Posted by: jeanne | March 14, 2015

a visit to two cloisters

it’s spring in venice.  here’s my evidence:  baby fish at the lido vaporetto stop


daffodils in our back garden

IMG_6719 IMG_6714

blooming cherry or apple or something trees in viale garibaldi


and a carpet of violets in same.


i have a great announcement to make – we’ve found where we’re staying next time we come to venice.  it was because of a chance meeting with someone on a vaporetto, and everything fits together nicely, which is a really good sign.

we met our new friend emily and her dog when we were coming home from wandering one night, and i liked her so much that we invited her to come over for coffee soon after.  the first fit was that she was due to leave venice in the next day or two, and so it was good that i had asked for her email, and better that i hadn’t stalled about having her over.  the second fit is that we’ve both had cancer, but i’ve dealt with all that in an earlier post.  the third fit was that she told us about where she was staying, and how much better a deal it was than what we’d found, and then sent us the link for the apartment and told us how much she was paying.  so we contacted the landlord and arranged to meet him this morning, to go see the place and discuss our plans with him.

IMG_6723 the greenhouse in viale garibaldi, where we met the landlord

it’s nearby, close to the vaporetto, and the store, and the playgrounds, and the parklike setting of giardini where it’s possible to walk a dog in comfort.  the family lives there on the ground floor, the wife is an artist, and they’ve got two kids.  that’s the fourth fit.

it’s the grounds of an old monastery, so it’s got a nice cloister,


and there are several configurations to rent.  emily had a bedroom,


a second bedroom/living room


with a terrace,


a kitchen,


and a bath with a tub.


the rest of the floor is also available, which gives another bathroom, a large living room that could easily be turned into a studio, and a bed in a loft space.  there’s also an attic that would also do just fine, the beams running about 6 inches above my head, and so jim would also fit comfortably (tho the landlord, of giant stock, did not).  we discussed the price, which is way less than we’re paying now, and the timing, which he’s okay with 3 months in the winter, and tho i didn’t mention it, the ad says they can deal with dogs, and emily had her dog without a problem.

so when we come back, perhaps the coming winter, maybe the year after that, we can afford to do so.  all we have to do is sell a few paintings, find a way to occupy the house in atlanta without the drama we had this time, and figure out how best to take care of our million and one dogs while we’re gone.  piece of cake.  thanks, emily.

that was the first cloister.  the second one was because of that indian music concert we found out about yesterday.  we looked it up, and it’s in the monastery on san giorgio (where we took the sunset shots for carnival).  we walked to san zaccaria from our visit with our soon to be landlord, connor demanding to sit in the carriage the whole way.  while we were waiting for the boat to san giorgio, we took pity on some american tourists who didn’t know how to validate their vaporetto tickets, and then jim talked to them until the boat came.  they’d been in atlanta last night, at the airport, and wanted to know what else they should do with their one day vaporetto pass (take the number 1 down the grand canal).

we went to the cini foundation once we got to san giorgio, it’s an old monastery from the 16th century, and they do guided tours.  this particular guided tour was in french, beause a group of french people queued up before we got there, and we didn’t have a choice.  both jim and i understand a modicum of french, but we weren’t there to listen, anyway.  the tour was 40 minutes off, so we went around to the bar next to the marina and had coffee for us and hot chocolate for connor.  we’re such experts at being here by this point that we stood at the counter and paid half of what the nice american tourists paid to sit at the tables.  the bar guy was rather old, and harried, and had to tend to everything himself, with mostly tourists demanding his attention, and a few venetians who own boats stopping by for their coffees.  he was very busy, too busy to go out to the terrace and play waiter for the nice english people who didn’t understand that you must order at the bar and then go sit down.

IMG_6751 stupid tourists. you’re not supposed to sunbathe in public

connor wasn’t much in the mood to be quiet or good, so i had to chase him around the grounds a bit,


but that was better than having him cut up inside the library.

SONY DSC yes, he’s still snotty, but it never stops him

much of the place was designed by palladio, including the refectory where the monks used to eat gazing up at a huge painting of the wedding at cana by veronese, of which in the photo is a copy, the real one being in paris.


we were expecting a mechanically reproduced copy, but jim swears it was hand painted, perhaps by a team of artists.  apparently he’s wrong – it was photoshopped using 1600 photos.  it was very impressive.  we thought that this must be the painting that veronese was forced to rename (the last supper, caused a scandal under that name because of all the clowns, plus some germans, so he renamed it and everything was fine – an old trick).  but the guide told us that we were thinking of another painting.  the place had just been renovated, and part of the floor was shiny with varnish, while the rest of it was still bare wood.

the guide was careful to tell us that we could only take pictures of the grounds, because photography inside the building was prohibited – the paintings wanted their privacy.  i agreed, of course, but was forced to break my vow almost immediately because the rooms were so magnificent, and i could just see jim using every setting as a scene filled with carnival figures.  so i used my cellphone camera set on silent operation, and waited until the guide’s back was turned.  that’s why the shots aren’t that good.


the stairway is magnificent, designed by longhena, and all in marble, with strangely proportioned statues in the niches.


we have been noticing that many of the statues resemble elves and trolls more than they do people; perhaps that was a convention back then – who knows.

connor found a musical instrument in the hall off the stairway, a metal urn that he thumped until i made him stop.


then we were in a long hall with large paintings every few feet, and we quickly lagged behind the crowd, as jim wanted to study each painting, and i wanted to photograph them.


but the tour turned into a room, and i felt obligated to go along quickly.

and boy was i glad.  it was stupendous.


a huge library all done in wood,


with billions of art books and paintings on the ceilings.


i kept glancing at the door, waiting for jim to show up, and he did, just as everyone was leaving.  he walked into the room and started looking up at the ceiling while the tour guide prepared to turn off the lights and lock the door, and i had to remind him that they were waiting for him.  we were both a little miffed that the tour guide marched right past the art and preferred to natter on about the architecture.  jim finally came along, but it was reluctantly, and he lagged behind again immediately as the rest of the crowd marched toward the research library, which is much more modern, but just as impressive,


because it went on and on and on, and was also full of art books.  we could get permission to use the library, but we would be expected to show university credentials, and we’d just have to forge them, so never mind.

after the libraries, we went outside to a roof deck


overlooking the new borges labyrinth, a maze constructed using the name borges, very cleverly laid out, so that we knew the thing said something but didn’t figure it out until we saw the schematic.


very cool.  and then the guide ushered us out,


and we played around in the campo of san giorgio until the vaporetto came.  i had time to take a nice timelapse of the waves lapping on the steps, and connor ran around like a banshee.


we came straight home, had something to eat, and then i crashed for an afternoon nap, and jim and connor are still outside playing with the kids, because it’s saturday, and they come from all over to use the playground.  tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, but the weather is never as predicted here in venice, so we’ll see.  we’re planning on going to lido for a free show at the planetarium in time for spring equinox.


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