Posted by: jeanne | February 21, 2017

francis

on saturday i went to the airport to pick up francis, who flew in from barcelona at noon.  i also went to check what time the left luggage office openes (5am), when the first bus to the airport leaves piazzale roma (4:35am) and whether there was time to collect the luggage and get it to the ticket counter before they closed the gate (6:20 flight – there is).

but mainly i went there to collect francis.

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on the way i passed a bunch of buskers in front of the train station, all playing for crowds in plain sight and sound of the next ones.  i stopped in front of this one because he was playing 3 guitars at once, pretty cool even for venice.  i gave him money.

once i picked francis up, it was necessary to by a single actv fare (8 euro) to take the bus to venice.  if you don’t buy a ticket, you risk a 60 euro fine, and the inspectors are pretty regular.

when we got to piazzale roma, we went to buy him a 2-day vaporetto pass for 30 euro.  it seems like a lot, but a single vaporetto fare is 8 euro, and if you are mobility-challenged, it’s a big deal to be able to get on and off the vaporettos all day.

if you are mobility challenged, you want to take careful note of where your hotel/lodgings are.  you need to know how many bridges you’re going to have to bump over with your luggage.  you’ll need to know how close to a vaporetto stop you’ll be.  you’ll want to know how many stairs you’re going to have to climb to get to your room.  if you’re assiduous with your planning, then you can arrange to be within a hundred yards of a vaporetto stop, on the ground floor, and take all your trips to museums/galleries/restaurants within the same hundred yards of a vaporetto stop.  this means museums with lifts.  this means no doge’s palace and dungeons.

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we got on the vaporetto, and since this is francis’ favorite thing to do in venice, we stood on deck, in a corner where there were plenty of sturdy handholds against the shuddering, swaying, and collisons of the boat.  and then we watched venice go slowly by as we made our way to the ca’ rezzonico vaporetto stop, a hundred yards beyond which was francis’ hotel, the locanda san barnaba, which started life as a minor palazzo and has found fame as a reasonably priced, very  nice hotel that caters to photography groups.

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on the way i saw a costumer taking a selfie.  the epitome of something something.

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this is francis’ room at the inn, a very nice double on the ground floor.  it’s not a trick of the camera, the ceiling really does slope significantly, which means the floor above also slopes.  it can be disconcerting, especially if you happen to be drunk and trying to navigate to the bathroom in the dark.  just saying.

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the hotel has its own water door, as befits a sometime palazzo.  and a wonderful little courtyard where you can have a cigarette, a meal, read a book, or have a drink or a snooze.  the hotel has a bar as well as a breakfast room.

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i’m always amazed at the useless warnings they offer nicotine addicts.

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the first thing we did after we dumped francis’ bag in his room was to go find some food.  it was about 3pm at this point, and to our dismay (and proving our assumption), most restaurants are not open for lunch, and those who are had already closed and gone home for lunch.  but we did find a restaurant;  two, actually.  we looked into one that had a guy sitting there at the table.  we stopped at several that had a guy sitting at the table, and they all waved us off.  this guy told us they were closed for lunch, but directed us across the street, where there was another restaurant, a sister restaurant.  so we asked, and they said yes lunch is fine open all day!  so we went in.  our table had a nice little chalk sketch on it, and the window gave on to a private courtyard with a most interesting wellhead that was completely invisible from the street.  score.

we had two courses.  i had sarde in sour, and francis had some pasta and seafood confection, and then he had branzolini (fish) and i had pasta and mixed fish (eel, shrimp).  it was very good, not too expensive (for a restaurant.  we eat at home and spend maybe 2 euro a meal; you go to a restaurant and it’s 50 euro for the same food).

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then we went back to campo san barnaba for coffee and a frittelle.  i’m afraid it was francis’ only taste of the things, because while i had intended to get him one every day, he never made it back to our house where we’d lain on a goodly supply of them against his visit.

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oh well.  we had coffee, and pastry, and sat next to some german tourist who ordered a huge mug of beer.  the waiter told him, as he deliberated whether he wanted a second one, that the record was four in one hour.  we’re talking a liter and a half of beer in a giant mug.

and then the buskers came by to play for money.  we had heard them playing at a nearby outdoor restaurant before they came to us, and we heard them playing the next one down after they left us.  they’re from spain, and drilled out three or four spanish songs – the frito banditofrito bandito song, guantanamera (a song about waterboarding), etc.  and francis, who lives in spain, rolled his eyes the whole time.  the girls were cute, but i agreed with him.

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meanwhile, jim and connor were down on via garibaldi, taking in the parade of the 12 maries from san pietro to san marco.  everybody had on some sort of medieval / renaissance costume except for the band at the end, who were dressed more like elizabethan courtiers.  the boys had fun, and we had planned to meet at san giorgio for the nightly costume review at sunset.

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participants

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spectators

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a marie, perhaps named giulia, toted by altar boys

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another marie, perhaps named giulia, toted by gondoliers

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we all met up at san giorgio, where francis and i were a bit too late for the costumes, which were all lined up for the vaporetto back when we got there.  jim and connor had been there for awhile, and since it’s a small island, connor got to run around at will.  i spotted him standing up on a set of passarelle, talking to someone at random.  that’s what he does.

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and then we came back as the light fled and the first star came out.  francis and i left the boys on the vaporetto at ca’ rezzonico, and we walked to san barnaba for dinner and a late drink.

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we went looking for dinner.  we ended up at the restaurant across the street from where we ate lunch.  we tried four restaurants before this one, and each one said they were full, and maybe if we returned at 9:30 (it was 7:30) they would have space.  empty tables had reservations, and one couple who were making the rounds as we were, got taken to the last available space, so we walked to the restaurant we’d eaten at that afternoon, and saw the waiter from it at the place across the street.  he said he moves around a lot.

this time i had paparadelle with duck ragout, and he had something pasta.  we had wanted risotto, but they were out.  i couldn’t finish mine, so francis got to.

and then we had a gin and tonic and sat outside with it.  i could drink maybe an inch of it before realizing it wasn’t going to sit well with me.  then i left him heading for his hotel, and headed for my house, a ten minute walk away, down empty streets and narrow alleys, as safe as houses.

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on sunday i got up before dawn and went down to san marco for the costumes.  people get up at ungodly hours and dress, then wander down to san marco before the light, because there are no tourists, and because the early morning light is somehow magical.  really, tho, because there are no tourists getting in the way and wanting to get selfies with the costumers.  the costumers are there for the professional photographers, not for the tourists.

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this is what the grand canal looks like when there’s no traffic stirring up the waters

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the magnificent salute in dawn’s early light.  i must have photographed it in all conditions by now

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first thing in the morning, most of the costumes have their own lights.  at exactly dawn the streetlights go out, and then it depends on the quality of your camera what kind of photo you get

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the moment the sun comes up, the tourists do too.  before that, it’s all business, with photographers and models exchanging cards and working the poses

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and then it becomes a madhouse, and i like taking pictures of madhouses, but it’s useless to jim, who wants all these photos as references for his many venetian carnival painting

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so that’s when i leave, when it becomes tedious and boring.  but costumers are still wandering in, and i caught this one resolutely marching toward the campanile and the waterside for her turn with the cameras.

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otherwise, nobody’s up except the street sweepers and garbage collectors, even on a sunday, because you wouldn’t believe the state of the garbage cans in this part of venice.

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i wandered off toward home.  it was a very low tide, and you can see the bottom in this picture.  those are barnicles at the waterline.

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this is what venetians think of tourists.  not a pretty sight

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you see in old etchings that venice used to look a lot more like this.  a grassy verge is quite rare these days

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another gargoyle type head at the side entrance to a church.  it has some meaning but i have lost the reference.  something about sin and doom

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i found myself with failing batteries in the same general part of dorsoduro we’ve been exploring.  this is a real boatyard – a squero – where they build gondolas and other floating objects.  you can see the edge of the ramp below the water line on the right.  very low tide.

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i’m pretty sure that’s the salute from the side

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people get up early to do the laundry even on a sunday

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we had spotted this graffiti a few days ago and neglected to get a picture

i was expecting francis to go to the doge’s palace in the morning, and contact me about noonish, so i went back home and went to bed.  but when i heard from him, he had not gone to the doge’s palace but somewhere else, and told me to meet him at the hotel in an hour.

this gave me enough time to walk to strada nova from san polo, find the artist guy whose picture jim drew sometime last week, and get his card, which we had forgotten to get.  jim and connor actually braved the horrendous crowds to go find him on saturday, before going down to via garibaldi for the 12 maries parade.  but he couldn’t find him in all the buskers and face painters.

and that’s because he was wearing a fright wig, for carnival.  but i recognized him, got his card, and told him we had a plan to bring artists to venice, and needed a contact here who had contacts.

and then i realized i still had 40 minutes to go before collecting francis, and so jogged over to one of the very few irish pubs in venice and had half a pint.  a little alcohol goes a long way toward making the crowds more bearable, except for the tendency to swear at them under one’s breath…

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a trip to the bathroom revealed a sure-fire way of keeping the boys from peeing on the seat…

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when i got to the hotel, francis was just up after a short nap, and i tarried in the lobby and got a nice photo of a frenchwoman in costume, ready to go down to san marco to pose.

