when I walked into the church of Santo Stefano and the song playing over the loud speaker was Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." I literally laughed out loud. Santo Stefano is a big old 14th century Gothic church, and it was packed, hundreds of people, standing room only.

The Joy Singers are a choir/chorus of about twenty Venetian singers, with amazing harmonies and some soloists with very big voices, and they did some jazzed up Christmas carols, some African and Carribean spirituals, and a few pop tunes. By the end, they had all of us on our feet, dancing and singing along to songs like Go Tell It on the Mountain, When the Saints Go Marching In, and (the encore) Oh Happy Day. I never thought I'd be singing and rocking out to hip Gospel music in a church of Venice. When it was over, everyone was grinning from ear to ear, it was truly a blast.

I bought two of their CDs and they have a website (joysingers.it) so anyone coming to Venice, check their schedule and if you get the opportunity to hear them, do it! It was SO much fun!

Saturday

Spent most of the day on the island of Torcello and I'm going to save this story for when I get home and have photos. Let me just say that it was my most memorable and surprising and amazing church visit ever! And there was a wedding going on in the smaller church out there (Santa Fosca), so I have the good luck juju that comes from seeing an Italian bride...yay!

Then I went to Burano and looked for shrines....found a few and also found a cat colony with about eight cats. The adults were wary but there was a tiny orange kitten...a LuLu lookalike!....who came right up, talked to me, let me pet him/her, and then tried to climb my leg. I did not put her in my bag but I was very tempted.

Dinner at La Zucca was awesome. The place is just as great as ever. Cubbies, remember the American waiter? He no longer works there but they told me that he has opened up a health food store or something like that in Castello.

Forget what I said about Venice being quiet...there has been an influx of Italians on holiday because this is a three-day weekend for them, with Monday being a Madonna festa. So Venice is bustling tonight!

Time for bed...more later. I sure hope this posts!!! Thanks to everyone for your comments!

December 9, 2008

Tuesday morning and afternoon

I am a slack blogger...I just haven't been able to find time to do it! I've been on the go all day and then have been coming back to the B&B and crashing at night after my bubble bath. But all is well and I'm having a wonderful time. I would love to know how many miles I've walked!

I am also a slack lapsed non-Catholic. I skipped the Mass yesterday morning because when I woke up and saw blue skies, I decided to stay outside and walk and take photos instead. What a glorious day...the nicest one yet. I took the vaporetto down to Sant Elena and visited that church for the first time and then spent the rest of the day zig-zagging through Castello. I found so many amazing shrines! Some of them are very large, more like tiny chapels, very beautiful and cool.

I'm meeting so many nice people from all over the world. On Sunday, I had a Slow Trav GTG with "Just Travel" and her husband, and it was so much fun to talk to them. They are here for three months! One night at dinner, I sat next to two school teachers from Australia who are on a two-month long European holiday. This morning, I had breakfast with a very sweet young couple from Singapore, and I enjoyed talking to them. And then last night at La Zucca I met two guys from North Carolina...how freaky is that!?!

It's funny but every day since I arrived, people have stopped me to ask for directions. Once it was a British family but all the others have been lost Italians here in Venice on holiday. Too funny esp. since I have actually been able to help them figure out where they were and which direction to head. I guess I look like I know where I am going, even when I don't!

The first night at La Zucca, I was too full to order dessert so last night, I only ordered one course (the vegetarian plate) and then got dessert....chestnut mousse with chocolate sauce. Awesome....who cares if it has 100 calories per bite? I have been getting plenty of exercise! That vegetarian plate is such a great bargain....14 euro for some of the most delicious veggies I've had in my life. Love that place.

Okay, time to head out. Today I am spending the day roaming in Santa Croce and San Polo. Ciao!

Tuesday afternoon:

There is some acqua alta (flooding) in the forecast for tomorrow morning and also for Thursday night. Not as bad as last week but they tell us there might be a few inches of water here in the Bed and Breakfast. They are going to roll up the carpets and move everything on ground floor upstairs.

They have boots we can borrow so I might be sloshing out the door in the morning!

