TRAVEL with pat and lew

* the magic of Venice … Sept 2011

Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 5, 2011

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Just say the word “Venice” and the mind conjures images of romantic canals and the slow passage of gondolas.

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St. Mark’s Square during the day is so jammed with cruise boat tourist groups moving like large herds that it’s best to stay away. At night, it is gorgeous, with music and (very expensive) open air bars. 

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At 7:00 am, it is a perfect place for a morning run.

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It’s also perfect for kids and pigeons … and dancers???

Perhaps an explanation is in order. A band was playing, and Pat and I danced. When we finished, a group at a nearby table applauded. So we asked them to join in the next dance.

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The Galerie del Accademia … a superb collection of art taken from the churches of Venice on the order of Napoleon.

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the saga of Ursula by Vittore Carpaccio

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Pat has arranged for herself a threefold course in Renaissance art … preparing before our trip to Italy, viewing the art, and then reviewing her course materials with the new appreciation of personally seeing the works. And I got to have my own personal art docent.

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And also to amuse myself by finding a mirror on the stairs up to our apartment.

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Sights of Venice

a door handle, music museum, lladro tango, dali’s clock

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thousands of great store windows

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What’s new on the Rialtro? Plenty! We find a tiny cafe tucked into a corner of the bridge at water level. Once we had coffee, the next time bellinis. And we watched the action, an ever-changing mosaic of water taxis, gondolas, ferries, and UPS boats conducting an intricate dance, never colliding.

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the Rialto Bridge

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and of course there are some shops on the Rialto

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The world’s first ghetto was established in Venice, at the site of an old foundry (ghetto means foundry). Our tour of the remains of a once vibrant Jewish community was fascinating. Several small synagogues. Stories from the period of Nazi occupation. “Fortunately,” our guide says, “the roundup of Jews was conducted in the Italian manner. Inefficiently.” He told us the old Jews in nursing homes were shipped off to Auschwitz and most of the rest, dispersed throughout the city (no longer living in the ghetto) survived.

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exterior of synagogues

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the skylight above the bima corresponds to the cuppola in the photo above

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There is an altarpiece by Giovanni Bellini at the church of San Zaccaria that was painted in place so that the light from the window sweeps across the painting and at one point in each sunny day illuminates the heads of both St. Peter and St. Zaccaria. It was truly an incredible experience to watch this happen, and appreciate just how fast the earth rotates on its axis.

Bellini’s altarpiece at San Zaccaria

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We had eaten a large lunch and wanted only a prosecco and dessert. It was surprising to us that restaurants with mostly empty tables would not take us, insisting they would only serve full dinners. It worked out fine. We were finally accommodated in an otherwise empty courtyard where the atmosphere of an ancient time surrounded us.

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You don’t take a taxi to the airport. You take a water taxi, winding first through the interior canals and then gaining speed across the wide bay. A great way to end our three weeks in Italy.

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