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we went the other way.  the problem with some stops on the vaporetto is that boats going both ways stop there, and if you’re not careful you’ll get on going the wrong way.  this almost happened to francis, who thought it would be fine if he lingered in the back of the pontoon behind all the costumers who were going to san marco.  i got on the boat, and the sailor was casting off when i realized francis wasn’t getting on.  so there followed a lot of shouting and begging, until the sailor held the boat and francis got on board.  whew.  i would have never found him again.

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see our house now?  it’s the orange one in the background, and jim was inside drawing when i shot this.  i’d told him not to wait up for us, even tho i had fresh bread and frittelle waiting for us

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couldn’t resist getting a shot of these folks, taking in the sights

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this is the corner of ca’ d’oro, cameo’d by the salt water

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back at the irish pub, we had a couple of pints and then headed to dinner.  while we were there, actual gondoliers came by on their way home, and had whatever they were drinking.  you don’t usually get so close to these guys unless they’re trying to talk you into an 80 euro boat ride,

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another cigarette pack, another graphic warning

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i could never work in a bar; i hate drunks

we found a nice trattoria around the corner from the ca’ d’oro vaporetto stop, and had a lovely meal.  we shared a plate of steamed clams, and then got risotto finally, which was heavenly.  how come i can’t make it like that?

then a bar for caffe corretto (con grappa), and back on the boat to home.  i just can’t deal with these late nights filled with food and drink, so i left francis at the door, and wandered home.

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on monday i met francis at  his hotel at 10, and we took the vaporetto to the bus to the airport.  i was still nursing a wicked hangover (2 pints, a glass of wine, and a coffee with liqueur), so i left him there and came home.  and back to bed.

the rest of monday, and tuesday, i will cover tomorrow.  on wednesday marie comes to spend the rest of carnival with us, and the pace will pick up considerably, as she is more determined than jim is to get carnival costumes on camera.

Posted by: jeanne | February 18, 2017

ca’ pesaro

today i slept until noon, and i think i’m mainly over whatever the hell it was. the fog persisted, and the call was for rain, so we dashed out about 1:30 and decided to take in the william merritt chase exhibit at ca’ pesaro.

the thing about venice is that it only seems like a maze, but you soon get used to the complexity, and the joke about ‘just go straight’ makes a lot more sense. of course, straight doesn’t mean the shortest distance between two points, but rather the obvious route. instead of ‘just go straight’ you could easily say ‘just follow the tourists’ and arrive at the same result. the interesting thing about today’s ramble is that we actually managed to find a route that we hadn’t been on before.

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the sign says no big ships. we saw our first cruise shit the other day, coming back from panorama. it sticks up over everything, white and hulking, like some construction fabric over an unsightly renovation project. the cavitation erodes foundations, the thousands of tourists clot all the streets, and it’s a good thing there are few public toilets, because they’d clog up too.

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nice little dead-end. i might paint it

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another dead-end that used to go somewhere before they bricked it up

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an excellent window surrounded by crumbling plaster and eroding bricks

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a well-head with a tree growing out of it

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a pretty cryptic piece of stonework in the courtyard of what we mistook for ca’ pesaro but was a luxury hotel

we got to ca’ pesaro without any trouble, even tho i didn’t use my map app. it always feels like a victory. it’s an enormous old 17th century palazzo, still very grand. designed by longhena, who had a hand in the monastery on san giorgio, and did really nice staircases – grand but not overwhelming. just look at the pavement on the landing:

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connor got to the piano nobile before us, of course, and reported that there were zombies there. and he was right – rodin’s burghers of callaisburghers of calais. this isn’t a cast copy of the original, but a plaster assembly. given plaster’s fragility, it’s remarkable that you can go right up and touch it (connor did). one hard knock and there’d be a hole in one of the figures.

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i’m not going to even attempt to talk about or show all the works on the first piano nobile, but here are details of several that caught my eye.

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something that nobody does is to look up or down. everybody looks at the walls, but the ceilings are mainly the old original decorations, including paintings by all sorts of people. the titian has been moved to ca’ rezzonico, but the rest of them (i asked) are original.

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the floors are also spectacular. i didn’t know you could do anything other than random patterns with terrazzo flooring but the floors are exquisite.

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connor made himself known to all the staff, on every floor. he had these folks eating out of the palm of his hand. actually, that’s not true. with a gestured question to me, they handed him a candy bar that he ate with great relish (only to ask for the oreos we had brought him a minute later). they all know his name now, and how old he is, and as we left each floor they all said ciao.

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i’m not going to enumerate the very nice bonnard, or the dufy, or the drawings by max beckman.

the guard in the modern modern rooms took great pains to take connor around and show him how the calder spins when you wave a placard at it, and discussed things to look at in various paintings (the tancredi).

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i’m not going to talk about the klee, miro, or several kandinskys that were there, nor the other modern moderns that i have never heard of but that jim was introduced to in first year art school. the juxtoposition of modern modern with baroque was too much for me.

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and connor wanted to know if this was a monster. what could i say? he mugged in attack mode so i would take a picture of him preparing to hulk smash the statue, so i guess it was a monster.

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meanwhile, jim found a pretty girl to chat up. he had forgotten that max klinger – whose fame was in etching – was also an accomplished sculptor. whenever i lose jim in a crowd, i look for the pretty girls, and there he is. it’s a joke between us at this point.

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from the sublime to the ridiculous, the exhibit below inspired me to suggest to jim that the next time he submits to the pastel society (which he always gets thrown out of), he should submit something like this: the rules, laid out literally. i’m pretty sure they wouldn’t get the joke, however.

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and then it was upstairs to the second piano nobile, for the william merritt chase paintings. he’s a painter on a par with whistler and sargent, an excellent craftsman and very famous in his time – the period of great change that ended the classical period of art and came right before the modern period. he’s linked to the impressionists as well, and taught many of american’s best artists of the era.

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venice still largely looks like this, if you take out the tourists with their selfies

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i just love his interiors, and the still lives, and his portraits with their loose brushwork reminiscent of frans hals

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connor wanted to know if the red was blood, but i explained that the palette had all the colors needed to paint the self portrait, but that the squiggles on the canvas behind the painter were just squiggles, and didn’t really represent anything.

we went downstairs for a rest before going in to the oriental art part of the museum.  jim’s legs were tired; connor wanted his oreos; i wanted to get shots off the front steps.  the picture below is the ground floor, where the merchants traditionally stored their goods, so a warehouse kind of place.  by the baroque period, tho, the height and breadth of this room served only as a grand entrance.  and grand it is.

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from the cafeteria’s outside seating area, where we had 3 euro coffees.  i may want to paint this scene

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from the second piano nobile, looking out over the rooftops in the fog

the top floor is given over to a display of oriental art – shields, swords, guns, armor, the usual.  then a nice display including a movie about the process of lacquering and repairing objects.  and a lot of cups and urns and vases.  and a bunch of netsuke, which i’ve always liked.  here’s me and jim:

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the top floor plan, showing how the building curves, because there are no straight lines in venice

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we originally thought this figure was a display, until she got up, made a circuit around the room, and then resumed her seat and wrote in her notebook and played with her phone.  she was still there when we left.

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another view across the rooftops.  the place closed at 5, but by 3:30 the sky was dark and lowering, and nice and foggy.  i’d try to paint this but i’d go crazy

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we found this just outside the palazzo.  it must be very old, and it shows the construction of the curved surfaces under some of the chimneys we see.  they used reeds, and probably covered them with linen or some other strong fabric, and then plastered and painted over that.  very interesting

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and here’s connor pointing to yet one more toy that he wants me to take a picture of for santa, as if

finally we ended up at our favorite bakery, where connor is now fascinated with the pizza guy’s work, and wants to help.  he has sort of shifted his fascination from michela to the guys who work there, and they love him back, always wanting to high-five him, and to practice their english on him (have a nice day).

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and now we’re home, and it has rained a little bit, and we’ve had dinner, and are going to read connor his bedtime story and go to bed.

tomorrow we get a visit from our friend francis, who is flying in from barcelona for the weekend.  i’ll write about that later, maybe even after the weekend is over, depending on how much free time i have (like the time i spend blogging is ‘free’ time).

Posted by: jeanne | February 17, 2017

a couple of churches in dorsoduro

i slept until almost noon, and in between dreams i heard a gondolier float past the window.  he sang this:  “just one cornetto, give it to me, with mozzarella, from napoli”  i thought it was the funniest thing i’d heard in ages.

it’s spring in venice.  it’s getting well up into the 50s and 60s every day, and only going down to the upper 30s / lower 40s at night.  tonight there’s a heavy fog out.  it sprang up in minutes, between the time we opened the shutters for the night and saw loads of stars – far more than are available in atlanta – and the end of our bedtime reading.  maybe 20 minutes, and now there are repeating fog horns, and i can just barely see the vaporetto stop across the grand canal.  where does the fog come from?  does it roll in?  does it form in place?  does it drop, or rise from the canal?  the silence is much more dense now, and the squaccos are quiet for the moment, or maybe because of the fog.

it’s spring in venice.  their seasons are christmas, and then winter proper, and then carnival, and then lent, and then spring f’real, and then summer.  hopefully we will never be here in summer, and winter is only as cold as it tends to get back home.

it’s spring in venice.  people are going around in shorts already (japanese tourists), holes in the knees of their pants (fashion), without coats or with coats tucked under their arms.

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even our accordion player (who says ciao bello at connor every time he drops a penny into his box) is sporting a new haircut and new duds, senza jacket and hoodie.

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ciao bello

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it’s spring in venice

today we wound our way without maps back to the section of dorsoduro we were in before.  next to the carmini church we had noticed an art school, and jim wanted to check it out, as well as the art supply store in campo santa margherita.

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it’s the old palazzo zenobio, which has a 2-storey ballroom we never got to see.  we got to see the inner courtyard with its pozzo, about a thousand milling students, and the information desk where three different people tried to help us figure out who was in charge.  one passed us to another as they reached their competence in english, but in the end we got all three of them writing down the name of the director, so we could call and find out if an idea we dreamed up has any chance of working.  jim woke up the other day thinking, wouldn’t it be cool if we could organize artists and students to come and paint in venice?  we’ve been thinking about it, and so today we wandered off to make contacts and collect cards and phone numbers for follow-up in a couple of weeks.

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and while jim was off in the art supply store, chatting up the ladies, connor was making friends in the campo.  he learned a valuable lesson there, when one boy came up to the kid on the police bike and pushed him off so he could ride it, wailing like he’d been done a mischief when his dad pulled him off and told him the bike wasn’t his.  connor admitted that sometimes he can be mean like that, and that he really shouldn’t behave that way or  he wouldn’t get a frittelle.  he’s been really good for the past few days.  maybe he’s sick too…

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after that we wandered around dorsoduro, heading for raffaeleraffaele‘s church, which is a centerpiece of a novel we’ve been reading.

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we love this house

but first we ran across the church of san sebastiano.  the outside of the church was wrapped in shrouds and obviously under renovation (loud hammering), but i happened to have stuffed the museum/church passes into my pocket, so we went inside.

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the altar, with its three large veronese paintings, was wreathed in scaffolding, and all we could see were a couple of painted feet and a box of restorer’s paints, but the rest of the church was very interesting, with heavily decorated ceilings and side altars to various saints.  but there was the dyptich by veronese.

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and there was a large sansovino sculpture as well.

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unless i’m misattributing it

in the sacristy, the entire ceiling was veronese.  the lights went up as i entered it, and i was halfway thru taking pictures of everything when i noticed this sign; also a sign that stated the whole area was under videosurveillance.  gulp, oh well.

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the sacristy.  other artists did the paintings on the wall

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connor has been imagining he’s getting fat because of all the frittelle.  i showed him these little porkers as an example of fat

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we wandered around back streets, noticing that the streets of dorsoduro are smaller and less imposing than those elsewhere in venice.  kind of a nice change.

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we ran across what appeared to be (by the sign out front) student apartments, with what appeared to be an actual student smoking a cigarette leaning out of his window.

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then we found the church of the angel raffaele, and it had this cute little grotto of mary in it.  i’m into lighting candles in front of statues of mary these days, on the off chance she’ll grant my wish to come back.

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and because venice is a city of fishermen, raffaele is a favorite saint, and there are more than one references to the story of the angel raphael and toby with a big fish and a dog, which in our novel is a version of a zoroastrian legend, rather than just apocrypha of the old testament.

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the dog’s at the lower right of this huge statue

and then we wandered some more, heading for piazzale roma.  on the way we met a nice lost english couple and i tried to direct them to the frari via piazzale roma, since the way is so well marked, but after misdirecting them in the right direction, they ran across a local student, who said follow me, and off they trotted, blithely assuring us they’d run into us again in about half an hour.  and of course we never saw them again, but ciao anyway.

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people were out in force at the local cafes.  as we got closer and closer to piazzale roma, it became apparent that this was a very secluded part of town.  all locals, no tourists.

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we passed this wonderful house needing to be renovated.

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and this great house in the middle of being renovated.

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and this cool house that’s been renovated recently, and in fact was one of our final choices of a place to stay.  fortunately, the agent scoffed at our request for a discount, and that’s too bad for him, because the ground floor, where would  have been staying, is still boarded up in the middle of carnival.  nyah nyah.

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we were in fact in search of a quite large park (on the map) that we were hoping to spend some of connor’s energy in, but it was behind locked gates, because apparently it’s owned by the customs people, and is a part of venice where cars are allowed and people aren’t

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so we walked on some more, past this wonderful pile of deteriorating grandness, above, and its water stairs, below. just the kind of things jim and i love coming across.

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and other government buildings, this one belonging to the finance ministry, and apparently in charge of tobacco manufacture.

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and then we were back on familiar ground again, and made out way over a bunch of bridges until we got to the popodopoli park again (sorry, but i just never check my spelling these days.  it might well have a ‘u’ in it, as i have spelled it that way in prior posts).

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our obligatory shot of connor enjoying himself on the playground. this one is the one with the flowers (voicepipes)

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not really sure what this represents, but i liked it

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this is going to look interesting once the vines leaf out

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the back of the frari in the afternoon light

we got home as it was getting dark.  workers were loading up their stuff after a day’s work, using lots of gestures and back-seat driving the guy with the crane.

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tea was with frittelle.  when we stopped to see michela and get our little puffs of creme we discovered that the frittelle  had been shoved to one half of the display case, and ice cream had been set up in the other half.  see?  i told you it was spring.

dinner was leftovers.  i had a bath.  i could hear jim and connor playing outside the bathroom door while i read 40 pages or so and topped up the hot water.  connor was racing down the hall and sliding to a stop at our bed, pushing it every time a little farther toward the windows.  jim was doing the dishes.

now they’re all asleep and i’m finishing this up.  the fog is thicker than ever.  i can hear the whine of a boat around the corner, and there’s a vaporetto coming into the stop across teh grand canal.  i can’t see it, but i can hear the engines straining.  and a couple of hours later, the fog begins to lift.  but i’m not going to wait up for it.

Posted by: jeanne | February 15, 2017

a couple of sick days

when i’m not feeling right, the work really suffers.  in the past two days, we only took 60 photos omg.  but i did drag myself out of bed just to prove i was going to live.  it has been a very ‘interesting’ illness, in the sense of torture, or punishment.  sore throat with dreams.

yesterday was valentine’s day, and we saw a poster over the weekend that said there was going to be a chapter of the one billion women against violence march on lido at 5:30, so we thought we might make it.

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jim and connor got up hours before i did and behaved admirably; jim even took a picture of the palazzo opposite in the glaring sunshine.

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once i got up, i saw a delivery boat outside with a mattress for someone’s home, and had to take a picture.  seems i had a touch of laryngitis, because i could only croak out the first word in a normal tone, and then it all went to whispers.

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then we dragged myself down to rialto market to get fish, celery, garlic, and carrots, and since it’s carnival, there are more than the usual complement of musicians out.  jim followed connor around while i waited to be noticed, and caught him in this contemplative pose by the waterside.

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so while i tried to use sign language to the fishmongers, which worked about as well as my italian – the guy was sure i hadn’t asked to have the fish filleted.  i got an orata this time – sea bream, and then since the vegetables weren’t speaking to me, we went to the conad and bought them there.

then we headed down to sant’elena and connor got to play on the equipment, while i got to-go caffe-latte for both of us, and had them put a restorative and highly medicinal shot of grappa into mine.

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a great dad helped connor with the zipline, and he was finally able to hold on.  he loved it.  then he went for the climbing wall, and successfully negotiated it on his own.  he was very proud of himself.

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and then we went for the vaporetto to lido, hoping to catch the march and see what was going on.  it was approaching low tide, when you can see the bottom.

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when we got to lido, we discovered the remnants of whatever had been scheduled before the march of billions – probably a costume exhibition.

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so i ran around with the camera and got as many of them as i could, because you don’t generally see that many old people in costume  in one place.

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what i liked best were the cellphones.

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and the wrinkles.  and old flesh stuffed into bustiers.

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and how all the women look like sisters.

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except for the young ones.  there weren’t many of those, but at least they were cross-dressing.