Had a very nice day today. Visited a bunch of churches including several new ones. And then revisited Santa Maria dei Miracoli and that church was filled with white flowers, lilies and roses, from the Mary festa yesterday, and I just sat there and breathed for a while. Aromatherapy!

December 10, 2008

Wednesday afternoon

I woke up to the acqua alta alarm at 5:30 AM this morning. It sounds more like chimes than sirens (so Venetian!) but it WAS loud enough to wake me up. Then I went back to sleep until 8 AM and when I got up and looked out, there was water everywhere. Not much inside the B and B but the courtyard right outside was a lake. So I put on the rubber boots and headed down to the piazza which was completely filled with water. Went into the Basilica and upstairs to the balcony to take some photos. The seagulls were floating around and it really did look like a lake! And there was quite a bit of water inside the church. By noon, the water had gone down. It will be back later tonight around 10 pm and then again tomorrow morning. The one tomorrow is supposed to be higher than the one today.

It rained off and on all day today but the wind that brought the high water was from the south, so today was the warmest day since I arrived. I wandered around for most of the day and then the wind got very strong and after the second time my umbrella turned inside out, I'd had enough and came back home and took an early bath!

Now I'm sitting in the locanda lounge, drinking a glass of wine and checking email etc. A singing gondolier just rowed by! Going to La Zucca tonight and I have tentative plans to head to Padua tomorrow to see the Giotto frescoes. I have a reservation at the Scrovegni Chapel for 2 pm and I hope that the floods won't prevent me from getting there. Should be an adventure!

Thanks to everyone for the comments!

December 11, 2008

Thursday night (Giotto!)

So it is about 11 pm and I'm sitting here in the Locanda lounge watching the water seep in through the water door as I type this. The Acqua Alta Chime Alarms went off around 7:15 tonight, and the water is rising and will peak soon. It will go back down tonight and then come back in the morning and then, the folks here tell me, we will be done with it. No high water forecast for this weekend when I have to head home, thank goodness.

The water was not as high this morning as it was yesterday, and I had no trouble getting to the train station to head to Padova, even though I had to walk through some ankle-high water in a few places. My friend Cristiano went with me, and we had such a nice day even though it rained all day long, very hard at times, and I ended up looking and feeling like a drowned rat by the time we got back to Venice late this afternoon. Seriously, I feel mildewed!

The Scrovegni Chapel was quite an experience. What an ordeal to visit that place. You have to book your ticket at least 24 hours in advance for an exact time, and you must arrive an hour before your reservation. There are all these funky air lock things you walk through to get to the chapel and then you have to sit in this decontamination chamber thingy for 15 minutes before they let you in (they show a film about the history of the chapel while you are getting aerated or whatever). They only let 25 people in at a time, and they only let you stay for 15 minutes.

But the Chapel is truly one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, right up there with the Sistine Chapel. The Giotto frescoes are absolutely gorgeous and mindblowing. SandraC, i have to borrow your great word....I was gobsmacked. Truly worth all the effort! And even better, there were only two other people in there with Cristiano and me during our 15 minutes, and that was wonderful because it is such a small place. After we left, we had lunch and spent another couple of hours walking around the historic center of Padova. A nice city. I wouldn't mind spending more time there.

So tonight after dinner, I was walking home from dinner in Cannaregio, and this journalist from Rome carrying all this video equipment stopped me and said, Which way is San Marco? I told him I was going that way so we walked together. He had come to film the high water. The piazza was completely filled and that was about an hour ago.

Various and sundry....

Maria, while looking for something else, I stumbled across the icon shop you told me about. What a beautiful place! I'm going back tomorrow...there were several things there that I want to buy.

Kathy, I popped into Bar di Gino a couple of days ago and met the Cafe Girls. You are so right, that is a great place and those folks are so nice! I had a spritz and some chips and rested my feet for a while. Wonderful bar.

Shannon, I had dinner in Osteria al Garanghelo the other night and really enjoyed talking to the nice couple who own it. Annalisa very proudly told me, "We are in Chow Venice and in Fodors." (!) And Renato showed me his scrapbook with all these postcards from customers from all over the world, so when I get home I'm going to send him one from NC. Great place.

