Tag Archives: Biennale

Venice’s Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is like I-5 on the west coast, the major thoroughfare that cuts through Venice. Lined by big hotels, restaurants, and shops, there is beauty in every direction.

One of the more romantic spots in Venice is a major crossing point over the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge. A tradition that I was not able to take advantage of is to kiss your sweetie on the bridge. With this view, I sure felt like kissing someone, but my hubby was 6000 miles away so the photo had to be enough. The 3/4 moon was the icing on the evening.

Venice at night was what made me fall in love with the city. Below are the gondola when not in use. I loved the glow of the lighting along the canal at night. We walked and walked and it was even prettier with my white wine buzz.

We took the public “bus” called the vaporetto a couple of times. After our 3 days in Venice, we measured all distances, on land and water, via vaporetto stops. “How far is it to the museo?”

“Oh, its at least 4 vaporetto stops, we better take a cab.”

The vaporetto docking was crude (shown at left in the photo below). Waiting passengers would stand in the little “box” at the end of a dock and the vaporetto would pull up quick, slamming into the dock. An attendant would throw a rope over a large cleat on the dock, slide open a 4-foot door, bodies would crush off and bodies would crush on, and within about 3 minutes, the door slid shut and the vaporetto was on its way. Done. I was amazed at how quickly italian seniors could move compared to those loading a bus at home. I guess it keeps you spry.

We had trouble at first figuring out how to buy vaporetto tickets, since there was no ticket dispensary on the dock. By our third try, we discovered that you could buy tickets at the nearest news stand, but of course there was no sign saying so, we just found out from a kind italian waiting for the next vaporetto while we all pondered aloud how we’d ever get tickets. I’m embarrassed to say we took to vaporetto rides for free until we figured it out. It made me wonder how hard it must be for tourists here in the U.S. to figure out our bus system.

We got some great views of the Grand Canal when we took a “back streets” tour of Venice, the only paid tour we took in our two-week trip. I loved the tour and the great people we met. Our guide answered all my odd ball questions about city planning, geology of the building materials, and idiosyncracies of italian like what’s the difference between per piachere and per favore, which both mean please.

After our back streets tour, we did a pub crawl off the main track. Whenever we took a group photo, we would shout, “formaggio” instead of cheese. We met the lovely Dona from Santa Cruz and had dinner together while she gave us pointers about what to see and do in Cinque Terre.

I marveled at the architecture and beauty of the buildings that lined the canal, first built by Venice’s wealthiest families, and now converted primarily to businesses and restaurants. Our guide mentioned that change is difficult in Venice because there are many laws and ordinances designed to maintain the historic nature of the city. Exteriors can rarely be changed, and even the structure of interiors are highly scrutinized to maintain original artwork and architecture.

We also spent a lovely day at the Biennale, a national art exhibition that is held in Venice every other year, where each country chooses one or two artists to represent them at the show. I loved seeing the range of art, from photography, sculpture, painting, digital cartoons, and film to a range of exhibits that I didn’t even know what to call (other than ‘mixed media’). Some were religious, political, or romantic, while others went for provocative or modern or contemporary. 

Several exhibits were about U.S. film and politics, even though they were produced by other countries. I was fascinated by how other countries viewed and judged the U.S.in their work, it’s culture and public figures, and the fact that of all the art produced in their country, the work about the U.S. was chosen for the exhibition.

The piece above was along the Grand Canal and was one of the most interesting pieces I saw. Each “pixel” in this piece is a hand-painted egg. Literally. I’m blown away by the originality, the sheer time that must have been invested, and the execution of the concept. By the end of this day, I wanted to take an art class just to learn the vocabulary to describe all that I saw. Big thanks to Scott who organized the trip for exposing us to such interesting and stimulating work.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the last tidbits of Venice before moving forward to the second city of our tour, the historic and impressive Firenzia (Florence).

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