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see jim in the background?  he’s still distinctive, even tho he’s not in costume.

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on the phone, lecturing with her finger.  i love it.

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then there was an appearance of the 12 maries.  it’s a carnival institution, and we’ll probably run into them a few times as we go along to the climax of carnival.  probably in more formal dress at some point.  they were here to be introduced to the people of lido, and to stand up for the march against violence against women.  but i’m not sure how up everybody is on the concept, because after a bit of speechifying, they played a feminist pop song i couldn’t identify, and the girls did a gogo routine.

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but at that point i wandered off to take pictures of the sunset, joining all the photographers with huge camera lenses.  it’s really carnival when professional and wannabe professional photographers line up like celebrities in the front row to get their photos.  today i went ahead and joined them in the front row, tho my tiny little camera makes me an amateur.

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and of course connor found a few friends and played until we dragged him away.

this morning i woke up much better, thanks.  and the first thing i saw when i was getting dressed was a hand, floating down the canal with the tide.  i called connor and jim to come see.  it could be a hand.  there are zombies about…

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then we decided to go to mestre to visit the bookshop and go to the panorama store for some things we’re out of, so we walked to piazzale roma.  the sun was so bright that there were really striking reflections under this bridge – usually we can see them, but they don’t photograph well.

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and connor got to play in the popodopouli garden, which we always try to do unless it’s wet.  i brought the three postcards and the leggings for my sister, and managed to actually get them posted, and it wasn’t too horribly expensive.  also, my vaporetto pass stopped working last night at lido, and when i checked it at piazzale roma, it still wasn’t working, so i took it in to the  hello venezia office, and the nice lady checked it for me and said it’s okay.  then, worried that the inspectors wouldn’t be so nice about it (60 euro fine if they catch you without a validated ticket) i went back to ask if she would write something down for me to show them, and she yelled at me.  look, she said, you have your receipt, you have your pass, just show it to them.  well, fine, but what one official says is not necessarily what another one will say, and once you’ve got a fine, you have to pay it, and then try to convince someone that you were not in the wrong.  and good luck; most tourists are back home before something like this can get resolved.  however, it  has worked since then.  so it’s nice to achieve something.

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let’s just leave out the trip to the bookstore, because there wasn’t anything there we were interested in.  and the trip to the shopping center was also nothing to write home about.  we got groceries.  they just barely fit into our rolly cart.  i made sure to get three small loaves of bread, some ham and cheese and we ate our lunch on the tram coming back home.  it was rather hazy, and it was hard to see anything once we got on the causeway.

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but once we got on the vaporetto, we encountered a few cretini, as i heard one local describe them.  dumber than dirt tourists.  like this one, who stood there in the midst of the grand canal taking selfies, many of them.  and then getting his friend to shoot a few photos of him not holding the camera up to his face.

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nice juxtaposition of age and beauty.  like the dames in fancy dress yesterday.

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and guess who with guess who, enjoying the very warm day we turned out to have.  so warm that i ditched my outer jacket and just wore my vest for most of the trip.

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this american tourist decided he felt comfortable sitting on the railing with one foot up, leaning out and taking photos.  but one lurch, one rogue wave, and he would have been in the water.  you just can’t warn people.

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you can tell people are just in from the airport.

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the sun was so strong that i just had to get this badly composed shot.  oh the glare.

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this french girl decided it was okay to sit down, but 30 seconds later the vaporetto guy came and made her get up as he got ready to open the gate on her side.

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and this guy i could hear hacking his lungs out as i came down the calle into campo san aponal.  he’s not even pretending to beg for food, he’s got his nice glass of wine, and he’s bumming cigarettes from every tourist that passed.  you go boy.

Posted by: jeanne | February 14, 2017

the frari and s. rocco

we went out for fish early, but the market isn’t open on mondays.  many things aren’t open on mondays, so we didn’t go visit any museums.  i  made bread.  we watched a helpless family of south american tourists strand themselves in our campiello waiting for an empty taxi to cruise by (they don’t; they wait at dock for people to come up and hire them, or call them on the phone.

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taxi, taxi!

i felt really sorry for them, and went out to tell them so in my nonexistent spanish, but after advising the guy to leave the family there and go find one around the corner on the grand canal, a taxi cruised by having discharged its passengers up our canal away, and after we all yelled ‘taxi’ came to a stop at the edge of the campiello, and they all got in – yay!

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a sight you don’t often see in venice

but after awhile we got cabin fever, so went out to the frari church to see what the fuss is about.  it’s on our combined church/museum pass.

it’s a huge church.

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frari means friars, so it’s an old monastery, with a cloister and all, but the main way i could tell was that there were damned few women depicted anywhere.  all the statues were of men, and some of the art depicted scenes of death and torture, not the kind of things you find in churches dedicated to mary…in fact, the church is dedicated to the assumption, which is all about mary being taken up to heaven.  but you couldn’t tell by the interior.

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it’s an enormous church.  the ceiling was a million feet high, the columns were way bigger around than my frittelle-expanded waist.  people were dwarfed by the size of the place.

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the titian altarpiece that made his reputation

but there wasn’t all that much in it.

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to tell you the truth, i enjoyed the little everyday details more than the  monuments

a bunch of enormous statues, a gigantic choir.  no seats, tho.

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connor making another friend in front of the gilded choir

except for a few rows of wooden pews up near the alter, the floor was empty, some folding seats piled against the walls out of the way and out of sight.

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bellini tryptich

but everything was marvelously worked, very fine sculptures, exquisite marquetry, gold leaf everywhere.

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a sansovino sculpture connor is honoring with ring around the rosie

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and a nice wellhead in the cloister, which was unfortunately closed to public access, except thru windows.

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a pieta by someone only a few years younger than myself

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once connor saw this anatomically incorrect fellow, he went around being a zombie

once we’d had enough of that we decided to go see the scuola of san rocco, which is only around the corner.  but first we stopped into the church of san rocco, a very small church at the back of the frari, where there are regular pews all the way up, and the usual paintings you can’t see very well, and statues of saints blah blah blah.

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a pious pope, the tenth one

there was one very modern (early 20th) painting of pope pius x, who was a very conservative pope who resisted the modernization of the catholic rituals, but was also a marian, which isn’t all bad.

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jesus making light work of vendors without permits

there were other paintings showing torture and death as well.  why such an emphasis on something we as a species should be growing away from?  it’s disheartening.

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from the steps of san rocco, to the right is scuola san rocco, the frari to the right

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nice skull.  note the homer simpson t-shirt underneath

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sorry to be so tastless as to put him under the homer simpson…

then we came back home and jim and i took a nap.  connor got to play minecraft.  when we got up, we had tea and frittelle, and then the boys went to san marco to see if there are any costumed people posing.  part of the reason we’re here at carnival is to get lots of photos of posed costumers, and they general show up at dawn and dusk, partly because of the light, partly because of the lesser crowds.  it’s been dark for an hour now, so i’m expecting them back pretty soon.  then we’ll have more chicken and tortellini, and turn in early as usual.  if there are posers down at san marco this evening, then jim intends to get up before dawn and go back down there.  i’ll let you know.

ps there is nobody out taking costume pictures yet; we’ll wait until this weekend.

 

Posted by: jeanne | February 13, 2017

parade down rio cannaregio

after some horrifyingly intense dreams reminiscent of terminator, i got up to fresh coffee and connor chafing to tell me his dream. but first jim had to tell his dream, and then hear mine, and after that connor’s dream sounded more like a movie, with zombies and captain america. we always listen, but i’m not sure he has the concept of dream analysis straight yet.

all the cameras and spare batteries were packed into the backpack, along with a hat and coat for connor, and i had made him wear leggings and extra layers because were planning to be standing around in the shadows for several hours. jim gets to wear the backpacks. i usually take the big camera, but its weight has been hurting my neck and giving me headaches, and i’m quite alarmed at my fragility.

we left at 10 and took the short way to riva de biasio, which runs thru campo giacomo dell’orio. we passed a small group of american tourists, whom connor accosted with ‘why aren’t you speaking italian?’ they were lost and trying to get to ferrovia, the train station, so i used the venetian joke on them – just go straight – and then pointed them to a bridge off the campo, tho at that point all streets lead to ferrovia. again, despite the mazelike structure of the streets, there are really only a few through ways, and once you’ve been down them you go without thinking about it, cutting corners and passing people like a local.

we were there quickly. there was nobody else there, so we picked the best-feeling spot and set up. i attached the backpack to the railing, we put on the zoom lens, we told another bunch of americans who were looking at the crowds on the other side of the river that there was going to be a parade, and pointed out our alternative spot in case they wanted to brave the crowds and go over there (they didn’t have a zoom lens). and then i realized i had forgotten to bring the little silver camera. but it was only 10:30, still half an hour before the official start of the parade, so i walked back home, leaving jim and connor by the side of the grand canal. of course they’d be okay.

