Posted by: jeanne | April 11, 2015

last days in venice, part 2

on friday, i packed everything for the first time, and turned out woefully overweight once i started getting accurate readings (it was all so comfortably underweight while i was weighing the bags themselves, but once i got on the scale and hefted them, it was a different story).  then we went out and delivered all the food and liquor that our new friends and future landlords could take, then did the rounds of via garibaldi for last minute things (that bottle of old balsamic vinegar, those spare parts for our espresso pot, milk and cream, to the bank for enough money to see us to the airport, and to the post office to mail that postcard for francis (you’re welcome).

then we went around to the naval history museum on riva san biagio.

the first floor is all about guns, of all sizes.  i realized as i started my usual discipline of photographing everything, that the camera was running out of batteries, and plus i wasn’t all that interested in photographing weapons of destruction.  so i limited it to swords and guns with fancy stocks or interesting doodads, and saved my film until we got to the boats, which was really why we went.


back in the 16th century (or so) they liked to decorate their cannon, so the end of this one is a lion’s head, which drew connor’s attention.  they were very elaborate for killing machines.


this is the usual boat before about 1000 a.d.  it’s a rowing boat, and will be the subject of a painting, where the cocky venetians tell the invading franks to just go straight, and then threw torches onto the boats.


there were two interesting photos of zeppelins over venice.  one was dropping a bomb, or so i judged from the smoke rising from the ground.

since italy was on the other side of the war, it’s a bit unsettling to read about how they used frogmen and a primitive torpedo to sink various english ships.  i guess our side crows uncomfortably when we laud our own victories.  but it’s all death dealing, and therefore a bad thing.


the boats were meticulously detailed; carved and painted with the greatest of care.  as we went from room to room and up the stairs for more, the boats grew in size and scale, and at the top floor they had large models of huge ships and ocean liners.


there was a pair of these carved guys to go on the back of somebody’s ship.  the details that go into these things.


like this, with hundreds of carved rowers, all about 6 inches tall, all with different details and expressions.  the whole ship was about 10 feel long in miniature.


this guy was the prow of some ship.  i thought all the prow ornaments were women, but plainly i was wrong.


he’s even more impressive, and for a moment, until my camera was ready, jim was standing in front of it looking just like the dude in wood.


this is school of someone; jim knows.  either tintoretto or titian.  i had just asked him if there were any famous paintings i should know about, and he said no, but came right back and got me to show me a series of portraits on one wall, all of which (most of which) were by someone i should know.


this is a small scale version of the bucintoro, the huge ship of state used in the yearly venetian ritual of covering your ass with the sea:  always a wise precaution.  it’s all in gold, and each little detail outdoes the others.  it’s just too much.


as ever, connor loved the lions.


and the horses.  he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t climb up and get on this one


in the costume room i went looking for old 10th century clothes, but this museum was started by the austrians back in the mid 1800s and so there was only the ridiculous uniforms instead of anything practical.  this was my favorite.


and i have absolutely no idea what this guy was for, altho there were several of them on the walls, about 18″ square and carved of wood.  i love the eyes.


out the window of the upper floors this view was visible.  you could actually see the waters of the arsenale from that window, which of course was appropriate, because this was a naval museum, and we were right at the end of the arsenale canal.


they had an amazing collection of shells, and i photographed this one because it had the best light, rather than the most strange shape.  there were others even more bizarre.


this abstract sculpture of a horse’s leg is actually what the oarlocks of gondolas look like.  they are very beautiful, and i would have wanted to bring one home but for the weight and the fact that it wouldn’t fit in any suitcase i’d brought with me.


this tiny model is of a dragon boat.  you can see the dragon’s neck and head at the prow.  they still use these, sort of.


connor pointed out some damage to an old fashioned covered seat of an old fashioned gondola.  he didn’t mean to.


and in the end there were lots of models of venetian fishing vessels, small boats of various descriptions.  it was well worth the 5 euros it cost to get in.  we now have more material than we’ll ever need for venetian paintings featuring watercraft.