Girasoli, I know you are a tower person and I forgot to tell you that the Torcello tower was closed for restoration. I wanted to climb it again, oh well. I hope that it will be open again next time you come to Venice.

This is without a doubt the worst weather I have ever experienced in Venice, but hey....it's still Venice and I'm having a great time! Thanks for all the comments everyone!

December 12, 2008

Friday night

A little break in the weather today. Still some flooding this morning but only some drizzle for most of the day which I spent in Cannaregio, visiting churches, finding shrines, and occasionally walking through some high water. I hate to complain but this is the third day wearing these stupid rubber boots and while I'm so glad to have them, they are NOT comfortable and my feet are taking a toll, complete with some ankle blisters that are quite annoying. I am ready to switch back to my comfy hiking sneakers, for sure.

As I was wandering around today, I kept seeing all this flood debris...abandoned wet shoes and destroyed mangled umbrellas. I have a feeling that it was tourists, not Venetians, who left this stuff lying about. My umbrella finally bit the dust too but I did find a trash can to put it in.

I had lunch at Anice Stellato, close to the church of Sant Alvise, and it's a very nice place to eat. The guys I met from NC raved about it and I'm glad I stumbled across it. Funniest experience of the day...I have been going into every sotoportego I've seen, since there are often shrines inside, and today I found a most unusual thing inside one of them...a self-service condom vending machine. At first, I thought it was a cigarette machine but when I looked more closely and realized what it was selling, I cracked up! I have a photo that I'll post when I get home!

Speaking of photos, I went down to Piazza San Marco last night after midnight when the water was very high, and I think I got some good photos of the Xmas lights reflected in the lake-piazza. I can't wait to get home and check out my pics, though I don't think they will be quite as good as last year when I had so many more sunny blue sky days.

Gigi, who works here at the Locanda, is a photographer, and he showed me some of his photos from the Dolomites which used to be part of the Venetian Republic. He is a hiker and spelunker, and he told me that in the caves up there in the mountains, they sometimes find these ancient marble reliefs that show the Lion of San Marco. His photos of the ones he has found were very cool!

Tonight I met an American woman from Minnesota, who is teaching school in Kuwait and is in Venice on holiday. She told me that there were some big time Obama election night celebrations in Kuwait too!!

Alas, the evening of Tango at the Xmas market got rained out tonight. I did go down there and drink some Vin Brule and slosh around for a while. The market has booths from almost every region of Italy, and they were all giving out samples of meats and cheeses, so I walked around with my hot spiced wine and tried some of the cheese. The winner was the booth from Sardinia which had this pecorino that was just amazing.

So this is it for me... heading home tomorrow. I have such mixed emotions. Sad to leave ( and there are so many things I didn't see or do, simply ran out of time and stamina). But on the other hand, I can't wait to see my cats and start getting ready for Xmas! So anyway, I probably won't post again until I am home (but I have lots more stories...and photos to come).

December 14, 2008

I'm home!

About five minutes after my 7 AM wake-up call yesterday morning, the acqua alta chimes went off AGAIN for the fourth day in a row. But I was able to pull my suitcase to the boat without getting it or my feet wet. A long 20-hour day of travel to get home, but I can't complain since once again, the travel gods blessed me with a not-full plane and this time, I had the middle row of three seats all to myself. The nine-plus hours from Venice to JFK went by so fast since I could lie down and read and doze. I agree with Girasoli, it's almost as good as getting bumped up to first class.

Brunetti%27s%20Venice.jpgI bought several new books that I read on the plane...one is a just published book about the churches of Venice, in Italian but with nice color photos. I hope they'll translate it into English at some point. I also read a book about Giotto that I bought at the Scrovegni Chapel, and my best find was "Brunetti's Venice", a book of walking tours connected to the Donna Leon series. It hasn't been published in the US yet but I found a UK version in a bookstore in Venice. It's quite good!

The December issue of Conde Nast Traveler has a nice article about Venice written by John Julius Norwich (author of the very long and definitive "A History of Venice" and the great "Paradise of Cities"). I agree with many of his recommendations about the best art to see and churches to visit...it's a good read. He says that he's been to Venice over 200 times and he continues to discover new corners and see things he's never seen before. I believe it. The Great Shrine Hunt took me to so many new places this trip, many quiet and lovely courtyards, so beautiful. And I had pretty good success with churches...I found seven new ones open to add to my visited list. I also found a bunch closed up tight but that's par for the course.