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at the start the vaporetti and alilaguna boats still cruised the canal, but not later

i went home, passing some american guys who were saying how they’d like to go to greece, but one arguing that americans weren’t well liked there at the moment. i laughed; america isn’t liked anywhere at the moment, but they would probably like them personally because that’s how it worked. they were shocked to find a stranger listening and responding to what they were openly discussing. it amuses me.

it only took ten minutes to get home and grab the camera and spare batteries, and ten more minutes to get across the city back to jim and connor, who had collected a bit of a crowd, including an italian family from somewhere else who had come to venice for carnival.

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connor took this photo of the family next to us at the railing

he had been in florida with his family, so we talked about atlanta, and i gave my usual response to the political scene there, pulling my usual face and giving my usual gestures. their boy played with connor during the entire time we were there. i stopped and bought connor the cat mask he had been asking for, not hesitating to bargain with the guy in the shop.

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connor on a rampage

even tho the whole thing started at 11, it was mainly some guy on a loudspeaker somewhere on the rio cannaregio that started, while the canal remained empty of boats. there were several police boats at the mouth of the canal, warding off traffic. the vaporetti that usually go up and down that canal had to turn around in the middle of the grand canal and go back – why don’t they just interrupt the schedule and go around the other way, i wondered.

the crowd around us grew. mostly italians, but i was ever unsure about whether they were locals or tourists like us. an ambulance came by, casting a wake up over the side of our embankment, and i was filming its impact on the steps and trying to tell connor to get his coat out of the way when it got splashed – he was saying ‘what?’ at that moment. i had forgotten that my gopro was down on the istrian stones just outside the railing, and it got a little wet, but it was fine in its waterproof housing, yay.

jim and i had a disagreement about which way the boats would come. he remembered them coming from the grand canal and up the rio, and i remembered them coming from the north side down the rio. our argument became public when various tourists understood what we were saying and told the people around them. it seems nobody was certain which way they would come.

but finally we heard music and the police launches moved slowly out of the way of the mouth of the canal, and a giant rat came into view. a boat dressed up as a rat. the rat is the mascot of venice. jim has a t-shirt that shows a rat’s outline, and says ‘venice at night’ because rats used to take over at night. and there were many more cats about too. but now there are boxes of rat poison everywhere, and that has probably done for the cats as well.

the boats came, from the grand canal (i lost that bet). jim had the big camera and i had the other two, and we did our duty.

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connor’s wearing his cat mask, and the old man in the wheelchair is watching the parade, while the italian family not from venice takes the same photos we’re taking

connor continued to play with the kid, tho the kid’s parents wanted him to watch the parade, so the playing was stifled. and the crowd pressed around us. a hard object bumped my leg, and i found a guy in a wheelchair and his wife, who took momentary interest in connor and his mask, and then watched the parade with enjoyment.

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the rat that opens the parade every time

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the pink ladies in the foreground.  i would be with them if we lived here

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the winged lion of san marco

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the white bits on the red boat are reflections of sunlight on the water

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jim and i independently got numerous shots of this guy’s energetic rowing

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there was a real logjam of boats waiting to get under the bridge.  some have shipped their oars in a sort of ritual motion

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it must be difficult to do the tango on a boat

it wasn’t all that long. for the wait, it was sort of anticlimactic. we were very grateful to not have been on the other side of the canal and having to deal with all those crowds.

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back to normal on the grand canal

we were actually the last ones to leave the riva, and we sauntered slowly home past a duo of musicians with guitar and fiddle that we made sure to give some money to.

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no straight lines anywhere in venice

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locals in campo dell’orio

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i want to paint this next

from where we were, the road to campo san polo (our apartment) was the same length as the one to campo dei frari (frittelle), so we got frittelle. connor spent the whole trip insisting that michela wouldn’t recognize him with his cat mask on, and was careful to whisk if off as he entered the store. she wasn’t able to give him the usual mess of big hugs this time, because not only was the owner standing around, but there was a line at the window, because it’s carnival, and everybody has frittelle during carnival (and then it disappears once lent starts).

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our frittelle shop

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the first actual bike we’ve seen in venice, belongs to a guy from spain. did he ride here?

and then home, a great long nap for me, connor and his kindle, jim and his drawing. and then frittelle and tea, and now chicken for dinner. tomorrow we’re going to see some art.

ps, i forgot to include this earlier in the post, but the italian guy not from venice who was next to us during the parade, the one whose son played with connor, insisted when jim told him about seeing shiny silver fish in the canal next to ours, that there were no fish in the canals in venice. hah. as we got to our campiello after the parade, we saw seagulls next to the istrian stones. the largest had a fish on the pavement. he’d just finished killing it with his beak (there was blood everywhere), and as connor and i watched (jim lagging behind as usual), the seagull started with the head of the fish – a good 10″ long fish – and gulped it down inch by inch until he swallowed the tail. we approached him until he flew away, still arching his neck to get it all down, and his neck was distended with the body of the fish. wow. and last night, in the dead quiet that is venice when the boats aren’t passing, i heard a plop that was a bird diving into the water, and then maybe two seconds later, a flap of wings hitting the water as he took off again. and a couple of seconds after that, a squacco squawked from his perch on high. so there are plenty of fish in this sea.

Posted by: jeanne | February 12, 2017

omg it’s carnival!

i’ve been sick for the last few days, and that’s brought my average photo count down.  i usually take anywhere from 125 to 950 shots every time we go out on a three hour tour;  i’ve got 10,000 photos so far, and we’re only halfway through our travels.

while being sick, the gas technician came back to fix the boiler, so i got up and did some things – brought in the laundry half-damp and laid it out on the rack near the radiator to finish drying, swept the floors, mopped up after the massive amount of soot the technician tracked all over the kitchen.  but then i rewarded myself with my first hot bath – what a luxury.  enough dead skin to start a garden.  two top-ups and 40 pages into a book.

afterwards, connor, trying to help, disassembled the bathroom sink plug and dropped the stopper into place, leaving the spacer on the shelf.  a nice tight fit.  so there was no getting it out, not with fingernails, knife points or sewing needles.  i had to wait until today and fish out the pipe wrench and take the pipes apart under the sink, then use the handy-dandy wire coathanger to push the stopper out of place from below.  then, as it always is with home repairs, i found that i had reattached the pipes wrong, so the thingie didn’t go up and down at all, so i had to take it off and put it back on several times until it was all better.  connor got a talking to, but how do you tell a five year old not to bother helping?

today i felt enough better to go out, so we went to the fish market first thing and got a pound of shrimp.  locals get noticed first by the fishmongers, and if you try to say something they ask you to wait.  (likewise locals can get on the vaporetti before everybody has disembarked, but if you’re a tourist following on the heels of locals you get waved back and yelled at.  oh well.)

once we got back, i went back to bed for awhile and then we left the house in time to miss our cleaning lady.  it appears that cleaning by a professional is included in our rent, so i went around and cleaned everything up before she got there, and then we went on an aimless wander.

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our first clue, a tourist walking back and forth jingling her bells and looking to see who was looking

it being a saturday, there were more people out than usual.  that was our first clue.  prices have risen in the tourist shops overnight, even tho half of them are still running sales signs in the windows.  while i was home in bed a bunch of ice cream shops have opened, and even on campo san polo there’s a brand new merry go round for infants and a brand new ice cream shop that they must have brought in piece by piece on a boat and assembled in place.

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the old folks don’t care much about carnival

we started seeing masks right away.  kind of cute, seeing people sporting little sparkly cat masks over their down jackets and wool scarves.  we turned down streets based on the following:  lack of tourist crowds, likelihood of wellheads, streets we probably haven’t been down.

since jim isn’t recognizably american in his dress, people find him exotic.  several times in the past photographers have stopped him to take pictures of him, and today they were out in force.  i was getting shots of a couple in 18th century dress  (sort of, with hoop skirts so 19th century), while some guy was getting shots of jim.

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and then when we were on top of a bridge someone else stopped him to get a shot.  and then on top of another bridge someone didn’t even bother asking but just raised her camera and snapped away.  i never got the chance to get a photo of anybody doing this, but we were both mightily amused.  jim the authentic photogenic dude.

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locals stopping for a drink of prosecco.  i heard one of them assure someone on the phone that they were at work at that very moment

before we knew it, we were in santa croce, heading for the grand canal.  we kept avoiding it by turning down different streets, but in the end we landed on the riva de biasio, right across from the mouth of the rio cannaregio, where a parade starts off the festivities tomorrow at 11.  there’s a to-do on the same canal this evening, but we don’t do night things here, simply because we’re early to bed and late to risers.

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this piece of graffiti was there two years ago, still perservering

while we were on riva de biasio, we looked at our options for photographing tomorrow’s parade.  we stood right next to the canal last time, and got some really good shots, but we hated the crowds, so we considered setting up on the riva with the telephoto, the little silver camera, and the gopro.

