This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for July, 2012

Venice at Night

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 23, 2012

Santa Maria delle Salute

The photo above is Santa Maria della Salute, photographed from a vaporetto at night. This posting will wind up my Venice photos. It’s hard to believe, looking back on the 19 blog postings related to Venice, that we were only there three nights. We packed a lot into 2.5 days! I calmed down a little in Florence, after the relentless touring/photographing in Venice and the islands. Also, we spent Shabbat in Florence, so that cut out a day.

I didn’t have a tripod, so my night photos are limited to what I could do with a high ISO and steady hand. Below is the Rialto Bridge.

Rialto Bridge, Venice

Detail of the Rialto Bridge:

Rialto Bridge, Venice

Souvenir stand:

Souvenirs, Venice

Pilazzo at night, Venice

St Mark’s Square, looking towards the Piazetta. The Doge’s Palace is on the right.

St. Mark's Square, Venice

I’m not sure what this old ship was doing in the Venetian lagoon but it was a challenge to photograph.

Old Ship, Venice Lagoon

Canal, Venice

Canal, Venice

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Lido Venice, Italy

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 19, 2012

Venice at Sunset

I waited nearly an hour to take this photograph of Venice at sunset!

The Lido, or Lido di Venezia, is an 11-km long island built on a sandbar that lies between Venice and the Adriatic sea. It’s a quiet resort area with lavish, colorful hotels and huge beaches. We walked down the main street, Gran Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, from the vaporetto stop to the shore of the Adriatic sea. It reminded me of Tel Aviv, actually.

Like Venice, Lido has canals. Unlike Venice, Lido also has cars and buses.

Venice Lido, Italy

These hotels were photographed on Santa Maria Elisabetta.

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

The Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria was built in 1905. It is known for the more than 7000 polychrome tiles that cover the building’s facade.

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

The entrance of the hotel has a sign inviting passersby to come inside and take photographs, so I wandered around a couple of the art nouveau rooms.

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

I thought this was a St. Mark (winged lion) towel hung to dry but now I see that it’s a banner attached to the balcony.

Venice Lido, Italy

Venice Lido, Italy

Me and the Adriatic Sea.

Venice Lido, Italy

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Video: Sailing along the Grand Canal of Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 18, 2012


 
I shot this video with my iPod while traveling by vaporetto (water bus) down the Grand Canal. The video starts near the Ferrovia (literally, “iron road” = railway!) station and ends just after the Rialto Bridge. It gives you an idea what it’s like to ride on one of these boats. There is some slight distortion because I applied stabilization to the finished video. Otherwise viewers with sensitive stomachs would get sea-sick, believe me. It’s not easy taking videos from a moving boat.

This is what a vaporetto actually looks like:

Vaporetto, Venice

I took this photo (camera on my knee) in the vaporetto to Lido. It was a very mellow moment — no one speaking on a mobile phone, just Italians on their way home from work, chatting, reading the newspaper, or staring out the window, in the golden light of the late afternoon sun.

Vaporetto, Venice

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The Grand Canal of Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 17, 2012

Canal Grande, Venice

The Canal Grande or Grand Canal of Venice is the city’s main water-traffic corridor. It winds in an S-shape from the Santa Lucia train station to St. Mark’s Square. Most of its buildings date between the 13th and 18th century, when it became a mark of social status to have a palazzo (palace) on the main canal of Venice. There are almost no sidewalks along the Grand Canal. The only way to access these buildings is by boat — gondola, vaporetto (water bus), or water taxi.

Canal Grande, Venice

Many of the lovely old buildings have been converted into expensive hotels.

Canal Grande, Venice

Canal Grande, Venice

Canal Grande, Venice

Everything has to be brought into Venice by barge. And, yes, garbage and sewage go out the same way….

Canal Grande, Venice

The Fondaco dei Turchi (below) was built in the 13th century and heavily restored in the 19th century. From the early 1600s to 1838, it was a one-building ghetto for Venice’s Turkish traders (hence, the name). A fondaco is a building that combines a warehouse and residence. The portico on ground level facilitated unloading of boats into the storage rooms on the same level. The residential areas are behind the loggia on the first floor.

