I’ve decided I like Tumblr better. So I’ve moved all the posts and will be updating at this site:
This was my last full day in Venice. The day started out beautifully. We returned to Venice. We spotted that the fish market at the Rialto was still going on. When we entered, we found stacks and heaps of fresh fruits and vegetables. Walking on through, we found an enormous amount of fresh seafood. Octopi, cuttlefish, sardines, and live eels! No wonder the seafood is so good. We bought some strawberries, and they were the best I think I’ve ever had. Perfectly ripe and juicy, eating them turned my fingernail tips pink.
We then went over to the Campo San Rocco, going to the Sculoa Grande of San Rocco, best known for having every single surface (with a few notable exceptions) covered by Tintoretto paintings. It is also filled with sculpture and incredibly breathtaking. I’m not going to even try and describe this. Do a google image search for “Sculoa Grande of San Rocco.” Try to imagine standing underneath it, being surrounded by Tintorettos and detailed, beautiful sculptures and flooring. It’s unbelievable. They also had a brilliant idea for viewing the ceiling paintings–they had 1×2′ (roughly) mirrors that allowed you to view the ceiling canvasses without wandering around craning your neck.
We then went into a nearby church which was also just amazing, the Sesiter de S. Polo. I loved it. Italian churches in Venice are laregly a mix of Renassiance/Old Masters paintings and Baroque art.
We ate dinner at a restaurant that we found while exploring the Rialto. Kate and I split a big plate of appetizers. I deviated from my seafood pattern to order a suckling pig leg stuffed with corn and other good things. The skin was still on. This was one of my favorite dishes! It was incredibly good. I did not enjoy the quiche that came with it as much, but the pig was absolutely fantastic.
We then headed back to Treviso, after taking a partial nighttime vaporetti ride around the city.
DaLet’s just get one declaration out of the way right now. I loved both San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. The guidebooks I read before then are those that try to get you away from touristy places into the “real” wherever. In this case, I think they are wrong to dissuade people from visiting these places. (Snide comments about “first-timers to Venice” didn’t go down well. Personally, I will go back every time–probably more than once for each trip! I did, however, appreciate the tip to not have a coffee there.
We finally went on the tour of the Doge’s Palace, taking the “Secret Itineraries” tour. I almost didn’t suggest it, because the name is so melodramatic, but it takes you into parts of the palace that are only available through this tour. For example, Casanova’s cell! Both of them–the one where he failed to escape, and the one that he DID escape from. It was also great to be running around in such a building. The public areas are absolutely amazing, as well.
Following that, we went through San Marco. I suggest going upstairs to the Museum, because you get to go out onto the balcony where the replacement horses are. (You also get to see the real horses. With the current wave of repatriations going on, I wonder if Turkey will ask for them back?)
On the way back, we passed what had to be the most unintentionally meta thing I have ever seen. It is a large souvenir store selling the typical mix of masks, glass ktochskies, and t-shirts but is called “Veniceland.” It also has a terrifyingly large, fake plastic Casanova. It really drove home exactly how much of the current Venetian city is driven by tourism. (However, I did meet a Venetian who does not work in the tourism industry. It was encouraging.)
We wound up back at the Piazza, as we hadn’t been able to go to the Museo Correr and the National Archaeological Museum. If you truly want a cup of coffee in the Piazza, go to the little cafe in the Museo Correr. It is quite reasonably priced, and you can angle for a seat by one of the tiny windows overlooking the square.
We had the only mediocore dinner of the trip. I had spaghetti with clams, which was good, but not great.
Then we headed up to Treviso, where I had to switch to for the work part of the trip. We grabbed some awful pastries, not knowing that, including one secretly laced with grappa. (Once we got to the hotel, we bit into it and that was that. No more pastries.) The train system was quite easy to figure out, and Treviso is only about 30-40 minutes out of Venice.