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our view from riva de biasio, plus wine bottles

and then we wondered if the edge of the church at the corner of the canal wouldn’t be a good place, so we headed back to the second bridge over the canal, the one leading most directly to the train station, and made our way to the bridge over rio cannaregio.  this was difficult.  there were lots of crowds.  lots of people in masks, lots of fresh tourists with rolly bags, troppi turisti cazzo.  and loads of police.

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jim had noticed army guys with submachine guns 30 yards back

but we persisted.  as we left the crowds and went along the riva to the church yard, we could hear shouts and cheers along the road we’d left.  we had a good look at the spot.

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this church is under renovation.  what splendid decrepitude

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the view from the church yard where we decided not to stand

it was a good one, with a good view, but even if it was not going to be packed with people for the parade, getting there was going to be a big hassle.

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beautiful and cheap reproductions of some of the wall insets in venice

i remember last time, when it was acqua alta, and people were forced to use the passarelle, which further constricted traffic.  no way are we going to do that again.  and passing thru the crowds this afternoon just reinforced it.  so we’ll head out tomorrow around 10, make our way on foot to the riva opposite the canal, and set up in good time to catch the big rat that heads the parade.  not a marching parade, as we told connor just now; a parade of boats.

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typical crap that passes for street art here – note the same clouds everywhere

our decision made, i consulted with jim (vaporetto home or the rialto bridge) and we thus continued to strada nova.  more crowds.

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all this traffic backed up just to cross a bridge

i had to hold connor’s hand the whole way.

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strada nova in full bloom – it wasn’t like this last week AT ALL

it was possible for the first time to take pictures of people in the crowd without feeling like i was stealing their souls.  people actually stopped and posed so that i could take their pictures, and once i spotted a gaggle of americans at a cafe, all decked out in pink, and asked if i could take their photos.  they were so pleased.

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i just loved the snow boots, so stopped them for photos

and another time i wandered down a street to find a wellhead, and found a couple in costume taking selfies and pictures of each other, so i included them in my photos of the wellhead.

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no sooner were we on strada nova proper than we encountered a zombie parade.

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authentic zombie blood.  i hope

there were hundreds of them, and they were spectacularly decked out and made up.

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there’s jim on the other side of the street, trapped

connor, of course, was off on a raised campo with a statue, chasing other kids around, so he missed the actual parade, but once i could cross the street and yell for him, he came and saw the stragglers, and even managed to get up close to one couple for a photograph.  everyone in the crowd laughed to see his face.  it was a joyous moment.  i haven’t laughed in weeks.   (speaking of laughter, have you seen this one by john cleese?)

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the guy’s tongue and his eating of entrails freaked connor out

we passed an artist sitting by the side of the road; that’s not so unusual.  what was unusual was that his work was pretty good.  most of the tourist paintings you see in venice are pretty amateur looking, some are really cringeworthy.  but this guy did night scenes well, which is amazingly hard.  so i whipped out my camera, but before i could get a clear view – lots of tourists – he signaled nonono with big gestures, and then rose from his seat to come tell us.  we’d already decided to go speak to him, to tell him we are artists.  he replied, you are artists? then draw me.  that’s a challenge we can’t pass up, so jim sat down opposite the guy, took his board and a pencil, and sketched the guy while connor and i stood around, amused, and a whole bunch of people stopped by to look amused and take photos (the guy didn’t wave them off).  we remarked how his work was very nice, not like some, and he said he was a teacher of art at the academy (which academy?), and we all noded sagely.  teachers.  in about ten minutes jim was done with his sketch.  the guy thought it was unfair that jim made him look old, because he was insisting he felt as young as connor (i placed him anywhere between late 40s and early 50s.  the paintings were signed ASAS).

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then he took a photo of jim, we gave him our card, and he asked us where we were from.  as we take every opportunity to assure people that we are not in favor of the current regime, we were happy to tell him we’re from atlanta, and he (inevitably) asked with a worried tone what we thought of current affairs.  we expressed out horror and he looked relieved.  everyone in the world is scared about what’s going on at home; we feel it our duty to reassure them that not the entire country has gone insane.  just those in control.

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this is what happens to bricks, even covered by stucco, when exposed to salt water

after this we walked the rest of strada nova, me looking for the cioccocenter where i’m supposed to be able to buy fernet menta (a great stomachic).  but tho i’ve been down that street three times now, i have not seen it again.  perhaps it’s gone. when we went to the one on ria garibaldi, the lady said they don’t have it anymore because something in italian that i can’t remember and couldn’t understand at the time.  so i may be out of luck, but now i’ll start going into little candy shops.

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we can’t figure out where the church opens to the street.  the bell tower leans a lot

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even the zombies use vapes

and then we were around the corner from the rialto bridge, the crush having gotten really annoying.  there aren’t any side streets to go down here; anything that doesn’t go to rialto bridge ends in a doorway or courtyard.  so we barged on, moving like water around people clotted in front of stores.  and so over the bridge (nicely cleaned up in time for carnival), and into the back streets to stroll slowly home to our dinner of shrimp and rice.  the cleaner did a spectacular job, and even found a spoon that we must have lost our very first days here.  yay!

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a very low tide next to our local coop store

i’m dealing with hell at home, so there’s a lot of writing, corresponding, looking up my legal rights, and trying to figure out how to save the situation without finding my house burned down when i get home.  so that took a lot out of me.  but writing about our day made everything bright again, and i’m ready for our bedtime story and off to bed.  i still have to process some of the 308 photos i took today in order to illustrate this post, so you won’t be able to read it until tomorrow when you get up.  it’s been one hell of a full moon/eclipse.  i hope everybody weathered it with as much humor as possible.

Posted by: jeanne | February 9, 2017

doge’s palace

omg the doge’s palace.

we started out taking the vaporetto to san marco, because we knew we’d be walking all afternoon.

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we actually started out going to the rialto fish market for a pound (un mezzo chilo) of mixed fish, which included salmon, something solid that starts with a g (i can never remember it) and razza (which might mean ray).  the fish guy looked at connor and warned me that there are bones.  connor was over by the guys doing the filetting and desperately wanted me to come look at a baby shark, one among several in a box nearby.  he probably wanted me to look at other things as well.  when the guys saw him hovering around their table they took the huge knife and moved it out of his way.  smart guys.

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look how they make brooms here

anyway, it was so warm out that only jim buttoned his jacket and wore his gloves.  since we haven’t spent much time in san marco this trip, we aren’t sure if the tourist numbers have increased much.  it’s still a couple days before the carnival festivities begin, and so far there are no costumed figures yet.  but the canareggio parade is on sunday, so here we go again.

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a dog enjoying the hell out of his boat ride

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a chinese girl wrapped up against the wind and cracking jokes with her friends

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connor doing his best to be good

since we bought a pass, they just waved us in and told us to see the nice lady at the booth.  jim cracked some joke about having left his weapons at home as the guards wanded us.  i had words with him about that.  it’s not funny anymore.

then we were in the courtyard of the doge’s palace.  it’s a lovely courtyard, surrounded as it is by the magnificence of the building itself, with statues of giants in one corner, overlooked by the splendiferousness of the domes of san marco itself, and all that marble.

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close up of the wellhead

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courtyard’s giant statues

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each of the steps up to the giants is decorated with a different pattern

connor had a great time chasing and being chased by one kid in particular.

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and as we proceeded to the entrance, we spotted an entire gaggle of americans lining up for a group photo.  we usually avoid americans, but these folks were happy and smiling and having a great time, and there was one guy who looked just like jim – they could have been brothers.  so after they finished taking their group picture, i caught the eye of the guy with the beard and motioned the two of them together to take a picture.  everybody else had the same idea, and for a moment the two of them were stars.  one guy in the crowd called them abraham and moses.  turns out they’re a church group from all over.  abraham is from new york.  they shook hands and posed some more, and we shared some brotherly love.  i got choked up.

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then they all moved off for their lecture from the tour guide, and we collected connor and moved off to the entrance.  the doge’s apartments were off-limits because of a special exhibit being staged, thank god.

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first we climbed stairs to the loggia.  it was impressive.

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this is where you turn in your friends, neighbors, and family.  and then they disappear, because nobody wants to admit they made a mistake

and then we climbed up the scala d’oro, the stairs of gold.  they weren’t, of course, they were istrian stone or marble, but the ceiling of the stairs was liberally covered with gold leaf, an assault (i mean a feast) for the eyes.  lots of inset paintings, lots of gold-leafed plaster stucco (unless i’m wrong about the plaster part and it’s really carved marble – i couldn’t take in the explanatory placards).