Canal Grande, Venice

Between the 13th and 19th centuries, the only way across the Grand Canal was over the Rialto Bridge. After a number of accidents and collapses, the Venetian Republic realised the wisdom of building the bridge with stone instead of wood and this structure was completed in 1591.

Canal Grande, Venice

A depiction of one of the old wooden bridges is preserved in the painting, Miracle of the Cross at the Ponte di Rialto, from 1496:

The church of Santa Maria della Salute was built in 1631 as a votive offering for being delivered from the Plague (salute = health).

Canal Grande, Venice

Canal Grande, Venice

Canal Grande, Venice

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Video: Guitarists in the Venetian Ghetto

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 16, 2012

Gallery, Venetian Ghetto

A couple guitarists in an art gallery in the Jewish ghetto in Venice. I thought they were pretty good, so I made this video. The camera angle could have been better for seeing the fancy picking, but I didn’t think the guy at the desk would appreciate my sitting in his lap. The video was shot with an iPod.

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The Venetian Ghetto

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 15, 2012

Sign, Old Venetian Ghetto

The Jews of Venice were compelled to live in the ghetto from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The Venetian ghetto was the source of the English word, which actually means “foundry,” in reference to a foundry that was located close to the ghetto.

The sign above, “Gheto Vechio,” means “Old Ghetto,” but the name is a bit misleading because the “Old” and “New” ghettos refer to the foundries themselves, not to the Jewish communities. Jews inhabited the New Ghetto first (around 1516), before Levantine Jews began moving to the Old Ghetto (around 1541). The Jewish Virtual Library site has a comprehensive history of the Venetian ghetto.

The photo below is one of the tunnel-like entries into the ghetto. This particular entrance is beside Gam Gam, the popular kosher restaurant, on the Cannaregio Canal.

doorway, Venetian Ghetto

If you visit the ghetto, be sure to take a guided tour at the Jewish Museum in the courtyard. It’s the only way you will be able to see the interior of some of the five synagogues in the ghetto. When we were there, the two large Sephardi synagogues were undergoing repairs, but we did see the other three synagogues. You can’t photograph the interior (and the group was too small for me to surreptitiously take pictures), but the Jewish Museum site has photos of the sanctuaries.

It’s also worth knowing that the Jewish Museum has a kosher cafe and is reasonably priced, much cheaper than Gam Gam. Since it is only open during museum hours, you have to plan to be there for lunch or in the late afternoon, no later than six. The couple who run it don’t speak much English but they’re very nice. I had an excellent piece of fish there. It was small, but seasoned with great care. The azzimi dolce (sweet wine matzah cookies), probably from the Volpe bakery around the corner, are excellent.

Azzime Dolci

The Levantine synagogue, below, was founded in 1541.

Levantine Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

Across the small courtyard from the Levantine synagogue is the Spanish synagogue (below), founded around 1580. It is the largest of the five synagogues in the ghetto.

Spanish Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

Spanish synagogue, frontal view:

Spanish Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

Door of Spanish synagogue:

Spanish Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

Courtyard of the ghetto:

Courtyard, Venetian Ghetto

The photo below shows the Canton Synagogue, which occupies the top floor  of a residential building. When synagogues and apartments were in the same building, the synagogue was always above the dwelling spaces. The origin of the name is uncertain but the most popular theories are that the synagogue was built by the Canton family or that it was called Canton (= corner) because it is located in the corner of the courtyard.

Canton Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

Courtyard, Venetian Ghetto

The German Synagogue (also called Tedesca) is trapezoid-shaped (the Jewish Ghetto of Venice site has floor plans for all the synagogues).  The Ashkenazi synagogues tend to have five windows, which we were told was a deliberate design choice, commemorating the Five Books of Moses. The Levantine and the Spanish synagogues, however, have four windows on their front facades.

German Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

The Italian synagogue (below) was founded in 1575 and is built over apartments. It is the simplest of the five synagogues and quite austere in its decoration, without the lavish gold interiors that you find in the other synagogues.

