Published: May 17th 2012May 17th 2012
It has been pointed out to me by an astute reader that almost all of my posts involve a lot of tiramisu, and that is obviously because it is delicious. It is probably also because eating lots of sweets is a good way to feel better about having to leave Braedon behind to struggle away working in the ICU. There was no tiramisu today, but never fear, I had plenty of treats.
Up early, the plan being to catch the vaporetti and take it through the grand canal to St. Mark's square. There are many routes going every which way, and with our 60 minute passes in hand we got on a vaporetti that did in fact go to St. Mark's square but not via the grand canal, but instead via the industrial district. This was unplanned but interesting, and gave an unattractive and functional view of the city that turned out to be in direct contrast to the glory of the grand canal.
St. Mark's square is a tourist Mecca, and nice and flat so the Americans can roll in. It was already getting busy at 8:00 in the morning, but the cafes were not crowded and we
decided to each have a cappuccino, despite the knowledge that they would drastically hike the price because of the location. Our guess was they might charge us four, maybe even five Euros each. Wrong. 8.50 Euros. Each.
After bottling and saving my urine since the cost of making it was so high, we boarded the correct vaporetti and took it down the grand canal, which was magnificent. The canal is wider than other canals, and doesn't have any little sidewalks along the side, so really the only way to see it is on the water. The canal is very busy, crowded with vaporetti, police boats, fire boats, tradesmen and gondolas stuffed with Asian tourists clapping with tremendous enthusiasm at their singing gondolier. The canal is lined with extremely grand palazzos, or palaces. Some are falling apart, and some have been kept up astonishingly well. It was a great way to start the day.
Then we were back at the train station, and decided to head for the Scuola Grande di San Rocca to see the Tintorettos. It didn't make sense to me either. The Scuola Grande is defined thusly: The Scuola di San Rocco ("Confraternity of St. Roch",
protector against plague, which had struck Venice in that century) was established in 1478 by a group of wealthy Venetian citizens, next to the church of San Rocco, from which it takes its name. Tintorretto was commissioned to decorate the entire interior, which was quite unusual. The ceiling is considered one of the most important ceiling paintings after the Sistine chapel. It's a real pain in the ass to look up all the time, and I've almost been head butted a few times by sudden head flings on the part of my travel companions, but this clever place had figured it out. They had a stack of very lovely and also very heavy mirrors, so that you can stand in the middle of the room, hold out your mirror, and look down into your hands. Genius.
Gotta stop for a cream puff. Obviously.
Off to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and Garden. Mostly modern art, which unfortunately I don't have as great and appreciation for, a lovely terrace on the grand canal and a beautiful garden.
Lunch in our favorite square, but different place. Bread was good. Italians, so far in my experience, are not clever about salad.
The few that we've had have contained iceberg lettuce, or just one kind of lettuce and tomato. I'm surprised they're not more skilled at putting together a variety of greens and veggies and cheese. We all ordered whole grilled fish, which was extremely tasty. My first cut into mine I hit an ovary and eggs exploded everywhere. After that it was uneventful except for the odd bold sparrow stealing a bit of fish skin. We sat in the sun and watched the world go by while finishing the day's first bottle of wine. When we finally extracted ourselves from our chairs it was already time for a gelato. Mom had caramel, dad had hazelnut and chocolate and I had marscapone cheese and fig.
Would not be a day in Venice if we didn't get to punch our church cards, so off to Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. This church is one of the greatest churches in the city, it has the status of a minor basilica. And for the love of god, non-italian people, call it "The Frari" before it ties a knot in your tongue it'll take an exorcist surgeon to undo. It stands on the
Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district. The church is dedicated to the Assumption, and was completed in 1396. Most of the interior is marble, and must feel great on a really hot day. Today was just warm, so no relief from the heat was required.
The goal since the morning had been to return to Saint Mark's and go into one of the three buildings, the basilica, the library or the Palazzo Ducale, (or the house where the Duke lived and where all the political business was carried out). The word "ducal" means Duke, but it makes me think of Dukoral, the medicine we give to prevent traveler's diarrhea. It's an easy medicine to remember, compared to simething like cefazolin, because you just think, if you want to prevent explosive dookie from something contaminated the patient put in their mouth....dookie....oral....dukoral! What was I talking about? The basilica line was absurdly long, so we went into the political building, and I'm glad we did! We couldn't take very many pictures because they were so strict about no cameras, but it was a very impressive building meant to awe and terrify foreign heads of state. In
all the big rooms there were gigantic paintings of venice's triumphs in battles, and the shear size of the place was incredible. It boasts the largest oil painting in the world, Paradisio by Tintoretto. We all thought of my brother max looking at the battle paintings because sometimes he has to draw many ships, and these paintings depicted scenes of the navy of Venice attacking other cities, and there were too many boats to count and hundreds of soldiers. It's difficult to do them justice, and with such a large scale they could afford the odd amusing moment such as a fellow who had seen shot with an arrow in the head who is holding his head like, jeez what a bad day. In another painting they're using catapults to launch bread across a river. Perhaps in medieval days stale bread was weaponized.
To the market! Sausage for the pasta, things for breakfast, wedge of Brie, olives, more wine, potato chips. Snacks at home, second bottle of wine. Dinner was yesterday's pasta with sausage and roasted vegetables added. It really makes sense to stay in an apartment rather than a hotel when food is so expensive and what we
make at home can be just as good. Third bottle of wine.
Tomorrow we're going to the fish market (I know I said that yesterday but I'm pretty sure it's true today), not sure how else we'll spend our last day in Venice. We were all delighted to hear that my dad's brother Geoff made it to Italy safe and sound yesterday and we're excited to join him in the villa next week!
There are more photos below