Thursday, September 8, 2011

Farewell Venice

A Quiet Sunday Stroll -  An Historic Sea Regatta

Written September 4, 2011

This morning when I looked out of my hotel window I produced an involuntary sigh. Tomorrow I fly home and rejoin my "normal" life, so today is bittersweet.

I enjoyed a nice big breakfast then stepped out of my hotel room with no specific destination in mind. Being my last day I thought I’d generally start walking to places I’ve yet to fully explore.

The View From My Hotel Room at The Molino Stucky

I had been notified that the hotel’s motor launch service to Piazza San Marco would be curtailed much of the afternoon. When asked the concierge was not sure why. However, once aboard the launch I was told today was Venice's annual regatta of historic oared sea craft. Cool! 

So I rode just across the Guidecca Canal to Zattere. From there I started walking toward the Punta della Dogana. 

The prominence of the Punta della Dogana is important. It is where the Giudecca Canal splits from the Grand Canal. Hence, it is the location of Venice's historic Customs House (now one of Venice's many art museums.) The location is superb as it is easy walking distance to the Guggenheim collection of modern art.

Since it was a Sunday morning Venice was still quiet. Initially my walk took me past all of the old Customs House warehouses. Many have been re-purposed to showcase art installations. I stepped into two; one featuring modern Arab art and the other student art. Some of the warehouses are used by Venice's various rowing clubs, which were all abuzz gearing up for the regatta.

As I came to the very tip of the Punta I could not help but notice Charles Ray's 8' tall stark white sculpture of a boy holding up a dead frog. Apparently, this was supposed to be a temporary installation (in 2009.) So I have to assume it is becoming more permanent. I also couldn't help but notice that a guard remained inches from the sculpture complicating my photo efforts.

However, when I reached my room and read about a madman vandalizing the fountain of the Moors in Rome's Piazza Navona, the guard made sense.

Boy With Frog is striking in size, siting, and stark white finish. Also it stands at the just below the 1677 era tower capped with the magical swirling weathervane Fortuna perched on a gilded globe supported by two atlases. 

Boy With Frog
Charles Ray 2009 - Los Angeles
(Across the Canal is San Giorgio Maggiore)

The Globe With Fortuna

Fortuna From San Marco

Much of the Punta della Dogana museum is scaffolded due to a major redesign by Tadao Ando. As I understand it his design respects the form of the original building. Guess I'll just have to come back and see that someday.....

I then turned the corner and there was the lovely Basilica Santa Maria della Salute. This is the cathedral built to thank the Virgin for the end of plague. The last time I was in Venice in 2008 it was covered by elaborate scaffolding, so it was wonderful to now see it complete. I ran the gauntlet of gypsy beggars and entered the Basilica. Being Sunday mass was underway inside. The Basilica is as breathtaking inside as it is outside.

Santa Maria della Salute

Mass in Session

I then crossed the canal aiming toward the Guggenheim. Before getting there I encountered another Biennale exhibit featuring modern (berserk?) works of art from China. Many of them featured imagery from American popular culture. One sculpture was a large Mickey Mouse in a state of arousal that would not be suitable for children. If artwork is a window to a culture's soul, well China has joined the rest of the industrial world's level of ambulatory schizophrenia........

Some of Biennale's Modern Chinese Art 

I then walked by Peggy Guggenheim's Museum. This is a must-see for anyone who appreciates the  modernist art she devoted her life to collecting.

Up till now my stroll had been as quiet as one would expect on a Sunday. But as I made my way toward the Academia bridge I found the crowds.

A Quiet Sunday Morning

As well as finding the crowds I also noted that everywhere I went the Venetian flag was being raised in support of the regatta.

The Venetian Flag Being Raised

I made my way to the Academia Bridge and enjoyed the views of the Grand Canal and the flowers blooming on the grounds of the Institute of Science Letters and Art.

The Grand Canal 

From here the crowds started to develop and remained that way for the rest of the day (despite it raining a bit later in the afternoon.) As I walked I realized how much I love the gondola's and wooden water taxis' that are all over Venice. They, in my opinion, are true works of art. 

A Typical Venetian Water Taxi

From here I enjoyed some window shopping. Venice has superb shops of every sort, but I love the leather, paper, superb Murano glass, and lush Fortuny fabrics.

Amazing Leatherwork

At this point my little Olympus Stylis camera bit the dust. As it is my second Olympus to die prematurely (usually minutes after the warranty expires,) I guess my affection for Olympus is officially over.

As I made my way back to the Grand Canal I got to see the amazing Regatta and snapped a few photos with my old I-phone. Hence, the quality of the photo's is lowwwwwww.

Regatta Splendor

More Eye Candy

From here is was a stroll back to Zaterre to catch a lift back to the Molino. Like all good things, this visit to Italy is drawing to a close. Time to start packing. 

Roadboy's Travels © 2011

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