Just walk. It's a fancinating...
Just walk. It's a fancinating city that time has forgot. As you explore you see it as it was (except for the shops). On my first visit coming out of the train station and the view of the Grand Canal and the bosts plying its waters. It was my first visit to Europe and a memory that will stay with me forever.
International Pilfering Crisis
Every strong or conquering nation on the globe probably still shows proofs of its past pilfering in its public edifices and ornamentation. Take Rome for example. Fifteen obelisks nicked from Egypt. Not bad. The Venetians, once masters of the Mediterranean, were nowise immune from such permanent loans. The remains of St Mark the Apostle were stolen from Alexandria in a barrel of pork. The four horses that once emblazoned the Byzantine Hippodrome have been copied for the public to gaze upon atop San Marco, the true copies spirited away to the basement. Indeed, Venice has taken much that once belonged to Constantinople. Note the four Roman emperors in the famous "Tetrarch" on the corner of St Mark's. See how they almost cower in fear and unfamiliarity in their new surroundings.
Masterly Veneziano artists
As I already described in my intro about La Serenissima, I always thought I don’t like to look at paintings. Well, in Venezia I found out that I simply don’t like to see paintings in museums (and be surrounded by these blabbering self-appointed art lovers making ridiculous comments about this or that paint brush). And that it was just too long of a time that I haven’t been in Italy with the most famous art collection of the world – but still there where they have been made for (well, mostly).
Yes, and this was what I finally realised: museums only collect pieces of art, and no matter what they do, they can never ever create an environment suitable for these masterpieces. They just hang them on a wall and this completely destroys the idea why a painting has been made. Ok, yes, Van Goghs and Monets and all these others have been actually made to be hung on walls. But with the old Italian artists this is different. They created masterpieces for churches, palazzi, houses – filling whole walls or ceilings. They have been painted to complete a church or to demonstrate power and wealth in palazzi. Like Da Vinci’s Last Supper – I once saw a reproduction in a museum, it didn’t impress me much – but if I would see it in reality, in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milano, it would knock me off my feet.
So this is maybe why I was so much fascinated in La Serenissima – so many of these masterpieces are where they belong to, where they have been made for, and only where they can complete a building :-). The list of painters, which have been active in Venezia is long. And already earlier, Venezia had many artists specialised in painting icons and making mosaics (the Byzantine influence).
Jacopo Bellini can maybe considered to be the father of Veneziano paintings, in both senses: he was among the first to start painting “western style” (as opposed to icons or Byzantine style), and his sons Gentile and Giovanni (Giambellino) followed in his footsteps. Unfortunately, Giambellino’s masterpieces he made in Palazzo Ducale are gone forever with the fire in 1577. But a lot of his other work can be marvelled at in L’Accademia. This fire destroyed mayn other paintings, but venezia would not be Venezia if there weren’t more of those fantastic artists to follow and produce even more marvellous paintings. Jacopo Robusti (Tintoretto) was a painter who lived and worked in La Serenissima all his life (except one trip to Mantova). He left us marvellous cycles in fraternities and also the Paradise in Palazzo Ducale. Paolo Caliari (Veronese) also makes us marvel at several ceilings he finished in Palazzo Ducale. He also made “Dinner in the House of Levi” and was even tortured by the Inquisition for having painted drunken people, parrots, gnomes and other “scurrilities” in this one. I like his answer – that he as a painter just made the same as poets and other weirdos. Haha, not exactly something these.. idiots were expecting to hear. He wasn’t beheaded for that very much honest answer though.
Other masters we meet on our strolls through La Serenissima are Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Antonio Canal (Canaletto) and Pietro Longhi.
I like their nicknames – obviously often signifying where they have been born (Veronese) or what their family’s profession was (Tintoretto).
Fence posters and store...
Fence posters and store windows announced an Antonio Vivaldi Concert in the Church of the Assasins-named for the at least 3 assassinations that took place during Mass, of all things. The church had to be closed and purified after each assassination. The concert was magnificant, the acoustics wonderful.
a regatta in Venice
On May 26 and 27 a great event will take place in Venice: The Velalonga. All those who are interested in sailing or rowing can participate! The Circolo Velico Casanova (www.circolovelicocasanova.it; www.velalonga.com) will organize this event for the 6th year.
After that day, a Sailing Raid has been organized! Sail on the lagoon on traditional lug sailboats for one week. Worth a try!