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notice the relief carving of a woman with all the things growing out of her head

i was overwhelmed from the start.

at the top of the stairs we got to look out on the houses opposite, thru some very old glass.  we noticed that someone had etched their name in the glass way back in the 18th century.  two someones, at different times, with an attempt that was apparently foiled by some guard during some century – only the letters TO were scratched into one pane.  graffitti.  not the last we would see there.  probably nobody else noticed it.

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connor of course was ahead of us, climbing the vast stairs like he was crawling up a wall (he did have his spiderman t-shirt on under his jacket), bumping down the stairs on his butt, talking with every tourist who would engage him on the way.  we lagged behind.

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i guess it had better be plaster; nobody wants a real marble statue on the ceiling

i found a carving in the lintel of the beginning of the third flight of stairs (a flight, a landing, another flight, a turn, then a final flight up to the piano nobile), a woman’s spread-eagle figure being fecundated by an earthen phallus, her head sprouting about 10 feet of vine with all sorts of dependencies and fruits.  genitals scratched in as well.  how cute.  winkies everywhere, and now this.  i ask you; venice.  or was it just the times?

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so there we were on the piano nobile, which is the huge grand space in palazzi where the families lived over their shops and the ceilings were as high as possible in order to cool the house during the summer (and freeze it out during the winter but never mind).  we came out on the loggia, a balcony that ran right the way along the side of the building, with floors that sloped outwards and dipped toward rainspouts.  it went on forever.  from the loggia we entered into a room.

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omg what a room.  i don’t even remember the rooms at this point, only the photos will show me where i was.

d7267a92f839b73272bef7598b6539d7 good luck reading this plan

i took over 700 photos during our visit today, slightly more than usual.  jim might want to paint a carnival scene in the doge’s palace, so i was careful to get every usable angle, and take a photo of anything interesting.

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jim got to explain quite a few things to connor

there was art and more art.  all by the most important italian painters of the time – veronese, tintoretto, etc etc etc.

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there was high relief carving all over the ceilings.

there were greyscale paintings made to look like sculpture all over the ceilings.

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there were inset paintings all over the ceilings, never mind the ones in frames on the walls.

there were terrazzo floors.

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there was dark panelling and dark heavy furniture.  there were huge windows, mostly covered to dim the light enough to see the paintings, which were also lit by banks of portable lights that kept getting in the way of photos.

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the place burned, and so they rebuilt it

the rooms kept getting grander and more imposing.  overwhelming.  jim just looked.  i took photos.  connor ran from room to room looking for someone to talk to.  because we’d bribed him with a trip to sant’elena to play on the playground, he was being good, sitting in the guard’s chairs because every bench on the wall had a no sitting sign, and every heavy wooden chair had a rope in front of it.

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sitting in this chair, you can feel the floor bounce up and down as people cross the room

we didn’t exactly wander, because the traffic was directed, but the path was a wandering one, going from room to room, each room with a different state function, inhabited by a different council of however many that had something to do with the government of venice.  the room of the council of ten, in particular, struck us, because we’ve been reading a novel featuring the ruthless, bloodthirsty ways of this council, who judged and ordered the imprisonment and death of anybody who they determined was acting against the state.

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fancy that, a bunch of rich white men conspiring by means fair and fowl to retain, consolidate, and increase their own power.  venice is such a metaphor for what’s going on now.

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now why would they put a fertility symbol on a helmet?

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the most magnificent room was the huge grand salon where the thousands of minor i guess you’d call representatives hung out, was the one that broke the camel’s back.  it’s larger than a football field, the ceilings are way on up there, and the largest oil painting in the world adorns the far wall looking like someone threw a bunch of popcorn on it years ago, and it stuck.  seriously, this place makes versaille look like a warehouse.

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jim just wandered around.  connor found some tourists who spoke excellent english and they ended up playing spiderman together.  i finally sat down on the benches that weren’t marked don’t sit and closed my eyes to get rid of the total excess of decoration.

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jim’s verdict:  obnoxious.  i was just overwhelmed.  omfg.

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and then we crossed over into the prison.

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what a contrast.  we could feel the cold as we stepped onto the bridge of sighs.  this is named rather romantically for the sigh the condemned gave as they spied the outside world for the last time thru these tiny little windows.  the bridge of sighs is where i finally found out how to use the manual focus so the camera wouldn’t zoom in on the bars and would let me actually take a picture of the world outside.  sigh of relief here.

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the prison was cold.  it was barren.  it was narrow and low ceilinged.

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there were heavy dark iron bars reminiscent of the furniture in the palace, but there was no furniture (except for one room with wooden bedsteads), and no art (except for the prisoner’s art lounge where bits of graffiti and scratched-in drawings had been peeled off the walls and set in cases on display).

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there was nothing but white stone.  and not the polished, carefully fitted stone you see everywhere in venice, but rough-hewn and weathered by feet and backsides over the centuries.

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the doors were dark and heavy, with bars and locks and straps and hatches.

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the rooms were lit only by electric lights, with now and then a window in the corridor sometimes only visible from within the cells thru a circular stone hole where presumably the golden goblets on golden plates were passed thru to the guests (wait, that’s the palace – i mean where slop was passed thru in wooden or terra cotta bowls and cups).

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it was cold.  jim got chilled right away, and tho i was raring to explore the entire thing, he wanted to get back out to the warmth of the palace, and, really, get back out to the courtyard, where presumably the sun was still shining (such is the lot of anybody trapped inside that prison).  connor had already gone down the stairs that said uscita (exit).  but i saw a stairway going down, and had spied a wellhead in a courtyard, so i left him there to go down with connor and wait for me, and descended into hell.

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no, into another range of cells with dark, cold, damp, claustraphobic cells and corridors.  and came out into the courtyard with the wellhead.  and then back into the prison on the other side and thru more corridors.  i saw some stairs going up, and was halfway up them when i realized that they must not go where i left jim and connor, and so went back down and retraced mysteps, only to find connor racing toward me, yelling.  and then he raced back to grandpa to let him know he’d found me.  and so i rejoined the living, and we didn’t go back the way connor had found, but back over the bridge of sighs and back into the doge’s palace.

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there were more rooms of splendor, but we didn’t pay much attention, and finally got to the exit (thru the giftshop).  then thru the cafeteria, which is set on the ground floor and features simple brick walls and barrel ceilings, and 3 euro coffee (thrice the price of elsewhere in venice.  of course).

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thru the bottle glass windows you can see sant’elena, quite distorted

and then we were out.  yay!  i was exhausted from so much looking.  even connor’s feet hurt, but not enough to go straight home.  we’d promised him sant’elena, so we took a vaporetto to our old stomping grounds, and he played on the playground while jim sat in the nearby cafe and drank a caffe latte, and i sat on the playground with mine.

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you can see our ex-house in the distance, the red and white one.  we lived on the ground floor

all too soon it was time to go, tho it was still lunchtime, and the shutters of the shops were still closed.  i had wanted to go up to via garibaldi and find the candy shop that i know for a fact is still there, but we needed to get home right away.  it was that overwhelming.

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the day had turned colder and breezy, so i sent connor and jim back to sit in the cabin while i stood on deck, as usual.  the sun was going behind a cloud, and the clearness of the scene was dimmed.

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the vaporetto reflected in the pontoon vaporetto stop

then while connor got a bath and jim sat down and waited for the water to boil, i went off for fritelle, and we had tea.  and then a couple of hours later, i made polenta and sauteed onion, celery and carrot, added a splash of wine and tomato sauce, and tossed in the fish.  then dealing with the photos.  then putting connor to bed and reading our bedtime story.  now the boys sleep peacefully while i’m up writing this.  in the morning i’ll resize some photos, and publish the post sometime in the afternoon back home, so it stands a chance of being read by people who actually know us.

tomorrow is another day.  hopefully we will stay home.  i have a sore throat, and suspect that i’m getting sick.  we’ll see.

Posted by: jeanne | February 8, 2017

two days

two days reported together, because boy things are certainly moving along quickly right now (today we went to the doge’s palace for a total of 785 photos – i’ll have to tell about that tomorrow).

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pigeons at the living room window. funny, we only feed them from the kitchen

the rain finally stopped. the first day (monday i believe) it was still pretty wet, so we went out in our rain gear. but it was for naught, and we got rather hot at one point. first, of course, we went to the market.

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i saw a tourist taking a picture of this place, and they were right

the day before, connor had lost his gloves, so against jim’s advice we went back to the acqua alta bookstore to see if they were still there. i had seen them lying around when he went to pet the cats, and told him to put them in his pocket, but i guess he ignored me and left them there. there was hell to pay later when i discovered he no longer had them. i would have just gone on forever without them, as a lesson to connor (hah!), but that would have meant buying him a new pair, so we went back for them. i taught him how to say my gray gloves (i miei guanti grigi), but he said ‘can i pet the cats’ when he got to the shop, and so i ended up asking for them. there they were, and so we left the shop with them, connor still demanding to pet the cats, who were nowhere to be found.

