Friday, December 31, 2010

1.1.11* It's the New Year in Venezia!! Ragazzi Spettacolare!!!

Tonight the event in Venice was definitely in Piazza San Marco, with a DJ carrousel,  a live boom camera, 3 jumbotrons in the Napoleanic courtyard, and a giant Bellini booth giving away special 2011 bottles of that special Venetian delight...To everyone.  It was packed.
My daughter just arrived today and we with her friend circulated through the Piazza, checking the full repertoire of events.  Easy toget around, the crowd thickens towards mezzanotte.
Live video, with dad and kid in front.  They moved on...
In front of Florian's, with crowd ooching to get in.. Only those with aspirations for hot chocolate and Veuve Clicquot need apply.  We went back to cash in on the free Bellinis.
It was a battle to get to the bar here, but it was worth it, we got them just in time to scoot to the edge of the piazzetta for the fireworks display over the Bacino di San Marco.
Looking back to the Campanile with its falling snow flakes.

Then overhead we saw a large Malaysian flare, like one we sent up last summer in East Hampton (thanks JC).  We watched it disappear into the cold air above Venice, but it was a great sight to see in this event of lights.
Still working on those Bellini's

Now the real action, as the municipality gets is guns loaded:
It is truly a delight to see the whole basin lit this way, calm water, tourist boats, and Palladio...
for now....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Last Evening a concert at Basilica dei Frari

The concert today, singing christmas songs, did not inspire me to go by the fact that it was a concert, I saw this as an opportunity to get into the church free and take pictures.  Most churches don't allow photography, but during concerts the rule is left on the floor, so to speak.  Also, I gave myself some time to get there so that I could meander my way and maybe see something interesting.

It has been raining for days, and along with intrusions of acqua alta, it has been a non aesthetic week, despite the attempts of the christmas holiday to overcome the weather.  Today the rain has stopped but still overcast,  the afternoon light was soft and that made it seem alive.  As I crossed il ponte dei Rialto, I saw a sandolo da barcariol slip into the Grand Canale from one of those tertiary canals which are about wide enough for 2 gondolas to pass, easing its passengers across the way.  The water is high, you can see the access fondamenta flooded, which gives the illusion of a wider canal.  

As I walked around the building toward the mercato, I see a gondola landing at a floating dock.  The main   
fondamenta is flooded, but today the water does not get any higher than the surface of its edges. The floating docks always receive the gondolas at the correct height.   I walk a little further to the arcade ahead and the gondolier is starting his voyage toward the Ferrovia, the new train station.

Today, the day after christmas, is so calm and peaceful, I seem to have it all by myself, so the little things that happen seem delightful.  Even the vaporettos which go by seem peaceful.  Especially the ones with the new 'mixer' props below, they seem to drift along their path. They don't make interesting photos just because they are quiet though.   But my favorite little building is ahead, just across from a little private dock.

The C'a'd'Oro, with its ankles soaked, and its beautiful carvings subtly rounded and its colors coming to life  in the soft light of the afternoon.  Look at the columns on the top level, symmetrical polychromy... not too shabby.  The peak of the Venetian style.   There is more meandering to do, but the light, and the protected water of the canal is gone as I travel through the winding calles on my way to the San Polo area where, as I get close, there is some excitement in the campo dei Frari.  I pop through a side door.

This church is large, the vaults overhead are elegantly worked out.  Note the carving on the wood  ti-beam above.

Looking toward the east...This church was laid out in about 1440,  after a 100 year building project for a smaller church had been completed. This one was built around the -existing- church which was demolished at some point to allow for its completion.  It is not Chartres (1200), but it is magnificent in space, sense of volume, and furnishings.

One of which is the magnificent Assumption painted by Titian.  Those around me declared that this was the greatest Titian...  It does fit well in its position behind the main altar of this church.  Note that the host and altar furniture are not there, and the choir is in rehearsal.  It was freezing and I wore my hat...

The marbled choir chamber is a massive interior room, "hidden" from the rest of the church.  It is obviously not hidden, but, when attending service, the choir is essentially not visible, and the music is ethereal, coming from nowhere to be seen.  The Concert this evening featured a trumpet solo coming from the secret chamber in the upper right where the organ pipes are seen.

The Choir, Corocastel di Conegliano, is a men's choir founded during WWII.  It is magnificent.  This choir sings at a level I never thought possible, pure music.  Listen:

Corocastel di Conegliano 2009

 Here they are in a you tube broadcast of the Choir in rehearsal at the same Basilica dei Frari in 2009.  Only a clue to the magnificent performance we heard.  It is... enhanced by the Titian and the surrounding architecture, but this must be the best choir in the world.  And I came for free...

