It's Been a Hot time in the Old Churches Today

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August 6th 2013
Published: June 22nd 2017
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We woke up to another 90 degree, humid day in Venice. We were happy not to have an action packed agenda for the day, though by its end, we felt like we got in quite a bit. Our morning began with another apartment-kitchen-contrived breakfast of champions. Not in a hurry to head out into the heat, we took our time.

Finally, it was off to the San Marco vaporetto stop to figure out how to travel across the lagoon to Campo San Georgio. It was one stop away, but there were three stations and it took us awhile to find the right one. In the process, we each shed more water than our portable air conditioning units. One stop away and we found ourselves in front of Campo San Georgio. Directly across from the famous San Marco Campanille, the church dates to the 1500s. The architect, Palladio, did not follow traditional Renaissance style. His departures from convention are today described as "Palladian." Instantly, we were happy to find a light breeze and the absence of throngs of people. The view of Venice from San Georgio was breathtaking.

Of note was the altar piece, which was completed during the Scientific Revolution. Instead of seeing the advancement of knowledge as a threat, Palladio created an altar with God standing atop a giant golden sphere, symbolic of the new revelation that the earth was round. The message: "So this is a little different than you thought, but I'm still in charge." After walking around and taking in the church's interior, we invested our Euros in an elevator ride to the top of San Georgio's belltower (campanile). We timed it just right, arriving 15 minutes before the stroke(s) of noon. We took in views in all four directions and, when we heard the bells start to ring at San Marco, knew it was soon to be our time. Many ears were plugged as the bells of our tower chimed in the arrival of the afternoon. Off in the distance, Barb saw something and asked if it was a cruise ship or an island. We decided it was an island.

Just outside San Georgio was an interesting work of art that captured our attention on the day arrived. It was a giant, pink, inflatable, deformed, limbless, pregnant woman, which we thought was really weird in its setting. As it turned out, it was a replica of the work, "Breath" that was unveiled in London at the para-Olympics to celebrate the courage of a woman with special needs who gave birth to a healthy baby boy in spite of her circumstances. What we though was weird was actually a story of triumph.

We then walked along the eastern side of the island where a number of shell themed art pieces were on display. In our time in Venice, we had seen maybe one or two policemen. These shells must have been national treasures, because there were three armed guards making sure "No Touch!" Oh well.

Departing from San Georgio, we boarded a vaporetto for the long route around Venice and back to Rialto for a walking tour that would lead us to pizza and, eventually, the Friari Church. On our vaporetto ride, we were shocked as an ominously large cruise ship came around the corner. Its size dwarfed the neighboring Venetian buildings on a ridiculous scale. It really seemed out of place. It wasn't an island. Once again, it was a tale of "sweatin' to the oldies" as we took in piazzas, markets, squares, and places that, without the descriptions in our guide book, would otherwise be passed without much note. A stop was in order to refill our water bottles from a still-functioning fountain. Capped off wells reminded us of the days of the plague, during which 1 in 3 Venetians perished.

Finally, we arrived at Campo del Friari. The current building was consecrated in 1492, the year of Columbus' voyage and 115 years before the first English settlement at Jamestown. It really put things in perspective to walk on a marble floor and below wooden beams that predated the civilization in which we live. The Franciscans were, at the time, an order that sought to teach the message of the Gospel in human terms, and to reach the faithful with artistic messages that spoke to them in ways with which they could personally identify. The main altar, "The Assumption of the Virgin Mary" fit the setting beautifully. Unlike other works, those in Friari seemed vibrant and colorful. The switch from egg-yolk-based-pigment to oil-based paint was a good one for posterity. Art in a setting meant for appreciation by the masses as opposed to art gathered in museums seemed to hit on the Franciscan ideal.

From there, wiped out by the heat, we headed back home, cooled off, and drank a lot of water. A little nap time was essential before dinner. Perhaps the concept of the siesta was invented as a precursor to air conditioning. We siesta-ed in our air conditioning.

It was time for dinner in a good Italian restaurant. Go figure. Surprisingly, there were a few in the neighborhood. After a bit of souvenir gathering, we settled on a place and enjoyed plates of lasagna and tagliatelle with mushroom cream sauce. It was a fitting setting for our last supper in Venice. (Without correction, we are set for eight last suppers in Milan. More on that later.)

Tonight we rest, pack, and are off tomorrow to the financial capital of the north, Milan. Ciao.

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