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.

SONY DSC

 

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.

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC
a dog enjoying the hell out of his boat ride

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

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC
close up of the wellhead

SONY DSC
courtyard’s giant statues

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC
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).

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC
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?

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC

there was high relief carving all over the ceilings.

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

SONY DSC

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

there were terrazzo floors.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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

SONY DSC

and then we crossed over into the prison.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSCSONY DSC

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

SONY DSC

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).

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

 

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

SONY DSC

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).

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

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.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

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).

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC
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.

SONY DSC

 

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.

SONY DSC
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.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: