Keep a camera handy anywhere you go and you will find oddball photo ops.
Sometimes it takes a bit of courage to enter the fray on the Accademia bridge in Venice. So many people, standing, talking, taking pictures, not moving…
Ah, here’s a break and a bit of time to check the signed padlocks of lovers proclaiming their undying and everlasting love for each other.
Venice. A city of delights.
Travelog: Venice, 2014 The Peggy Guggenheim Collection
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection was high on my list of things to see in Venice. We arrived in this spectacular city mid-morning, checked into our hotel, and then wandered slowly but deliberately from San Marco Piazza, meandering along the calle in the general direction of the Accademia Bridge, and taking our time to view the exquisite sights on our way. I must have looked pretty silly with that grin of happiness filling my whole face as we explored the city, checking out every nook and cranny of the calle and campi we crossed. So much to see, and of course, not enough time.
After crossing the bridge to the Dorsoduro section of Venice, we turned left and headed to the Guggenheim Collection, zig-zagging genrally to the left on the calle until we found the museum at 701 Dorsoduro. (If you turn right at the base of the Accademia Bridge, you will find the Gallerie dell’Accademia, a museum housing Venetian art. It’s a museum well worth visiting.)
Peggy Guggenheim (1898-1979), niece and heiress of mining magnate Solomon R. Guggenheim, collected modern art in Europe and America at the beginning of and through WWII. Her home, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, built in the 1750s on the Grand Canal, was never finished by its original owner who had intended it to be a grand four-story masterpiece. Venetians have nicknamed this structure Il Palazzo Nonfinito (the unfinished palace). Guggenheim purchased the one-story building in 1949 and used it as her home as well as a museum for her extensive modern art collection.
Guggenheim encouraged and supported many young modern artists (Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, Vasily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, just to name a few) by collecting and displaying their artwork. She married Max Ernst, also a contemporary artist whose artwork can be seen in the gallery and courtyard at the Guggenheim.
Our visit to the Guggenheim Collection was everything I expected it to be and more. To be in the galleries viewing the artwork of such well-known artists of the Cubism, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism movements was thrilling, and I definitely want to visit again.
Don’t miss this museum if you visit Venice. You only need a few hours to enjoy the gardens and the galleries. (Yes, I know, you could do some of this artwork yourself! I heard that comment at the museum. But you haven’t, have you? And you won’t, will you?)
Go and enjoy Peggy Guggenheim’s Collection. Your college arts and humanities professor will be proud of you.
For my other posts on Venice, click on the titles below.
Here are a few odds and ends that seem to fit in the odd ball category.
Please check out Cee’s featured bloggers for the Odd Ball Challenge for Week 24.
Travel Log: Venice, 2014 #4
I love photo challenges and try to jump in on them whenever I can. This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge is Silhouette, so I have combined my Travel Log with the silhouette photo challenge.
For more posts in Travel Log: Venice, 2014 see below.
Travel Log: Venice, 2014, #3
The off-again, on-again light rain continued through the late afternoon and early evening on our visit in late May. Although it did not dampen our plans for exploring the square, others stayed away. Even the caffés (Italian spelling) closed their outdoor venues. (See Venice, Italy #2: San Marco Piazza in the Rain for my post on Basilica San Marco.)
Campanile of San Marco’s Basilica
On the right side of Piazza San Marco, the Campanile (bell tower) rises 333-foot-tall (98.5 m). First built in 1173, the tower’s five bells each ring out different messages. The marangona rings in the morning and at night signifying the beginning and end of the work day; the nona rings at noon; and the other three ring for special situations. The mezza terza tolls the meeting times of senators while the trottiera calls the Great Council into session. The last, malefico, rings as an ominous warning to others: an execution is about to take place.
This tower is not the original Campanile. The San Marco Campanile had been restored after an earthquake (1514) and totally rebuilt (1912) after its collapse in 1902. An inside elevator will whisk you to the top to see incredible views of Venice.
In the foreground of the Campanile, shops and caffés stand at ground level with the Procuratie Nuove above. This colonnaded “new” building, built in the mid-16th century, houses the offices of procurators (government agents responsible for finance, taxes, and management of government property).
On the ground floor, one of the most famous caffés, Caffé Florian, opened in 1720 as Alla Venezia Trionfonte (Triumphant Venice). The rain showers closed down the caffé action for a while, but as soon as the skies cleared a bit, the waiters wiped down the tables and business started up again. Musicians supplied entertainment for the diners, walkers, and pigeons in the square.
On the left of the Basilica, stands the Procuratie Vecchie, built earlier in the 16th century, which houses more government offices. On the ground level, shops and caffés carry on their lively business indoors, serving both locals and tourists alike, but somewhat less so in the rain.
Caffé Quadri, a favorite of the Austrians when they were in power in the 19th century, 1898-1804 and 1814-1866, serves guests indoors while it rains, but spreads out again outside when the rain stops. (See Venice, Italy: San Marco Piazza in the Rain for more historical detail.) (The Venetians at that time preferred the Caffé Florian on the opposite side of the square.)
You can read more of my travel log of Venice here:
Travel Log: 2014, Venice 2
We arrived in Venice on a sunny morning, but early afternoon dark clouds gathered overhead threatening to spoil our day. By late afternoon, rain sprinkled for an hour or so, but that didn’t stop us from wandering around and checking out the sights.
Venice is an intriguing city with unique and fascinating characteristics: its location and geophysical formation; its incomparable system of canals, calle (car-less streets), and quaint campi (squares); its history of economic, political, religious, and cultural influences; and its architecture, art, and literature. All of these bring forth a sense of wonder in visitors. And according to Donna Leon, an American writer who has lived in Venice for over thirty years, the Venetians themselves (as well as the characters in her books) feel awed by the magnificence of this city.