* I’m writing these on the plane back, and watching “Quantam of Solace”. Why is Bond’s mysterious ex-love named Vespa? Is she a scooter? It’s not bad,
My apologies for the lack of blog posts! It turns out that ScribeFire, like every other blog editor I have tried, is very poorly done. I will have to do some make-up comments. It’s too bad.
So. This about everything after the first day!
We discovered upon arriving at the Doge’s Palace that the airport staff had not been very clear about how the the Venice Connected pass works. For the record, you pick everything BUT that up at the airport. The museum pass is picked up at the ticket gate of the Doge’s Palace. So we decided that we would do San Marco and the Palace the next day, going to Murano instead.
We saw some proecessions and madrigals going on in the square. I couldn’t figure out if they’re paid by the city, or if it’s just a really elaborate form of street performance. (However, I never saw any of the performers taking any
I have to be honest. I was a little disappointed in Murano–everything was somewhat tacky and derivative, almost an extension of some of the worst souvenier shops in Venice itself. According to a friend of mine, if you look like you have money, you can see some amazing pieces. It’s too bad that they’ve chosen to hide whatever art is actually being produced, as it makes the island feel like a tourist trap. (It is my personal theory that most of the glass on the island is not made there, despite all the signs about Chinese-made glass killing Murano. Either that, or the artists just make the same thing over and over and over again. This photo is of the Bridge of Sighs and the building next to it.)
Kate and I visited the main church on the island, the Basilica del Santi Maria e Donato, which is known for its 12th century Byzantine style mosaics. Unfortunately most of them were being restored, but the apse mosaic was stunning. Venice and the surrounding area are probably the most proactive place i’ve seen in terms of historic preservation. (However, they do have the most distressing tendency to cover the scaffolding with the largest ads you’ll ever see.)
When we had lunch, I tried a “caffe correcto.” It is coffee that has been corrected by adding grappa, a local licquer. I must say that I do not like grappa very much at all. It tastes the way I imagine nail polish remover does.
Upon returning, we decided to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia. We took a tragehetto to get across the river, which is a beat-up retired gondola driven by crabby retired golondiers. According to the guidebook, it is how locals get around, but I never saw anyone other than tourists use them. It is a little terrifying to be in a tippy, beat-up boat when one of the vaporetti come your way.
We then walked over to the Campo Santa Margarita, which was nearby. However, the weather was pretty awful (light rain on and off all day), so it was not incredibly active. We had wine and chichietti (little appetizer platters) for diner, including a seafood salad and different kinds of sliced meats. We wound up at a cafe back at the Rialto, and had some good but unexciting tiramsu while people watching at the bridge.
My favorite photos from the day are these:
Next post, new day! Hopefully ScribeFire will post these in a timely manner instead of randomly waiting 3 days to do so.
I understand this title now. There is something incredibly relaxing about Venice. My stress levels have dropped to almost nothing. It’s amazing. There is a limited wireless network in the hotel, but it is probably enormously expensive. This is going to be posted whenever I have a chance; for the record, the actual time and date is 4/18/2009, time is 11:35 pm.
The flight was nice. Final comment from the flight, doing the descent over the alps: Holy shit, no wonder the Romans thought Hannibal couldn’t get elephants over.
Today Kate and I just roamed around Venice. We arrived around 10 am, picked up our passes, hopped on the bus, and then were in the autobus drop off point in about half an hour! We picked up the Vaporetto no. 1. Vaporetto are by far the coolest form of public transportation I’ve ever seen. It lazily wound through the Grand Canal, which is an amazing way to get a first look at the city itself. The weather was also absolutely goregous. After getting part of the grand tour, it left us within one block of our hotel. The room wasn’t ready yet, so we left our luggage with the front desk and went back outside.
We wandered around for several hours, going over the Rialto Bridge and eventually winding up in Piazza San Marco. The cathedral there is one of the craziest buildings I’ve ever seen, but it WORKS in the most extraordinary way. Unfortunately there was a lot of construction going on, which impaired our ability to perceive the full piazza.
Eventually we went back to the hotel, and officially checked in. The hotel owner gave us some tips for dinner, and then we rested for a bit. We wound up eating at a Venetian restaurant that specialized–like most Venetian restaurants–in seafood. I had a prawn salad and cuttlefish with polenta in black sauce for dinner. Kate had a fried seafood platter. We split a liter of house wine between us, and made friends with the owner, Lucky Luciano and Gino, his friend.
After dinner we had this idea from one of the guidebooks to ride the Vaporetto to San Marco’s and back, but we couldn’t figure out which one to go on. We’ll try again tomorrow night, but we did have some tasty gelato along the way.
My impression of Venice so far is that it is the only place I have ever been where fantasy and reality co-exist at the same time. The architecture and setup of the city are fantastical, but the people here are so real. (At least the people from here. I have never seen so many tourists in one place at once! I can’t even imagine what this is like at the height of tourist season.) Tomorrow we are starting off at the Ducal Palace and San Marco, trying to do the Secret Itinerary tour. We can then go through San Marco, which I’m quite looking forward to.
Anyway. I hope you’ll read this soon. Hope you’re well!
I’m somewhere over the Atlantic.
James was a sweetie and went along on the subway ride to the airport. For those of you not in New York, you may not appreciate this, but it’s a Long Ride, even from my apartment in Brooklyn. I wish he could come along, but it just didn’t work out this time. Hopefully next trip.
Kate and I met up without too many problems. I’m enjoying–believe it or not, Beloiters–a Leinenkugel’s Sunset Wheat. Very appropriate, as Kate and I consumed huge amounts of this stuff in college. And now I’m going to watch the Doctor Who Easter Special. I’ll check back in after.
Good Doctor Who–can’t wait to find out about what happened to New New York! I’m going to watch the Tudors and then go to sleep. The plot turns on Hans Holbein! For his lewdness, immorality, and violence against a lord. Fun fun.
All joking aside, I’m very excited. Having studied Europe for most of my adult life, it hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m going to be there in a few hours. I’ve never actually been. (I don’t count Ireland and the UK, as it is its own brand of history that is in my opinion different from mainland Europe in its current perception.)
Venice, while Kate and I have always talked about going there “some day”, is an unusual first choice. In many ways, I think it relates to how interests grow and change. I will be going to one of the hubs of East/West relations in Europe. Given what I am doing now, this seems an appropriate first step. (I’ve jokingly described myself as Marco Polo in China to colleagues, but I have really loved being in the Asian Art department and learning more about that area of the world. I’m sure that if Marco Polo actually made it to China, he enjoyed it even more.)
One of my friends from Fordham calls Italy “Disneyland for Americans.” I disagree. For a culture where 50 years represents a huge expanse of time*, Italy represents an amazing swathe of history. One of my colleagues described the approach to Venice by train as the “approach of the end of the world.” No, I disagree–Venice is an opening of doors and of minds that laid shut for hundreds of years. Even if it is touristy now, I don’t care. The understanding is real and present. To BE there, in the same space as Doges, Napoleon, Casanova, Byron and countless others-this is what we come for. (If I wanted overpriced coffee, I’m sure I could find that in New York.)
Soon I will see the Mediterranean. I can’t wait.
* “We have restored this building to the way it looked 50 years ago!”
It is dark over Alaska, which I guess is no big surprise, seeing as it’s the time of year when the sun almost never rises here. (It is also midnight, this time, 3:00 am, NYC time, and 5pm JST.) Most people on the plane are asleep. I just looked out the window, and it is one of the most amazing views I have ever had. We are so far up, and so near the top of the Earth, that I can see the curvature of the Earth’s surface. Above the gently curving surface, which is very faintly illuminated, hang the stars. I can make out the Big Dipper, and lots of other little stars that I can’t tell are what. Beautiful.