this structure is an old facade; it’s where whistler stayed for part of his time in venice, and it is only being used now as the facade for the adjoining hotel bucintoro.  it’s right outside the museum entrance.


so i got a photo of jim, sunning himself after the fairly cold rooms inside the museum.


and connor as well, who is almost invisible, and jumped off right after i took the picture.  of course.


on the way home, i had to take this photo of all the fishermen.  now that it’s spring, they all come out to fish off the riva, all day long.  there must be hundreds of fishermen working their little patches all over venice, every day.

during all this time (it was friday), i thought it was saturday, and didn’t find out until the evening. so saturday turned out to be the extra day i didn’t think i had.  so on saturday, i sent jim off to explore santa croce with the camera.

connor got up in a bad mood, and cranked right up when jim took this picture right before leaving the house.

and i’m afraid i can’t say much about the photos he shot because i wasn’t there with him.  he started by going up the grand canal on the number one, and got off at san stae’.  from there he wandered over to the frari, and then back again – i don’t know how with no map on him.  he used to be a boy scout, that’s the answer.

one of the things he loved was the graffiti.  there’s not that much of it in venice, and it tends to be either sports related, or political.  like this one, a commentary on the tourists of carnivale.  maybe.


san croce is small, the canals are small and the streets are small, and there are lots of very old houses and great views.


things regular tourists don’t find very interesting send me and jim into palpitations.

in the church of san rocco, jim found this massive tintoretto of jesus chasing the moneychangers from the temple.  coincidently, he was working on just such a painting at the same time, only it was this scene in fresco above a trinket counter in san marco.  there were guards posted to make sure he didn’t take any pictures, but he managed to get this when both guards left the church.  good boy, jim.

this one also.  nice church, eh?  and you don’t have to pay to get inside.

he got this picture of medusa; he’s painted medusa a few times, several with me as the model, which is why nobody gets to see pictures of me on my blog.  a selfie would turn me to stone.

while he was near the frari, he came across an art gallery that had a very good selection of contemporary art, and spent a lot of time talking to the owner.  perhaps she’ll want to show some of his paintings next time.


more wonderful canals.


etc etc.  they seem so prosaic, but there aren’t any others like it.

i love the graffiti.  i don’t think it’s meant to be in english, but i can read it no matter what language it’s in.


another nice wellhead.  we have so many to paint now.


and this brilliant door handle shaped like a fish and made from blown glass.


this is under a sottoportege, and leads to a canal.  but the light, the plant, the quietness; great picture, jim.


i’m not sure if teh tree is growing out of the well or behind it.  it’s great looking, tho.


in keeping with our fascination with death, here’s a fashion model who’s taken it perhaps a bit too far.  i hear france has just passed legislation prohibiting the starving of fashion models.  good luck with that.  every ten years or so the meth/heroin addict look comes back.


and another wonderful, if overly built up, well head to cap his 6 hour tour of san croce.

while i stayed home to finalize the packing and clean the apartment (always leave it cleaner than you found it).  i had printed out all the photos i took of how the place looked like before i rearranged everything, and i was quite surprised by where some things originally were – things that don’t make any sense to have out where a kid can get to them.  when i was finished packing to my home weight scale’s satisfaction (but i live in fear of the scales at the airport), i took connor off to get something to eat at the grocery, for our actual final day’s meal.  we got what looks like veal stuffed with cheese and tomato, and would be trying desperately to use up all the rest of the food – those three potatos, that can of peas, as much cheese as we can eat.


the baby fish are still gathering under the pier at lido, larger every time, swimming less frantically, still avoiding the birds.  connor wanted to watch them for a long time, but the boat came.


and this is the view of sant’elena as we approached the dock on our last day but one in venice, with the trees blooming, the grass long and luxurious, and the dogs and kids at play.  our little house is just visible thru the trees, the white under red behind the pole.


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