I did have to laugh at the cover of that magazine though. It's in Piazza San Marco with this very glamorous couple in evening clothes standing there. They look very chic and the piazza is completely dry. I think they should have put ME on the cover, standing in the piazza in a foot of water, all wet and bedraggled with frizzy hair and an inside-out umbrella and those horrible boots on.

Continue reading "I'm home!" »

December 16, 2008

Acqua Alta

The acqua alta that I experienced last week was nothing compared to the major flood that happened on December 1, which was one of the worst in Venice's history. What I experienced was fairly typical for winter, I was told, although it was a bit unusual for it to happen so many days in a row. Flooding in Venice is connected to the tides (and the moon and the winds) and it's not like a bunch of water pours into Venice and just sits there for days at a time, it rises and falls with the tides.

So even though the water was not that high, boots were essential. I noticed that only the people without boots used the high-rise sidewalks and the Venetians (and others) wearing boots would just plow on through the water. So that's what I did too, although there were a couple of times when I came to a place where I couldn't tell how deep the water was. I thought about what Girasoli said about how it would be easy to walk off a fondamenta into a canal (!) and I'd turn around and find another route. Most of the time, I could tell how high it was (and usually it only came up to my ankles) although a few times, it got dangerously close to the top of the boots! If I hadn't had the boots, I would have been very limited as to where I could go (the high rise walkways are set up for the major sites and also for the vaporetto stations, but they are not all over the city).

An early morning scene of Piazza San Marco. This water was gone by noon and then came back later that night.

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This one was taken from inside the Basilica. I was standing on a riser in the atrium, and you can see how much water was inside the church. It's such an eerie feeling to look down on those ancient floors and see them underwater. The people with umbrellas outside were walking on the high-rise sidewalks.

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This one was taken from the vaporetto and you can see how the Grand Canal has overflowed into the Rialto Market area on the right.

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Sloshing along a calle. You have to kinda shuffle a bit so that you don't splash your neighbors or yourself!

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December 22, 2008

Views from the San Marco balcony

Something about these photos makes me think of "March of the Penquins." :)

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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!" »

December 31, 2008

Acqua Alta at night

It was a little scary walking around a flooded city at night because you really couldn't tell how high the water was in the dark. But there was one route down to the Piazza that was less flooded than some of the other calli, so I went down one night after midnight so I could take some photos of the Christmas lights in the Piazza. I was surprised to see how many other tourists were there with the same idea. Some people had their tripods set up on the high-rise walkways, and a group of exuberant Japanese tourists were splashing around in their boots.

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January 5, 2009

Fog and Sun

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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 12, 2009

Well (like a basket)

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One of the things on my "want to see" list was this unique 15th century well-head that's carved to look like a basket. I'd read about it in a couple of books, and it was funny because it was very close to the B&B where I've stayed three times but was in a dead-end corte that I'd never visited. It's so very cool-looking and is a perfect example of one of the things I love about Italy...anything can be art and even utilitarian objects can be beautiful. By contrast, the well in my yard here in NC is less than inspiring. :)

You can find this one in Corte Gregolina in San Marco.

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February 10, 2009

Scrovegni Chapel (my ticket)

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I've got so much to say about my visit to the Scrovegni Chapel (Cappella degli Scrovegni) in Padua (Padova) that I'm going to spread it out over several posts. But I thought I'd start with my ticket (scanned in above) and explain some of the logistics of getting this thing.

Does anyone else save their tickets? I have tons of them...concert tickets from back in high school, Tar Heel basketball games across the decades, and of course, many from Italy. As far as pack-rat-itis goes, they aren't a bad thing to save since they don't take up much room. And the Italian ones are often very beautiful; I have a few of those on my fridge. I might scan some more of them in soon.

Anyway, the scene on the ticket is a detail from Giotto's Last Judgment showing Enrico Scrovegni presenting the chapel he built to the Virgin. Here's a larger view of the scene (which is just a small detail of the large Last Judgment fresco that covers the entire west wall of the chapel.

