Thursday, November 24, 2011

Venice Once Again

On a recent Friday I was idly checking the weather forecast for various locations in Europe and noticed that Venice was about to enjoy four straight days of sun.  Within an hour I had booked flights and a hotel room and two days later we found ourselves on a vaporetto, watching the multihued palazzi go by.

This is the kind of thing we thought we'd be doing often while living in Paris but as you might have noticed we don't often manage to leave town.   We had missed a previously planned visit to Venice when we had to delay our departure for Paris in September and it suddenly seemed the thing to do.  We'd been looking forward to seeing the Biennale, the international art exhibition Venice holds in odd-numbered years and we realized we could still see it if we went right away.  So there we were.

It felt a bit like visiting an old friend and a bit like a brand new acquaintance.  We checked into an adorable little hotel, dropped our bags and hit the bridges.  I use that word advisedly since it seems they have proliferated since we were last there; I don't recall quite as many quite as ubiquitous.

One of the greatest Venetian pleasures is getting lost and even I, the ultimate control-freak, enjoy a certain extent.  I had my very detailed map in hand and benefited from the directional recall I had from previous visits.  Nonetheless, it took a very nice pierced-face young woman walking her dog to walk us in the right direction when I got lost trying to find a restaurant I'd been to three times before.  This is shaming to such as moi.

But the weather was incredible, the crowds manageable, and the food delicious.

One is always startled in Venice to see the normal routines of the outside world given a Venetian twist; here your packages are not delivered by a van.

We managed to see tons of art in churches we'd never visited before, including the incredible Veroneses in the Church of San Sebastiano.  We avoided museums per se but found ourselves peering into the courtyard of the Ca d'Oro and couldn't resist going in.

We were told that we were the lucky beneficiaries of an unusually low tide that left the mosaic floors of the canal level palazzo entry uncovered to view.

And as for the higher floors, I was much more taken by the remaining architectural wonders than by the art on the modernized walls.

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