Posted by: jeanne | March 31, 2015

francis, our final guest

first, let me digress.  the day before getting francis, as i was writing my last blog post, we went up to the north side of the island to revisit the folks at the venice printmaking studio, where jim had loads of questions to ask about technical things (where do you get your supplies and materials, how big a plate do you work on) and to tell them of a technique for printing he’d come across many years before but had never tried – of doing the preliminary work of etching on a mylar sheet, and then transferring it to the plate for etching.  that way, he can do much of his work back in atlanta, and bring his work rolled up on the plane, avoiding the huge cost of shipping plates, and the time he would otherwise have to spend in venice creating his images.

IMG_8314 the little girl mostly ignored connor on this very crowded vaporetto ride

once we’d finished asking loads of questions – and meeting their newest resident, michael ??? – who is here from somewhere in the cold north to do some etching for a couple of weeks – we rambled on home a different way than the one we’d taken a few days before – mostly easy to do in venice.  one of the things i love the best about venice is that it’s chock full of gardens.  you’d never know to walk down the streets, which are for the most part narrow and sunless, but behind practically every high wall there’s a bit of green and a tree.  sometimes the green is only in pots, but often there are full grown gardens back there, that nobody but the residents of the nearby houses can see and enjoy.


the studio is around the corner from the basilica of zanipolo, where bunches of doges are buried.  i wouldn’t know but for the wikipedia entry, because like many churches, they charge you to enter, and i never seem to have the coins on me to make the fee.  besides, i’m cheap.  it’s also right next to the hospital.  i’m a bit confused, tho, because the building next to the church is a scuola, with lovely art inside, but i think that’s on the first floor, because the ground floor was full of people going back to the hospital.  so we went there, too.


but first, the outside.  flanking the doors to the scuola are these wonderful tromp l’oeil carvings of lions in an arched door.  jim took this picture and clipped off the doorway above the lion, but i think i put a photo of the whole thing in an earlier post.  they’re magnificent, anyway.


right next to the lions are a few relief carvings shielded from touching by thick glass plates which produce too much glare to take photographs thru.  but if they weren’t shielded, the guys would lose more than their noses to vandals.

the church grounds are absolutely enormous, and this is only one of the halls, surrounding a bunch of courtyards connor was only too glad to run thru, whooping.  in a hospital.

this immense ornamental door seemed to go nowhere, and was actually indoors.  it looks like it should be outside, so perhaps it is very old and the hallway was built onto it when they put in the hospital.  and perhaps the hospital used to be a monastery.  i’m not too up on the history.  jim and connor loved this doorway, however.


what connor loved even more were the cats.  there were many cats on the grounds of the hospital, like this pair of black and white cats that he couldn’t reach, so they stayed where they were.


another thing i love about venice – even the trash cans have class.


stopping into the church, i ducked inside and caught this photo before the guy saw me and wanted money.  it’s pretty impressive, actually.


we gave what little money we had in our pockets to the guy with the squeeze box, instead.  that’s connor running around without his coat on.


and what an ornate well head.  if i were more organized, i would have made a study of ALL the well heads in venice, of which there are hundreds, some hidden in private gardens.  what a great excuse to be let in to see the gardens.  maybe i’ll try that next time.


going the back way home meant going over this stretch of canal.  we overheard the tour guide perched on the bridge as he explained how several taxes on windows by some occupying force (either bonaparte or the austrians) led to a lot of owners bricking in their windows, which would explain a lot.


and lo and behold, the wonderful courtyard was open this time when we went by, so i dragged jim in there and showed it off.  ramo fontana, i think it is.  the corner is missing its shrine, which is currently being restored.  there’s a sign on the corner saying as much, but i found this while i was researching whatever hotel or restaurant must be in that courtyard.  which i can’t find anything about, and there’s no other entrance to the building, at least on the map.  puzzler.

so, now to getting francis.  his plane was due to arrive from barcelona at 2:45, so i had a much later start than usual, and actually had time to go for another round of bag-shopping and walk from san toma’ to piazzale roma.  a real luxury.  and oh yes, to make a final trip to panorama on the mainland looking for wheels for connor’s scooter at the nearby decathlon store, which was a failure as they didn’t have any spare parts for it.  anymore.


tuesday dawned bright and crisp, and warm enough that the bridge on the vaporetto had its doors open, so i took this shot and stood there out of the wind.

work on the gondola station next to santa maria del giglio continues, with a large crane on a larger barge doing some dredging as they install poles to tie gondolas onto.  they’ve been working at this spot for weeks now.


san polo is wonderful; i haven’t explored it nearly as much as i would like.  mostly i’ve had to go the tourist track, but this time i was on a hunt for the old red light district, which managed to get narrowed down to one street – carampane, which is the name of the house at the end of this nondescript alley.  there’s also a well regarded trattoria nearby, and i was considering it for a dinner with francis until i realized how far he’d have to walk to get there, and how high the prices were.  i’d post the menu but it would depress me.


but it gave me the excuse to use my map app a bunch and find my way along completely tourist free streets for awhile.  i did follow a pair of english speakers at one point, but they’d been in venice for six months, and were complaining that they still got lost in this part.  good to know.

wonderful little gardens everywhere, with way antique garden benches and work tables.  lovely courtyard, too.  wish you could have been there.


scenic canals, too.  i’m not sure if jim will actually get to see them, or will he have to rely on my photos.  i should have taken more, but i had only given myself an hour to walk to piazzale roma, and was finding myself taking a photo every time i turned a corner.  i always forget to budget the time for that.


but finally i was in sight of the train station and the bus station, and passed the exact same scarf marie had bought when she was here – indigo and paisley with a small floral print, of cotton and acrylic.  it must be end of season, because it only cost 5 euro, so i bought it.  yay.


and as i rounded the corner to piazzale roma, there’s a hotel that’s having work done, and they put up this great mural on the wooden covering.  and this guy was standing there getting pictures of the glass bridge (whose architect is being sued because the thing is falling down already).  so i got a picture of him while he was busy.

and then it was onto the number 6 bus to san antonio, and then on the tram to panorama, and then to decathlon, and then to the grocery, and then the pharmacy, and then back on the tram to the train station, and then onto the 15 to the airport, and then a coffee while waiting for francis’s plane to land, which it did so almost immediately.  that’s how good my planning was, yay.

i brought him home via the number 1 down the grand canal, and he really enjoyed that.  wow was about all he could say, which is par for the course for your first time in venice.  renee said the same thing.


and then it was introduction time for connor, who had been expecting francis since renee left.  he’s always so excited to be sleeping on the couch bed, and really seemed to be happy that there was another boy to play with.  he warmed to francis immediately, which may have disconcerted francis somewhat, but connor could charm a snake, and they got along fine.  francis even told connor his bedtime story that night, making up some fantastic yarn to tell him that had him happily going to sleep right after discovering that he couldn’t rope him into multiple stories and songs the way he did with renee.

for the next post, i’ll try to cram a few days into one, because francis has been here for 3 days already.  but we’ll see how that goes.


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