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February 11, 2009

Giotto's frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel

Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbour.
~Giotto di Bondone

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My visit to the Scrovegni Chapel was a highlight of my recent trip but truly, it was more than that…it was one of the all-time great art experiences I’ve ever had. The chapel and the Giotto frescoes just blew me away.

Giotto lived from 1266-1337 and painted these frescoes in 1303-5. Before Giotto, most devotional art was pretty static - icons of the Madonna or the saints that were more like portraits than narratives. Giotto was the first great artist to paint the stories.

Sometimes I think that the so-called “Greatest Story Ever Told” has been told (and painted) for so long and in so many ways, it’s become too familiar and often feels very worn out. At times I find myself in churches looking at paintings and feeling like, “Ho hum, another nativity, another crucifixion.” The thing that really blew me away about Giotto is that he made the story completely fresh for me which, considering that his frescoes are 700 years old, is so amazing and truly genius.

In the chapel, there are three bands of images. The top row shows scenes from the life of the Virgin and the bottom two rows are scenes from the life of Christ. The chancel shows the Annunciation, and the Last Judgment is on the opposite west wall. You can see these frescoes very well because the chapel is so small, and there’s all this cool and colorful architectural detail painted in between the scenes with some impressive illusionistic work and painted marble. Around the bottom, there are these funky little images of the Virtues and Vices painted in monochrome, and the vault is frescoed in sky blue with stars.

Continue reading "Giotto's frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel " »

February 13, 2009

PhotoHunt: Nautical

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This week's theme is "nautical."

Not the easiest theme in the world this week. I don't have any photos of sailors! But luckily I had this nautical relief that I saw on the island of Torcello in the Venetian lagoon.

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

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy PhotoHunting!


February 16, 2009

A few photos from Padua

I didn't take a lot of photos that day because it was pouring rain most of the time but here are a few:

This is the Duomo and the Baptistry. We had a great lunch in this piazza at a place called Il Gancino. I haven't finished my Slow Travel reviews yet (and probably won't until next month) but I plan to review Il Gancino because it was a great little cafe.

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This tower on the Palazzo del Capitanio reminded me that Padua was once part of the Venetian empire. The winged lion of San Marco is there and even the clock face looks similar to the one in Piazza San Marco, with bronze astrological symbols in a circle.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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June 19, 2009

PhotoHunt: Creamy

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This week's theme is "Creamy."

A couple of photos I took in Venice last year. First up is a booth at the Christmas market in campo Santo Stefano. I took this photo because of the marzipan fruit but there are some cream horns behind them.

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A cream-colored statue of the Madonna inside a little street shrine.

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Thanks for visiting and Happy Summer Solstice!

July 24, 2009

PhotoHunt: Utensils

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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" »

November 21, 2009

A Magical Encounter

Torcello

The more I blog about Torcello, the more I think of to say (and I’ve got photos galore) so this may keep going for a while. But I’m going to jump ahead to the best part – what happened in the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (my best church visit ever).

The Torcello cathedral celebrated "il millennio” (its thousandth anniversary) last year – it’s the oldest monumental building in the lagoon and is such a gorgeous place with everything I love about Venetian sacred architecture….lots of old glowing marble, a magical Madonna mosaic on the golden apse, multi-coloured mosaic floors, an ancient wooden ceiling, fresco fragments here and there, and Byzantine carvings with peacocks and flowers and twining grape vines.

So I was already blissed out just strolling around the cathedral when I looked over and saw two of the Torcello cats walk in the church, one a lovely long-haired fluffy cat and the other a cute short-haired tabby. They went over and climbed up onto the pews (it was a very cold day and I figure they wanted to get off those cold marble floors).

Continue reading "A Magical Encounter" »

August 10, 2012

PhotoHunt: Planes

An airplane wing and sunrise over the mountains. I'd crossed the ocean and was almost in Venice!

If you click to see the photo larger, you can see a lake nestled in the valley. It looks so small but I bet it's not.

Alps


Thanks for visiting and have a good weekend.

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

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Churches in Venice in the December 2008 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

December 2007 is the previous category.

November 2010 is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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