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sometimes the bridges run together

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they get really creative with masks around carnival time

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stopping to take a photo of the wellhead we stumbled upon, i bent over to relieve an ache in my back, and ended up all sweaty and dizzy, so we went and sat in a cafe and had caffe lattes that cost us 4.50 apiece. if it hadn’t been medicinal…

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in campo santi giovanni e paolo connor found some friends, but this girl was really mean, and tried to run over all the guys in the campo. some of her friends were starting to back connor into a wall, so we moved on.

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after the rain everything looks really crisp and clean (for an old and dirty city that is)

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jim went off with the camera while i rested over my coffee. he loves this church

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in front of the church of the miracles wrre a mess of kids playing wellhead with their umbrellas while their moms stood around talking or on their phones

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there are starting to be a lot of costumes in the windows so close to carnival

then we went along to strada nova so i could finally get those fernet mints i love so much. connor was much improved after running it off, and i felt much better also, so we kept going. alas, the shop was either gone or closed for the afternoon (even tho it was after 4 by this time).

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this shop front drew connor’s attention. We’re reading him fairy tales every night

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as it got dark, we headed for the vaporetto, but made a slight wrong turn and ended up in the casino. well, not in it, we didn’t meet the dress code. but we loitered around the entrance long enough to capture a nice wellhead and a lovely statue. the light was gone at this point, but our camera is a real trouper.

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that’s the moon. first time we’ve seen it in about a week

the next day, the sun finally came out, and we shed all pretense of foul-weather gear, and strolled about in our regular clothes. it’s getting warmer now that we’re into february, and i spent our time out with my jacket open and my gloves off.

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when you have a 24 hour clock, you only need one hand to tell the time. this is the oldest church in venice, at rialto. it’s a music hall now

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we had to go back to the bovolo, because i have almost run out of my turmeric and ginger paste that i use in everything, and a little organic shop around the corner is the only place that has turmeric (that i have found, in 2 years). so we got to campo manin, where the big lion is, and connor amused himself for ten minutes or so while jim and i went around taking photos of all the amusing things in the campo. like the water door below.

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when we got to the bovolo, it was half an hour before they closed for lunch, so we decided to wander around. turns out this is a part of town i have wandered thru alot, mostly arriving mysteriously at some place i knew, from some place i didn’t. today was no exception.

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first we went down the street of the assassins, which has a nice bookstore and many remaindered books at a discount. connor found a set of passarelle, which he considers to be landlocked vaporetti, and jumps up onto, races along, and jumps off every time he finds them.

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then we found palazzo fortuny (i like the back of the palace better, as it’s still old and dirty, while the front is all dolled up). a lady came by the front of palazzo fortuny while we were setting up to photograph the wellhead in the raised campo in front of it, and tho i took a photo of her, i came back to take a photo of the pigeons that were very glad to see her sandwich.

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and then we found a nice courtyard with an unexpected wellhead. it was actually an open door that we just waltzed on into (bad tourists).

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then, around the corner, the head of a canal. the water at this end was barely inches deep, and had all sorts of things sticking into the mud. men come down there to pee on the steps all the time, and it was pretty stinky, so we didn’t hang around. the heads of canals are always kind of strange and creepy to me.

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there was another gate with another courtyard, and i had to stick my camera lens into the space between the bars in order to take this photo. but i really love the look of the place, and might well paint it next.

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around the back of palazzo fortuny there’s this wonderful garden, with a wellhead and palm trees and vines growing up the house. i don’t know how many times i’ve photographed it.

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then i spotted a grocery store that i remembered from last time, and we went in to find oatmeal (italians apparently have no use for oats), and black rice. this store has many things that other stores don’t carry. i forget the name of it, as i always forget exactly where it is. the fairies must remove it when my back is turned. and this lovely courtyard was right over the bridge from it, with this lovely wellhead inside the courtyard. some sort of government building.

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and then we were at the courtyard that i have painted before, that jim didn’t remember until i described the doorway in the corner, which was open the last time we were there, revealing a woodworker’s studio. if we’d spoken any italian last time, we would have talked to him. this time, the door was closed.

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and it was past two. i could tell from my grocery receipt (i keep forgetting my phone at home, and have no map, and no idea of the time). so we returned to the bovolo, paid our 6 euros apiece, and walked on up.

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and up.

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and up some more.

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connor, of course, raced to the top ahead of us, and jim lagged behind.

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but i had the camera, so i stopped at every angle, every floor, and took photos of the stonework, the houses opposite, the little campiello at the foot of the stairs.

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at the almost top we went in to a gallery not very filled with not very good paintings – a cross section of typical venetian artwork, according to the written material.

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the ceiling beneath the top gallery and the real ceiling

i liked the architecture and pretty much ignored the paintings. jim, of course, studied the paintings. this one is only a go-by for the largest oil painting in the world, which we saw today at the doge’s palace (to be described).

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then it was up to the very top. you need handrails to go up this stair, and they got creative making the handrails fit. i love italian sensibilities.

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after taking photos of absolutely everything visible from the top gallery, we started down, but the sun came out suddenly, so i let the boys continue down, and marched (dragged myself) back up to the top and shot everything again. it was that different.

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the real roof

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that’ll be san marco’s domes just visible, and the campanile prominent on the skyline

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jim and connor clowning around waiting for me to get done

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the real roof, made of lead as are so many of the rooftops in venice

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back to the bottom, and my last task was to photograph each wellhead for jim’s collection

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we finally got to the campiello with the wellhead and stairs that you can see from rialto market, the one we tried to get to the other day. the restaurant is closed for maintenance, however, so i wasn’t tempted to stay for lunch or happy hour

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we found these silver canes on the rialto bridge. i thought the price was 12.50 hahaha

so that was two days and 700 or so photos, nothing to what i took in a single afternoon during our visit to the doge’s palace, coming up next.

Posted by: jeanne | February 6, 2017

i love rain

as the forecast was for steady rain all of sunday and monday, of course the moon and stars came out last night.  it’s the first we’ve seen of the moon because of the palazzo across from us, so it was strange to find a light coming thru our bedroom window in the middle of the night.  that means perhaps we’ll be able to see the eclipse on friday.

but what it meant last night was that we took full advantage of the lack of rain early this morning.  we went out.  clothed in water boots and raincoats, with the backpack on jim’s back and his hood out and ready to cover his beret.

we decided to return to the acqua alta bookstore to buy the second installment of the author jim has been reading.  he noticed it there when he bought the first one, and i looked them up and found out they are open on sunday.  so after a quick breakfast, we took off.

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a bakery on the way to rialto has these wonderful cast-chocolate objects

first over the rialto bridge,

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and then thru the warrens until campo san lio, where i had to check to see if i was going in the right direction, while connor made an instant friend and was very resentful about having to move on.

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but then he met these belgian kids in campo santa maria formosa and played soccer with them while jim made the rounds of the wellheads for a few minutes.

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then we were at the bookstore.  connor said, i know this place, and rushed in to find the cats.  the owner was there this time, looking a little the worse for wear (he said he was getting better), and the cats were much calmer because of him, and let connor pet them.

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jim got his book, and we left, because the rain was coming.  connor was a little resentful that he couldn’t climb the book stairs again, but we needed to get home because of the rain.

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but it wasn’t there yet, so we decided to go the long way home.  i actually wanted to make it to strada nuova to visit the candy store where i can get my favorite mints (with fernet branca!), so we headed up to campo santi giovanni e paolo.

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cigarette labels are quite graphic here.  smoking damages your lungs – yes, that’s blood

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san michele, the cemetery island, looks like it’s very close, but it’s a boat ride away

jim decided he liked the look of the wellhead against the houses on the other end of the campo, across the canal.

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it’s a wide open space that would look very good as the backdrop for a large painting full of carnival figures.

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connor, the zombie.  people turned and stared

connor decided he needed to go play on the railings of the scuola once again, and somehow lost his gloves.

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he was very resentful about that for some blocks down the road.

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and then it started to sprinkle, as we got to campo santa maria nova, so instead of wandering toward strada nova, we took the turn that led us back to rialto.

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it hardly shows in the photo, but the canal cast a green light on the vault of the bridge

people had their umbrellas up by this time, and things were beginning to get slippery, so after two wrong alleys trying to get us to campiello remer, with the lovely external stairway and wellhead (and a taverna with both a lunch buffet and a happy hour!), jim decided enough was enough, and we crossed the bridge.

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this is where boats tie up to deliver to rialto market.  look at the damage to the steps

a brief stop at the coop store for milk, and we were home, just after 1.  and then the rain picked up, and we stayed in for the rest of the day.

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since it’s supposed to rain again tomorrow, even more, perhaps i’ll write something about daily life in venice.  i’ve been thinking about what’s different, and i’ve made a list.  top of the list – bathroom habits.  stay tuned (or tune out).

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