Saturday-Sunday, January 2-3, 2016
Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to Spring – Prague and Budapest, or Venice and the Veneto – join us!
Well not every day of the year can be as exquisite as the first one was yesterday…and Saturday the 2nd was rainy and gray, the kind of day that would be best to just stay inside by a cozy fire. But with only 2 days left in Venice, we venture out, hooded and umbrella-ed, for a bit of exploration nearby, frequently darting inside for a snack or a meal. We’ve never taken time to see the original Ghetto before…where that name was first used in the 1500s for the island on which the Jews of Venice were isolated. The rain was so heavy it was tough to get any photos – so here’s our lone example, a door with Hebrew lettering, and a mezuza slot on the doorpost.
The rain finally lessened after dark, and we enjoyed a bit of window-shopping – intriguing antiques and objets d’art here, and fantastical wigs for upcoming Carnevale there. Sunday dawned sunny and beautiful again, and we took a roundabout way, walking along canals where we haven’t been before, such as this one with FIVE bridges visible at one intersection, to the Dorsoduro sestiere. Venice is divided into six neighborhoods, called sestiere, and Dorsoduro, literally “hard back” – the backbone of Venice along the Giudeca Canal – has always been a favorite of ours.
Looks like we’re not the only ones who like this neighborhood – there’s a traffic jam on that little bridge!And this harlequin seems to say “welcome to my shop!”Stopping to peer into artisans’ windows, some crafting paper, others silk scarves, others forcolas, the handsome wooden fulcrum for a gondola oar, we take in the open-air museum of Venice. Across the San Trovaso canal is one of the few squeros, gondola workshops, left in the city. See the gondoliers hats hung on the wall? Satisfied customers, no doubt!
And on this side Bar Il Squero has just what we’ve been wanting – a mouthwatering selection of cicchetti, snacks, just waiting to be nibbled with a glass of prosecco! In Budapest, we fit in a café stop every afternoon, with decadent pastries and coffee. Here in Venice, we go for cicchetti each afternoon or early evening…delicious bites (such as gorgonzola spread topped with walnuts or artichokes) with a glass of bubbly. LOVE this tradition!
We’ve made it to the Accademia bridge, an ideal perch for views towards San Marco, or, on the other side, the Grande Curva of the Grand Canal, the most coveted palazzo real estate, we’ve been told.
A late lunch at always delicious Taverna San Trovaso – a Venice institution where the food is still great, the service friendly and knowledgeable, and the prices quite reasonable, even though it’s made it into all the guidebooks.
Then our wander continues, along the Grand Canal, over to the Giudeca side of the neighborhood for a sunset view,and the long way back to our apartment, to catch a view of the prettiest holiday decor in town, by San Barnaba.Venice – you’re a delight in every season!
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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
Our tour days begin with breakfast in the lovely courtyard of Al Ponte Mocenigo. There is so much to appreciate about this property – walls covered with exquisite silk in the spacious bedrooms, an abundant buffet breakfast with homemade pastries and jams, smiling and helpful staff, an excellent location- no wonder everyone raves about it!
Whenever possible, we appreciate getting “above it all” to see our surroundings – it’s a great way to get a perspective on a city or area. The best spot to do so in Venice is from the belltower of San Giorgio Maggiore, across the basin from Piazza San Marco. So we’re on our way, chugging down the Grand Canal on the morning bus. The gondolas are already booked, cruising and singing on their way.
We walk back onto an island at the San Zaccaria stop, and before boarding another vaporetto (the buses of Venice, so named because they were originally powered by steam – vapore) walk through a passage under buildings lining the broad Fondamenta. We’ve got time to go through centuries of history in one little church, San Zaccaria. On the left, as we enter, is one of Bellini’s best, a jewel-toned Conversazione Sacra (Sacred Conversation), Mary and chosen saints chatting, with musical accompaniment by the sweetest angels and their stringed instruments. This masterpiece was completed in 1505, when Bellini was 75 – a super long life at that time!
Tucked away in chapels behind the main church are centuries of treasures…traces of mosaic floors from the original structure, begun in the 7th century, a Tiepolo or two, and the first trace of the Renaissance in Venice in the vaults above a fabulously ornate Gothic altarpiece. The Tuscan artist Andrea del Castagno painted the lifelike figures in 1442, actually BEFORE the gilded structure, a prime example of spiky Gothic below, was built.
Down a few rickety steps is yet more of the ancient church, with several tombs of Doges and a simple altar posed on the shimmery floor, as usual, covered with a few inches of water…we walk on a raised brick path across the room.
Then we’re on our way to San Giorgio Maggiore, a tiny island with a majestic Palladian church, and the perch we’ve anticipated. From the belltower (we advise descending before the bells strike on the hour!) the view’s the best – Saint Marks across the water,
the Grand Canal and the Giudecca Canal spilling out into the Basino (when on the water, you can always tell when you hit the Basino – it’s rougher than the canals), with the exclamation point of the Dogana in between.
Next stop, the Zattere, the broad waterside path where the Dorsoduro Sestiere (one of Venice’s six neighborhoods) meets the Giudeca Canal.
A waterside lunch awaits us at La Piscina, where the view is as delicious as the food.
We stroll through the Dorsoduro neighborhood on our way back to the hotel, pointing out galleries, intriguing shops, and one of the few Squeros, Gondola workshops, left on the islands.
Interpreti Veneziani completes our day, with melodies of hometown boy Vivaldi high on the program.
In the elegant church of San Vidal, we’re surrounded with the beauty of this talented ensemble along with graceful sculptures and an impressive Carpaccio of San Vidal himself.
Buona Notte, Venezia…