|The Grand Canal at sunset|
|Lets Make a Deal, with Monte Hall.....Door number 1!|
|Winter's blue light on the Canal San Marco|
|A fresco dining in Cannaregio|
|Portico of the Palazzo Ducale on a foggy evening|
|Night fog in the Giardini Publico|
|Ponte di Rialto|
One of the things that makes Venice truly unique is that there are no cars. This is the largest pedestrian area in all of Europe and is only surpassed in size by the Medinas of large cities in North Africa, such as Fez in Morocco. Cars are the bane of the urban landscape. Rome is beautiful but its lovely lanes and piazzas are often filled with cars, which is a visually degrading thing. The air pollution turns everything brown or black, and the noise is relentless. But Venice shimmers quietly in its reflection on the water. A gloss black gondola glides by silently with its entranced passengers nestled in red velvet upholstered seats between gilded finials. The elegance of living on water seems to have been transmitted in to the very embellishment of the city. Beauty is paramount here.
|Gondolas at Ponte dei Sospiri|
Venice was originally settled in the fourth century AD by refugees from the mainland escaping the raids of invaders from the north and east. They built houses on wooden pilings on the marshy sand bars of the lagoon and developed a thriving economy in the production of salt. As the city grew, so did its influence throughout the Adriatic region.
|A marshy undeveloped canal in Torcello give an indication of what the islands looked like before being built upon|
|The Arsenale, where many of Venice's ships were built|
|Piazza San Marco, the Campanile, and Basilica di San Marco|
|Piazzeta di San Marco, with the Palazzo Ducale on the left and Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore in the distance|
|Sunset over Venezia from the Campanile di San Marco|
|Replicas of the Constantinople Horses on the balcony of Basilica di San Marco|
|The original gilded horses taken from the Hippodrome of Constaninople during the 4th Crusade|
|Green and gold glass mosaics depicting scenes from Genesis in the Old Testament|
|A mosaic of Christ with the Crown of Thorns in the Basilica di San Marco|
|The grandiose Sala del Maggior Consiglio in the Palazzo Ducale|
|The Venetian Gothic exterior of the Palazzo Ducale|
|The Gothic altar of Chiesa di San Zaccaria with Giovanni Bellini's La vergine in Trono col Bambino|
|The main entrance to Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari|
|Pyramidal monument dedicated to the sculptor Canova and the extraordinary monument to Doge Giovanne Pesaro|
|Chiesa di Santa Giorgio Maggiore|
|A maze seen from the Campanile di San Giorgio Maggiore|
|Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute in Dorsaduro|
|The Assumption, by Titian, in Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari|
|The Scoula Grande di San Rocco is covered in paintings by Jacopo Tintoretto|
|Chiesa di San Sebastiano features masterpieces by Paolo Veronese|
My favorite is perhaps the painter Vittore Carpaccio, who studied under the master Gentile Bellini.
|A detail of a painting by the artist Vittoreo Carpaccio in the Gallerie dell'Accademia|
Bellini's work is delicate and perfect in its rendering. It would require weeks to cover all of the great artists who blessed Venice with their masterful skill, so I will give it a rest.
|A chamber ensemble practices in a church.|
As the Venetian empire expanded to include the islands of Cypress and Crete, a wealth of goods flooded in and out of the city from Arab and Byzantine sources. Venice was the richest and most socially refined city in Europe for some time, and grand palazzos were built along the grand canal in an almost competitive manner.
|Palazzos large and small on the Grand Canal|
|The Ca' d'Or|
|The ornate Venetian Gothic Porta della Carta, Palazzo Ducale|
|The Renaissance style 16th Century Palazzo Barbarigo was decorated with Murano glass mosaic in 1886|
|The Baroque interior and large windows in Ca'Rezzonico|
|The spiral staircase of the 15th Century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo|
|One of my favorite buildings for its aquatic carvings is the Borsa|
Because the palazzos were approached from the water the principal facades face the canals rather than streets. Like so many visitors to Venice I began to fantasize having a palazzo of my own, although I tended to be most attracted to ones of more modest size like this charming place with a lovely little garden fronting the canal.
|Shopping for a Palazzo|
|Even the more humble abodes of Venice have great character, and wonderful chimneys|
Venice has a great many wonderful museums housing its art and cultural treasures. The somewhat forlorn but magnificent Gallerie dell'Accademia in Dorsoduro is the most important repository for the works of great Venetian masters.
|A grand gallery featuring works by Titian and Tintoretto|
The Museo Correr in the vast Ala Napoleonica, a palace built by the Emperor Napoleon after he captured the city in 1797 houses an eclectic collection of paintings and the Museo Archeologico, with ancient works. The most impressive room in the complex is the Renaissance Libraria Nacionale Marciana, which was built to house an important collection of manuscripts donated to the republic by Cardinal Giovanni Bessarioni. The collection of ancient Greek and Latin texts is one of the most significant in the world. The library's over the top ceiling is a classic example of Venetian ornamentation.
|Liberia Nazionale Marciana|
The Ca' Pesaro contains the Gallerie d'Arte Moderna, with a mixed bag collection of 20th Century artists including Klimpt and Chagall. The most impressive works for me were the sculptures of Adolfo Wildt.
