Sacral Beauty in Venetian churches

 

Veronese EsterFilled with more than 25 million visitors a year Venice is always more chaotic.
In spite of the confusion and the thousands of people in the narrow alleyways, there are still places where you can hide from crowds and noises: churches in Venice are real oasis of peace and beauty.

Sitting quietly in front of Titian’s colors, Bellini’s serenity or Tintoretto’s dramatic scenes, it seems as if we could get in contact with our ancestors; as if we, through these works, could understand the passions, the dreams or the fears that moved them.Bragora2 int

The churches of Venice, to me, are like a bridge to the past; places where for hundred of years daily life, confessions and love stories, moments of desperation and happiness took place.

To me, those saints and those Madonnas that look at us from the altars are not only images meant to teach the stories of the Bible, but figures with whom people used to share their thoughts, figures who were part of the life of the community. People would take flowers or little presents to them, would talk to them, entrusting them their thoughts and hopes.

In the next posts I’ll put some of my favorite churches. Hoping that visitors will continue to experience them as places of hospitality and beauty.

Frari interno

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Leonardo da Vinci at the Accademia Galleries

Leonardo Uomo Vitruviano

From August 29th and until December 1st there will be one more reason to visit the Accademia Galleries.

Alongside with masterpieces by Titian, Bellini, Veronese, Tintoretto, Carpaccio and many others, visitors will have a unique occasion to see an exhibition on Renaissance drawings dating from 1478 to 1516, which includes the famous Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci.

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Do you bead? Glass-beads maker Muriel Balensi

Muriel Balensi

Muriel Balensi

¿Do you bead?, a group of glass-beads makers and jewel designers, organizes a series of workshops and events on the making and the history of glass beads See their story and events calendar here:http://www.doyoubead.com/
In the photos see Muriel Balensi, French glass-beads maker, who lives in Venice, in the atelier she has together with her friend Dominique Brunet in San Barnaba.

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A fashion-music-dance show will take place on May 23rd at the Magazzini del Sale; with percussionist Francesco Tomasutti, the dance performance of Federico Casali, the music of Andrea Mattarucco, the wearable sculptures of Olga Rostrosta and the Haute-Couture Glass Jewelry of the ¿Do you Bead? group.

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Marbled Paper: top quality only until May 2013

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Artisans spend their time on improving their techniques, finding new patterns, inventing variations on the things they produce. When you look at them, they are totally immersed in what they are doing. But in Venice, once the home of some among the most magnificent craftspeople in Europe, they are all disappearing.

The very high rents for workshops and a crazy bureaucracy are forcing many small shops and especially craftspeople to close down (including one of the most important bookshops, not able to pay any longer 9000 euros a month). Artisans are notoriously no managers or lawyers, they can’t keep the pace with the constantly changing administrative requests, neither with the very high taxation. Not to talk of the problems of maintaining a workshop in Venice: acqua alta, humidity, water infiltrations, bricks falling apart.

Can tourists help these precious activities to survive? Yes, they can.

If you visit Venice, please be more selective when you buy souvenirs. It is better to buy some handmade bookmarks for 3 euros each instead of a peace of glass made industrially and of poor quality for 20 euros.

It is better to go and discover the small workshops out of the centre, where things are still handmade with passion and dedication, instead of buying the usual industrial stuff in shops that belong to chains.

Stefano Casati, who produces hand-printed paper, leather and velvet will close his workshop toward the end of May 2013. The colors he uses are unique; he is rather an artist than an artisan. If you are in Venice don’t miss him! If you have friends in Venice, tell them to go and buy their Christmas presents there.

You can find his workshop in Barbaria delle Tole 6676 (close to campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo).

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Venetian Fortresses in the Mediterannean

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Map of the city of Canea (Chania) on Crete. 16th century, ink and watercolor drawing on parchment.

This small exhibition curated by the director of the Doge’s Palace, Camillo Tonini and by Diana Cristante, offers the extraordinary privilege to see original drawings on parchment and on paper made between the 16th and the 18th century of Venetian fortresses in the Mediterranean area.

As many people know, Venice, beside being an extraordinary wealthy and glamorous city, was also a political and military power. The preservation of important outposts in the Mediterranean sea secured the routes of commercial convoys heading toward Alexandria in Egypt, to Constantinople, Cyprus, Haifa and many others destinations.

Gradually Venice enlarged its possessions in the Eagean and Ionian sea; still today the time of the Venetian ruling is called in Greek Venetokratia.

The officers sent by the Republic to administrate these territories, the provveditori, were also in charge of their military defense. If in the 14th century Venice fought above all against Genoa, from the 15th century onward immense monetary and human resources were sacrified in the wars against the Ottomans.