I can't actually describe what the concert was like, but if you ever get a chance to hear this group, give up everything and go.

On my way home, I crossed the Rialto, being late I do not mention its whole name.

Set up for christmas, not sure how long these lights will last.  But it gets dark at 4:30PM or so, so may be a couple of months.  Just down the bridge, and veering off toward the left a little, we get to the
calle del Paradiso, where I live at the end.  I attend paradiso, I leave paradiso, I arrive at paradiso.

The Gothic arch was placed here between the two buildings at the bridge at the end of the street about 1400 AD, by the Foscari and Mocenigo families when they obtained the two the end of the street of paradise.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Allorra! A Christmas Eve note da Venezia

A visitor was looking out her hotel window, 
to see the sights the morning brings to view.
The dawning sun on the new fallen snow
Gave a luster to Venezia and the objects below.

And what to her wondering eye should appear,
but a sandolo moving south on the Grand Canale
with a little old oarsman so lively and quick,
that she knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

Flying past the Salute on the way to St. Mark,
eager to get a capucinno at the piazzetta,
Scouting the routes to the kids before it gets dark.
She heard him exclaim, before he got out of sight,

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good flight!

Many thanks to KdeS and CCM

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ancient Print Shop and a Snow Day...

There was snow in Venice over the weekend and it was chilly...So before sunrise I went down to
Piazza San Marco to catch one of those photo opportunities with a virgin blanket of snow...
It did snow, but not enough to cover up the previous evenings activities.

As the sun was popping through the morning clouds, Venetians were working, a photographer and 2 the look of those varnished oars they are probably going to their club to row in their sandolos, elegant little water craft...for getting about and for sport.

The sunrise view of San Giorgio from the Piazzetta....gondola bianca con neve..

My morning task was to pick up my name cards at the printer, stampatore, and when I got there Gianni Basso was excited about the snow, and not just because he is leaving for the Dolomites for 2 weeks.  The snow has filled the courtyard in back:

As can be seen, the snow is on the branches, leaves and vines of the rear courtyard.  Note the Napoleonic cavaliers in the snow at  P San Marco...actually reenactors from several years ago.

When I was there several days earlier to place my order the view was similar... con non neve.

Then I got the actual press wheel, which I seemed to think important at the time...

Here is the whole set up, from the 19th Century, with lead type, engraved maps and views and
the first printed copy of Pinnochio, (yea, a Veneziani ), here are some illustrations...

And the proprietor Gianni, and his son Stefano, the apprentice.

Gianni has been here for over 30 years and when he took over the shop he had apprentices from the Armenian monastery next door.  The novices would work for a year and others would replace them...thats gone now as the whole monastery went back to Armenia 15 years ago.   Alas, primogeniture, get the son to get to work...

They are surrounded by the shop's production of the last 150 years and often it, at least new copies from the same press, can be purchased along with the usual business cards, thank you notes and whatever modern man needs in the way of personal custom printing.

There are enough printing presses here to invent mass production, but...such is not their interest, Gianni is off to his family ski vacation...sci.

Probably would not get these kind of jobs anyway.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Third Avenue in Venezia...

Third Avenue is the major uptown delivery street for New York, busy all night ,as is 2nd Avenue doing its job as the downtown delivery street.  New York has to get its provisions, for stores, for groceries, for whatever is needed, but is poorly designed  to allow easy, that is easy, access,  for the regeneration of the city as it needs on a daily basis.
Well, you may imagine, Venice, with only canals, may be in a similar situation.  It is.

Here, on a foggy boats are going both ways on the canals....

This spot is at a cross 'street' to the avenue that is the Grand Canale beyond.  We missed the pic with the GC traffic, but, the 4 arched accesses on the left are actually berths for the Venice Fire Department and their fire boats, not a flooded Piransi drawing...but the bypassing traffic does intersect with the Grand Canale and requires some clever piloting...these pilots don't seem to understand slow, but everyone has lots of fenders...they need them.

Here is the Rialto Bridge, early in the morning.  It is probable that very few have seen this bridge with so few people.  It has been raining and Acqua Alta for over two weeks now, (it started the day I arrived), and today was/is predicted to be sunny, so I left the apartment before sunrise to capture the activities of Veneziana early in the morning.  Fog, boats, activities...that is the mission today to discover.
So, I left early for class, which begins at 9AM, so I could photograph some of the activities which keep this Citta alive.

