Here in Venice.
Wanted to give some quick and (hopefully for you) interesting bits from my trip so far. You can do Venice pretty cheaply if you’re innovative. And you get to see the same Venice everyone else does who go the ‘spensive route.
1) My hotel (pic here) is not bad for 150 euros for three nights total. Clean bed, clean bath and bohemian character. It’s right on the Grand Canal, across from the train station – where I head in the morning to catch the train to Florence – and just a hop over the canal bridge where the airport bus which dropped me off on Monday for 6 euros. Then a two day (30 euros) unlimited transportation pass so you can go crazy going everywhere, which I did.
2) Yesterday I toured the city like a man on a mission. I wanted to see all the major Cathedrals in the city. There are many. And lots of “little” churches surrounding these. More churches here than we have Starbucks at home. But sadly, not as passionately frequented by the faithful.
a) First was the Basilica San Marco – the place where St. Mark’s bones rest. It is the most famous and popular for tourists.
b) The one I liked best though was across the canal and visually stunning. The Basilica Santa Maria Della Salute, dedicated to Mary after it was perceived she saved the city from the hardest tragedy of the plague of 1630, hence the name “salute” for health. I made my way around the sanctuary taking in all the art, and soon thought, “hey, that’s like the other piece they have over there.” Then moved on to the next in the following chapel, saying the same thing. Then I realized I had been so taken with the surroundings that I was on my second time around the place. A remarkable house for God. These people had vision.
c) The next church I enjoyed as well was the Basilica Santa Maria Glorioso dei Frari, completed in 1338. It sits back in one of the neighborhoods, a bit hard to find. I just happened to stumble upon it. It has amazing art, more so than the previous two, one of which is Titian’s most important religious work, the Assumption of Mary presented as the altar piece. (Titian is buried here as well.) The light Titian incorporated to illuminate the action is a mark of his mastery.
Bellini has two noted triptychs here, Madonna and the Saints in a side chapel and Christ on the Throne in another.
I sat in this church for quite some while, just taking in the surroundings and reflecting. These works each tell a story about our faith.
Compared with the other two cathedrals, it is unimpressive externally, but exceeds them both internally. It’s just magnificent. Too many pictures to share with you here, but this one of the choir stalls below shows their beauty, all in meticulously hand-carved detail of course. Just stunning.
When I finally rose to leave, the sun had long set and since I just tripped upon finding the place, I had no idea how to get home. So I started walking in the direction of my hotel. And kept walking, taking turns here and there to make sure I was headed in the direction of the Grand Canal to catch the vaporetto (water bus) to the hotel. I was sure I was on the right path and just kept confidently pressing ahead. Came around the corner, and there she was… the basilica I had just left. Big, big circle. So I took a different path home, which must be the right one. Twist, turns, over bridges, down alleys. And there she was again: Santa Maria Glorioso. It wasn’t so glorioso this third time. Tried it again, another different route and made it to the vaporetto stop. Then home, too tired to go get dinner, so went to bed at about 9:30 and slept like a bear til breakfast, windows open, cool breeze and the gentle sound of rain.
Today, November 12, it rained and rained and rained. All day. Then some more for good measure. Stayed in my hotel room and read the New Yorker and Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted. And slept some more.
By dinner time, the rain wore off and I was hungry. Took the water bus out to the Venetian beach and got dinner, which is where I am now writing this post. And there must a poker game in the back, cuz shifty looking men keep coming through and taking the stairs to a room above. Members, or victims of the Venetian mafia? And there’s a shifty looking guy watching the door. But the soundtrack from Little Mermaid is playing on the sound system (serious!), so it must all be wholesome fun.
And i leave you w/ a nice classic venetian pic.