Because of this constant state of war and the development of new weapons, Venice steadily modernised and improved its fortresses in the Mediterranean. The provveditori would send exact drawings and maps of their territories to Venice where all decisions about the necessary interventions were taken.

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Venice glamorous Glass Beads

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Made by blown glass or through lamp-work, of different shapes and colors, enriched by microscopic glass threads, the Venetian glass beads are still today a must-have for every woman living in the city.

In Venice there are still some glass beads shops, different for style and design, where you can find unique pieces.
In the district of Santa Croce, a small shop reveals an incredible variety of beads. The owner of this little and hidden shrine, Cristina Bedin, is a passionate jewel designer who travels throughout Europe, the Mediterranean world and also to the States, to search ancient or vintage beads.
She designs and makes personally the necklaces that you can see in her shop, but she can make up one for you with the beads that you can choose yourself from her amazing collection.

Cristina is also a fabulous narrator and while you are there you can listen to the many stories she knows about this beloved jewel, as for example that in the 17th and 18th century they were used as currency in Africa and in America to trade with the Natives.

The creativity of Cristina Bedin is constantly inspired by the long tradition, the today fashion and by that sense for glamour that has always  accompanied Venetian women throughout the long history of the city.

If in Venice, don’t miss her!

L’Opera al Bianco – Santa Croce 1239/a – Venice
www.operavenezia.com

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The Bridge of Sighs

Sospiri

The covered bridge that lead form the Doge’s Palace to the Prisons has a somber fame. Some people think (and unfortunately write in several books on Venice) that it was named after the laments of those who were going to be executed. This can’t be true, since there are no records about it.

Some others think that the name was given by the english poet Lord Byron in the 19th century, when he visited Venice. This is also inexact.
It is true that Lord Byron quoted the famous Bridge in his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812-18) but the name existed before. Giacomo Casanova in his memories mentions the bridge twice; the second time he says that he passed ‘the bridge called of the sighs’ (in the original french version: le pont qu’on nomme des soupirs) without adding any other information about it.

We might enjoy to invent new stories, but facts are something else.

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Venetian Ceilings – Renaissance, Rococo and Art Noveau

 

Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti

Palazzo Cavalli Franchetti

The interiors of the Venetian palaces are usually in late Rococo style, as to say of the second half of the 18th century. This is due to the fact that Venice was a wealthy city for many hundred years and the families enjoyed renewing the interiors – frescoes, plaster-work, paintings – according to the latest trends. They never felt less important than their ancestors, so they didn’t hesitate to change the older ornamentation.

The only exception is Palazzo Grimani in Santa Maria Formosa. The Patriarch Giovanni Grimani who enlarged in the 16th century this lavish palace in Roman Renaissance style was to become such a prestigious figure in Venetian history that his descendants left some of the many rooms with the original decoration.

In the late 19th century the properties had changed completely. Palaces were sold several times and the owners – Venetians, Italians or foreigners alike – took away whatever they could, from doors to paintings and frescoes, and they tried even to detach the plaster-work from the ceilings.

Some buildings were carefully preserved, like for example Palazzo Barbaro, some other ones were restored almost to their previous beauty, when owners could afford to buy in the auctions furniture and other objects in late 18th century style.

Some of the palaces were refurbished in the style of the time, that today we call Art Nouveau, of which Palazzo Franchetti Cavalli is one of the best example.

See below some ceilings of various palaces in Venice.

Palazzo Pisani2 Palazzo Pisani5 Palazzo Pisani4 Palazzo Pisani3 Palazzo Pisani1 Palazzo Pisani

Music Room Ospedaletto

Music Room Ospedaletto

Ospedaletto Palazzo Grimani Palazzo Grimani Palazzo Grimani

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Manet. Return to Venice.

An extraordinary exhibition on the French painter Édouard Manet (1832-1883) will be held at the Doge’s Palace from April 24th to August 11th 2013.

The exhibition will be an occasion not only to see among the greatest masterpieces of the artist, who was a precursor of the Impressionism and one of the ‘father’ of modern painting, but also to recognize his understanding of the heritage of Italy and Venice. His Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe and Olympia are clearly variations on Titian.

Manet’s work has never been presented in such a significant manner in Italy.

If you would like to book a visit of the Manet exhibition with me, please write me at my email address: cristina@slow-venice.com

Here you can see some of the works that will be on display at the Doge’s Palace:

Édouard Manet. Olympia, 1863

Édouard Manet. Olympia, 1863

Édouard Manet, 
Déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1863-68


Édouard Manet, 
Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863-68

Édouard Manet. Le Grand Canal de Venise, 1874

Édouard Manet, 
Le fifre, 1866

 

 

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