I have focused the study on the area surrounding the Rialto Bridge, not only because it is on my way to class, but it has an active tourist market, and , additionally, the largest food market in the city. Vaporetto stop: Mercato. (Clue one!)
Here is a delivery barge, tied up at the fondamenta of the  Rialto, setting up to unload.  This type of  barge (boat) is similar to most utilitarian boats in Venice, hearses, fireboats, DHL, UPS, FedEx, all work, along with Verdure suppliers (vegetables), fruit, fish, and so forth...All trades have their own fleets.  Here, at the break of light, is a delivery for some stores along the Rialto/San Marco fondamenta.
Looking over the delivery craft, we see the hints of sunlight on the tops of the palazzo on the western side of the Grand Canale.
Here, at the top of the bridge, people start to gather to catch the early morning views, presumably before work on this first sunny day in weeks.  It is hard to explain the emotional balance of the city, dependent as it is on sunlight,  for its financial security, emotional security, and its physical survival, and the character it gives is citizens.  Today, in the end, was a very very happy day according to the merchants I talked with.  Note, additionally,  the beginning of Christmas lighting in the tourist area.

On the San Polo side of the Great bridge, looking toward the San Marco side, the pilaster, of plaster imitating the Istrian stone, which is so sensitive to the water and the sunlight, making dark streaks in the moist shade areas of the stone...

The Mercato, the great market at the Rialto, which as fresh fish, Verdure, meat, and whatever else is being sold, is hidden away from the tourist route, in full view.  The beauty and efficiency of city planning at its best.

Christmas trees being delivered.  No familys come down from Canada with their trees and park out on some 3rd avenue corner for a month and a half, these trees are ordered and boat.


The Marcato... these open air courtyard and covered markets, have been working the the same way for centuries.  Like the South Street Seaport fish market in New York, which until the late 1970's had the exact market with cutting counter and knives used to prepared fish, for our President George Washington on his way home from his office downtown, (He lived at what is now the base of the Brooklyn bridge), as well as the Newport  "Brick Market", designed in 1762 by Peter Harrison, both beneficiaries of the design of urban markets, like these still in existence in Venice.
We are getting "up close and personal" now, an early morning vendor setting up her market to look well when her customers arrive shortly.  Note the sign on the building, "Campo de la Pescaria", courtyard of the fishermen.  At least a half a milennia, or more, it has been working the same way, with the same families...

Looking down the Canal Grande, with a traghetto, which has just ferried several passengers across the Canal to get to the market area.  Seagulls swarm overhead with the scent of fresh fish.  Note: for people, the Ca'd'oro on the right, just across from the mercato.   It was planned at the center of the mercantile world when it was built.

Fishmongers bring in and cut up the fish daily for restaurant chefs,  store owners,  as well as those of us who want fresh fish for dinner;

these ells, crayfish and scungilli are ...m o v i n g..  I neglected to videotape the market...
And, there is always the vacuum packed Scottish smoked salmon, for those too squeemish to get into the real thing.  After all, these merchants are here to please.
Just a final shot (lots of pics here), to show that the columnar based building we saw facing the Canal, is the same one as the Gothic arched structure facing the Citta...(squint and see the market inside).

So, on my route to my class, I leave the Rialto Marcato, and follow the calle and ponti to the Campo d'San Margherita..  above, is a victim of the constant acqua alta.   Basically,  acqua alta is the rising of the high tides about 1.5 meters above normal.  5 feet at most, which can and does flood the various Campo, the lower floors of building, stores, apartment buildings, houses, hotels, restaurants, I can go on...  It also affect boats, they have to be docked somewhere, and if the owner does not adjust his docking lines, those lines can pull the boat under.  Here the boat is partially ripped apart, flooded, and probably worthless.  Several days earlier I saw the fire department using a high powered rescue pump on a boat of this size, to little positive effect, they couldn't get the gunnels above the water level.  Pumping water into water, a sad state of affairs.

On the Campo San Polo, the rising sun just hits the highest buildings and reflects off some windows..while early birds are wakling their dogs.
I ran back down to the Grand Canale to see what was happening , and caught the Polizia boat, just leaving for a patrol.  Glad I'm not driving.
And at Campo Santa Margherita, where my school is, wholesalers and vendors are delivering and setting up shop.  Here, after a delivery, the wholesaler is running his cart back to the boat.

Just down the Campo, the 2 fishmongers are starting to sell fresh fish to the locals.  Note that little blue fin tuna.  One of the greatest fish, fresh and ready to be cut up properly for those in the Santa Marghereta area.  Lots of other choices as well, but it is a sight to see the whole fish, and then, to see it so young.

On my way home from school, several stops along the way at the tailors, and Japanese stuff  retailers, I pass this display, in a bakery/restaurant a block from my apartment in the San Marco area.  Are we not all happy to be doing whatever we are doing?  That is the thing.