Through almost two thousand years, numerous well-known historical figures have stamped their names in the pages of Venetian chronicles. Roaming around Venice is akin to looking into these annals of history.
Piazza San Marco (San Marco Square)
First stop: Piazza San Marco and the famous Basilica San Marco.The church is the focal point in the square, and people and pigeons meander around despite the rain. And no worries about the square flooding this trip; acqua alta (tidal flooding that sometimes covers the square), usually occurs in late fall to early spring.
The original church, started in 828 and completed in 832, was built on the site of an earlier, smaller chapel dedicated to the first patron saint of Venice, St. Theodore. After that, destruction through fire (civil rebellion in 976), conquests (Napoleon, 1797), general aging and disrepair, and damage caused by the omnipresent pigeons required further rebuilding, remodeling, renovation, and restoration.
Pigeons? Yes, pigeons cause damage to the mosaics and façade of the basilica, and despite various attempts to remove the pigeons, none have succeeded.
St. Mark Arrives In Venice
San Marco Square is named after St. Mark, follower of Jesus and the writer of the Gospel of Mark. The story goes that in 828, two rather devious Venetian merchants spirited away the bones of St. Mark from Islamic Alexandria, Egypt. They then transported these sacred relics to Venice in a barrel of pork thereby avoiding detection by non-pork-eating Muslim government inspectors. Having these religious relics in Venice cemented ties to the Christian church in Rome (as opposed to the Byzantine branch in Constantinople) and guaranteed that many visitors would come to Venice to offer homage and prayers.
The Four Horses of San Marco Basilica
Scaffolding hides part of the basilica façade on my visit, but just beneath the scaffolding and just above the center arch and door, replicas of the four famous gilded bronze horses confiscated from the Hippodrome in Constantinople (formerly Byzantium, now Istanbul) after the conquest and looting by the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade (1204).
Religious crusaders, seeking to remove Muslims from the Holy Land in the Fourth Crusade, detoured to Constantinople because of a deal they made with the Venetians: attack Constantinople in trade for warships built in Venice. The Venetian motives were not exactly pure. They reaped economic fortune by supplying the warships to the crusaders, then as Constantinople fell, the Venetians, conveniently standing by, stepped in to take control.
The motto, “to the victor belongs the spoils,” guided their behavior, and great Byzantine treasures, including these bronze horses, ended up in Venice. Valuable trading rights came to the Venetians as well. Venice became known as the “Queen of the Adriatic” and continued to prosper despite a round of the Black Death (1348-1349) that halved the population of the city.
Challenge to Venetian Domination
Jealousy and greed reign supreme, and Venice’s uncontested glory around the Mediterranean drew the ire of other world leaders. In 1508, Pope Julius II of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and Maximillian, the Roman Emperor, set aside their own differences to take on this growing menace in Venice. King Louis XII of France and Ferdinand II of Aragon, also mightily disturbed by the boldness of the Venetians and their trade monopoly in the Mediterranean, joined forces against Venice in the League of Cambria. Together these leaders and their armies destroyed Venice’s economic grip on the region.
The Ottoman Turks, an even greater threat, moved into the vacuum (1522) left by the League of Cambria and finished what remained of the Venetians and their centuries of glory. Another round of the Black Death plague further weakened Venice (1575), and it never regained its controlling power in the Adriatic and Mediterranean.
The French, led by Napoleon, still interested in Italian territory, came back in 1797 and lay siege to the Venice. After taking control of the city, Napoleon promptly sent those four bronze horses to Paris as his victory spoils.
In 1798, Napoleon traded off his interest in Venice to the Austrians (1798) in the Treaty of Campoformio, although he returned again in 1804. The Austrians again occupied Venice in 1814 under the Treaty of Fontainebleau. After the fall of Napoleon in 1814, the Austrians again occupied Venice under the Treaty of Fontainebleau. The Austrians arranged for the return of the four horses from France, and they now reside inside the basilica.
Freed from Austrian rule in 1866, Venice became part of the new united Italy under Vittorio Emanuele.
Pomp and Circumstance in the Square
Now in 2014, I try to imagine the pomp and circumstance what might have taken place in Piazza San Marco in earlier times. Fortunately, Medieval and Renaissance artists give us some idea of the glorious events that took place here. In this next public domain piece of art, Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) portrays the religious “Processione della Vera Croce a Piazza San Marco a Venezie (1496). Imagine the excitement, the noise, the splendor, the magnificence of so many clerics and officials gathered in the square. Bellini’s masterpiece is on display at the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice.
Reach out and touch 2000 years of history in Venice. This vibrant city will meet every expectation you have for beauty and excitement.
You can read more about Venice here: Venice, Italy: Riding the Water Bus to San Marco Square
Excellent, fast-moving commentary on the use of correct grammar. jkh
Originally posted on The Red Pen of Doom:
Back in the day, Weird Al Yankovic was proudly, loudly weird. Today, he’s the master of parody videos, which keep getting better and better.
This one is a dream for writers and editors everywhere. He speaks the truth. Sing it, Al, and let the rumors that you’re retiring be false.
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The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits Collection: 10 Epic Posts
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While visiting the Greek island of Mykonos recently, my friend and I sat at a waterside café imbibing icy drinks, snacking on island specialties, and watching the tourists stream from the cruise ship that had just anchored in the harbor. (We had been lucky and had managed to snag places on the third tender to bring guests to shore.)
Across from the café sat a woman all dressed in black sharing our view.
The woman in black sat in the same spot for almost an hour, then she stood up, took off her shoes, and dabbled her feet in the cool, clear water, giving us the opportunity for an extra interesting photo.