Saturday, October 20, 2007

Day 19: Venice

It is bright, sunny and a little cool as I make my run to pick up rolls for breakfast. After we eat, we walk over to the Grand Canal to the San Marcuola vaporetto stop–about a 10 minute walk from the apartment. We hop on the No. 1 vaporetto and stand in the outside area as we motor down the Grand Canal. We get off at the Accademia stop and walk through the Dorsoduro neighborhood to the Peggy Guggenheim museum. In our previous visits to Venice, we hadn’t made it to the Guggenheim collection (or to the Accademia) so we plan to remedy both of those omissions this trip.
The collection of modern paintings was acquired by Peggy Guggenheim and is housed in her beautiful palazzo on the Grand Canal, just upstream from San Marco. When we get there, we realize that we may have made a mistake coming on a Saturday because the place is jammed. The space, while extremely attractive, doesn’t handle crowds that well so there are lots of traffic jams–students with drawing pads sketching and people blocking one’s views of the art. So whether the art doesn’t speak to us or whether the crowds turn us off, our Guggenheim visit isn’t a big success.
However the view from the terrace/landing on the Grand Canal is pretty impressive.
After we leave the museum, we walk further on to the very large Salute church. It was built in the 17th century to celebrate Venice’s deliverance from a plague and was designed by Longhena, one of the most important Venetian architects. It is very large and very baroque outside, set in a large piazza almost directly opposite San Marco.
Inside, it feels almost empty since the ceiling is so high and there is little in the center inside the circle of columns.
There are paintings in the altars on the surrounding walls; the guidebooks said that the plans meant for people to enter straight through the center, toward the high altar, for the greatest effect, but the center is roped off today so we don’t experience that. We walk around the church and then take a vaparetto back up the Grand Canal to the Rialto Market, where we are meeting Nan for lunch.
The ride up the Grand Canal is a treat, especially since the boats aren’t as jammed as they had been on our last trip to Venice two years ago. We meet Nan in front of the clocktower of the San Giacomo in Rialto church
and she takes us to a newish osteria La Ciurma for lunch and to discuss some business. The osteria is an attractive but tiny place, a few stools at the bar, a couple of tables and a small kitchen. We meet the owner who is in the process of cleaning some small red mullets and have a bottle of wine and some cicchetti, talk with the owner and discuss Venice and the travel business with Nan. We do order some of the mullet that had just been cleaned and they come grilled and very delicious.
(tiny place, tiny picture)
After lunch, we hop on the vaporetto and go back to the apartment for a rest and some work. I do a little more exploring in the Cannaregio neighborhood which is still filled with Venetians pushing baby strollers, pulling shopping carts and sitting in bars with a glass of wine or a coffee.
Dinner is at a favorite Venice restaurant, Anice Stellato, which means “star anise”. It has become very well known with tourists as well as being popular with Venetians. On this Saturday evening, we are lucky to get a table for 7:30 pm. It is about a ten minute stroll from the apartment (we like to eat in “our neighborhood”), just over on the next canal. We are seated in the front room which (at this hour) is filled with “foreigners”–French and Americans. The Italians don’t arrive until later and this way the restaurant can turn over about half of their tables since many diners will be coming in at 9 pm or later.

Food is terrific as usual–we both have pasta dishes to start (but the ingredients have slipped my mind) and for seconds, I have the “frittura mista Adriatica”–a gigantic plate full of wonderful delicately fried fish, squid, clams and vegetables. Diana has the “moeche fritti”–small Venetian soft-shell crabs in the same tempura-like style. With the meal, we drink a Muller-Thurgau–a white wine from the Alto Adige–which is new to us but had been recommended by our friend Alessandra in Cortona; it was also excellent.
A wonderful meal–not expensive by Venetian standards (about Euro 75.00 or $110.00 US)…and a nice short walk home.


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