|The entry courtyard to Ca'Pesaro|
|Sculpture of a nude by Adolfo Wildt|
On the top floor is the Museo d'Arte Orientale, an amazing collection of thousands of objects brought back to Venice by Prince Henry II of Borbone, who traveled through east Asia from 1887-89. This museum is often overlooked as the works are exotic but it is fascinating and beautifully displayed.
|Edo period horse bridles in the Museo d'Arte Orientale|
Another interesting museum for its eccentric painting collection that is often overlooked is the Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra and the Chiostro di San Apollonia. The cloisters are simple and elegant, but what really caught my eye was a painting of the Last Supper where a dog is being served up for dinner.
|Ultima Cena (the Last Supper) by Giovan Battista Pittoni|
The Museo di Storia Naturale has recently reopened after extensive renovations and is a masterpiece of presentation. The rooms and displays look almost as if they were designed by a Hermes window decorator. The arrangements are artistic as well as educational. I loved this museum, and I was the only one there apart from a group of school children.
|African animals artfully displayed in the Museo di Storia Naturale|
|Albino deer, two headed calves and complimentary colors in nature|
Contemporary Art is well represented in Venezia, particularly at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Her biography is worth reading at http://www.guggenheim-venice.it/inglese/museum/peggy.html
She moved to Venice and bought the Palazzo Venier de Leoni on the Grand Canal in the Dorsoduro district, which she eventually opened to the public to exhibit some of the finest works in her vast collection of art from the first half of the 20th Century. Peggy had excellent taste and the museum is a visual feast of works by the pioneers of modern art.
|Palazzo Venier Leone, home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection|
|Contemplating Jackson Pollock|
|Gino Severini, Sea=Dancer|
The Venice Bienniale is a major exhibition of art, architecture and music that happens every other year. Three world class spaces host exhibitions. The Palazzo Grassi is run by the Francois Pinault Foundation and features a collection of works indicative of the strange path that much of modern art has taken, entering the realm of intellectual existentialism. Art is no longer trying to be aesthetically pleasing or meaningful, but rather it exists just because it was created. Frequently it can be horrific or shocking or baffling, and usually somewhat confusing. The affect it has on the brain is interesting but not always satisfying. At its best it has a sense of humor, but I am old fashioned and I like beauty, so if the intension is to shock with ugliness I usually don't derive any satisfaction from the experience.
|Jeff Koons iconic pink balloon poodle in the Palazzo Grassi|
At the exhibition space at Punta della Dogana I actually felt sorry for the docents that had to watch over rooms displaying art that bordered on irritating. One video installation was so obnoxious that it could easily drive a person insane having to listen the the ceaseless jabber pouring from the speakers. The Venetian artist Gigi Bon told me that there used to be a famous lantern on the Punta that young lovers would visit for their first kiss. The lantern disappeared during the remodeling of the building in to a museum and was replaced by an interesting pure white sculpture of a naked boy holding a frog by the leg in his extended arm. While the work is interesting in this dramatic location, it requires that there be a guard 24 hours a day to make sure that nobody touches it. But she told me the real reason is that angry Venetians longing for their romantic landmark would like very much to toss the boy in to the Grand Canal.
|Boy with Frog, by Charles Ray, on the Punta del Dogana|
The museum here is a beautiful space with world class lighting but the majority of the works left me feeling a little queazy. One room has cheap patio furniture on squares of green astroturf, some kind of Marcel Duchamp statement that anything can be art without the profound simplicity that Duchamp's objects illicit. The docent in that room was for me the most interesting part of the installation, which included cannons. He looked like he was intended to be part of the work.
|Cannons, a snake, palms in plastic pots, and a gun on astroturf carpets. The man is alive.|
|A Fortuny scenery painting for the opera Parsifal|
|Venetia Studium shop in San Marco|
Fashion in Venice has always been flamboyant and stylish. In the 14th Century, men wore pants with two different colors of stockings as an indicator of which societal club they belonged to. These were called 'Companie della Calza', literally a 'Trousers Club'. Over these they wore fanciful pleated jackets, robes, and hats to a degree of show usually reserved for women, with rich silk velvet brocades and lace from Burano.
|Masks are produced in great quantity today. The long beaked Plague Doctor masks can be seen on the lower left|
|Isola San Michele, Venice's island cemetery|
|Period costumes of extravagant opulence are a favorite during Carnevale|
|The burden and weight of vanity invokes a serious demeanor|
|Masks I decorated in a lighter vein|
|A performance by Iliope in on the Fondamente Cannaregio|
|A regatta of colorful boats on the Grand Canal at the beginning of Carnevale|
|Cimitero di San Michele|
Beyond Isola di San Michele is Murano, which has been famous for the production of fine glass since 1291, when all of the glass makers of Venice were forced to move there to reduce the risk of fires. Murano glass is famous throughout the world for the richness of its color and ingenuity of design. Magnificent chandeliers and volumes of kitche produced in the foundries fill shops all over Venice.
|Murano has been a famous center for the production of fine glass for centuries|
|Contemporary Glass vessels designed by the architect Carlo Scarpa|
|A delicate and kinky Murano candelabra celebrating the excesses of Carnevale|
|The fishing village of Burano is known for its colorful houses and the tradition of lace making|
|Lace makers in Burano|
|Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello|
|Remnants of the ancient city of Torcello|
|The shell covered beach of Lido di Venezia|
Thanks for reading, Jeffrey
|An abandoned garden in Castello|