A Surprise in Venice

A Surprise in Venice

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 
Venice, Italy

What’s on the itinerary this morning? A surprise for our guests, courtesy of Stephen, who proposed the initial idea for this music-filled tour as well… and  here’s part one: classical guitarist Mak Grgic, who flew in late last night and has offered to play for us while he’s here in Venice. 

Kirk’s become a regular at a nearby coffee bar, and stops by with Mak  – with just a few hours of sleep, he’s happy to get a shot of good Italian coffee.

Through a labyrinth of narrow paths, little campos,canal-side lanes,

and finally a private garden,
Kirk leads us to surprise part two, the site of this morning’s private concert, exquisite Ca’ Lezze, an historic palazzo right on the Grand Canal,
where gracious Marie welcomes us warmly to her home.

Surrounded by the beauty of centuries past, Mak, who played earlier in May at the National Gallery of Art at Stephen’s invitation, enthralls us all with one beautiful piece after another
From his own arrangement of Rodgrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, to Bach, Granados, and Albeniz, Mak’s artistry surrounds us in the intimate salon…. unforgettable!


Cin- cin – a toast to Mak for his beautiful music!

Marie recounts the history of this canal- side palace, built in the 1700s, and takes us through the rooms – what a rare and precious opportunity! Her daughter is a London- based set designer, and this exotic sitting room is one of her creations.

Marie’s desire for her bedroom? I want to wake up in a garden …. so now she does!

The interior’s remarkable… a worthy match for the Grand Canal view from the balconies. I could sit here all day, watching the vaporettos and gondolas navigate the La Volta (the big curve – THE place to be on the Grand Canal, we’ve heard).

You will stay for lunch, no?
How could we resist?! Marie lived for years in Genoa, and serves an authentic Genoese pasta, trofie (chewy twists of pasta) al pesto, tossed with bites of potato and green beans – delizioso!
We tear ourselves away from Marie’s  – Venice awaits us outside!

And  soon are crossing the water to San Giorgio Maggiore,
just in time to ascend the bell tower

for one of the great views of La Serenissima….

across the basin to Piazza San Marco, the Doge’s Palace rosy along the water, the basilica’s domes beyond.

A bit of time to relax in the hotel, then we’re off again, getting our guests settled in a gondola for a tour and ride to the final concert of the day.

Kirk and I walk to Palazzetto Bru Zane, the Center for French Romantic Music, and await the group at the water gate – come on in!

After a tour of the beautifully restored little palace, we complete this wonderful day with the music of a little- known French composer, Theodore Gouvy, performed by Paris- based Quatour Cambini.

The Thrill of Venice

The Thrill of Venice

Monday, May 20, 2013 
Venice, Italy

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium

That first sight of the Grand Canal as we exit the Venice train station never ceases to send a shiver of excitement down my spine – there’s no arrival in the world like this one! The water glistens a welcome under the morning sun, almost too bright to look at.
Our guests arrive tomorrow so today will be full of canal honey-dos to take care of. We ride the vaporetto number 1 down the Grand Canal, drop our luggage at the hotel, and set out along the water to do our errands. We’re in search of a gondolier who can include the Palazetto Bru Zane in his route, and we find a helpful boatman on Rio Manin and make an appointment for an evening tour – details in an upcoming blog.
I’m sure you’ve read, as we have, of the diminishing population of Venice… the city’s just too expensive for people to live in, with big corporations or wealthy foreigners buying up the palazzos and apartments, and most who work here live in Mestre or further inland, riding the train or a bus, then a boat, to get to work each day. So it’s always a pleasure to walk by one little campo (small piazza) after another, or glance down a watery lane, and see obvious clues that people DO live here. We’ve been on the water bus with students on their way to school, watched young and old trundle their groceries over the bridges, balanced with the locals on the traghettos (gondola-like craft that cross the Grand Canal in between the few bridges), or stopped at a bar for a quick morning coffee with businessmen walking to work. This often- ethereal floating city is still lived- in and alive.
Always on the look-out for another good eatery to add to our Venice list, we try Osteria Al Ponte, also known as La Patatina, for lunch – and on the list it goes!  A delicious lunch (creamy baccala – cod, with grilled polenta) in a rustic setting in the San Polo district, it’d make a good stop before or after a visit to the nearby Frari church.
Crossing the canal, we’re close to the water in a sturdy traghetto, threading among gondolas and water buses as we traverse Venice’s main street.
Our hotel room’s now ready, and what a pleasure to open the shutters to a view of one of our favorite Venice churches, San Zaccaria, as its bells ring an afternoon welcome. We settle in,then enjoy a wander as dusk falls,

past a gondola traffic jam, across a bridge or two or three, smiling with the pleasure of being here again.