Italian Synagogue, Venetian Ghetto

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Inside the Doge’s Palace

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 9, 2012

Doge's Palace, Venice

I don’t have too many photos of the interior of the Doge’s Palace because photography is not allowed in the painted rooms. However, they don’t seem to mind photography of the Golden Staircase (see the interactive panorama on ItalyGuides site) and prisons.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice

The magnificent ceilings are carved and painted.

Doge's Palace, VeniceDoge's Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice

Couldn’t avoid the glare off the paintings because I was holding my camera in my lap, while sitting on a bench. This is the Grand Council Chamber. For a much better view of the ceiling and decorations, click on the panorama on the ItalyGuides site. It is breathtaking and my photos don’t do it justice. You can scroll up and down and around, since it covers 360 degrees. You can also zoom in and out with the mouse wheel.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Doge's Palace, Venice

Meanwhile, down in the prisons… This is the passageway on the south side of the Bridge of Sighs. No fancy stone lattice here, just bars.

IMG_4556-2.jpg

IMG_4559-2.jpg

Doge's Palace, Venice

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Doge’s Palace, Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Top of Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge’s Palace (Doge = Duke) in Piazza San Marco is always on the list of “must see” sites in Venice. The oldest parts of the palace were constructed in the fourteenth century. Many of the original sculptures and capitals have been moved to the palace museum and replaced by copies.

The palace was damaged by fire several times and rebuilt. For a detailed history of the building itself, see the Wikipedia article. These photos show the exterior of the palace, but I wasn’t able to go all the way around the building (at least not without a gondola…). The palace is quite extensive, so allow plenty of time to wander around.

The first photo was taken at the top of the Giants’ Staircase. The colossal statues, which give the staircase its name, are Mars and Neptune, representing Venice’s power by land and sea. They were carved by Jacopo Sansovino, who carved many of the sculptures of St. Mark’s basilica, in 1567.

The Giants’ Staircase was also the site where the Doge was crowned. If you look closely in the next photo, you’ll see that even the steps are carved.

Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo shows the staircase against the background of the palace, which rises two stories above the loggia behind the staircase. The palace is a magnificent example of Venetian Gothic architecture.

Giants' Staircase, Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo looks directly into the Porta della Carta, originally the official entrance of the palace. The tunnel leads to St. Mark’s basilica, which appears in the upper right corner of the photo. I noticed that a lot of Italian cathedrals (Siena cathedral, for example) have magnificent coloured marble facades on their “public” sides. The sides facing other buildings are often plain red brick.

Doge's Palace, Venice

View into the courtyard of the Doge’s palace. The two round objects are cisterns.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Giants’ Staircase viewed from the side:

Doge's Palace, Venice

Courtyard of the Doge’s palace, with the dome of St. Mark’s basilica visible over the clock tower.

Doge's Palace, Venice

The clock tower (1615) is on the Secret Itinerary tour.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Courtyard surrounded by two-storey loggia:

Doge's Palace, Venice

I don’t know who this woman is. I just included her for scale. She is looking out of one of the elaborately decorated windows on the storey above the loggia.

Doge's Palace, Venice

Queen carved on a fourteenth-century capital. Probably a reproduction.

Doge's Palace, Venice

The next photo shows the Porta della Carta from the Piazza San Marco side, i.e., at the other end of the tunnel. In the carving above the lintel, Doge Francesco Foscari  kneels before the winged lion, symbol of St. Mark and of Venice. The carving is a nineteenth century work by Luigi Ferrrari, to replace the original, which was destroyed in 1797. St. Mark stands above the entrance on the Gothic pinnacle. I took the next three photos from the walkway on the outside of St. Mark’s Basilica.

Porta della Carta, Doge's Palace, Venice

“Judgement of Solomon,” carved by Giovanni Bon and his son, Bartolomeo Bon, on the northwest portico beside the Porte della Carta:

Doge's Palace, Venice

Detail of angel on the upper story of the portico:

Doge's Palace, Venice

The Doge’s Palace was not only a private residence; it also housed courtrooms and prisons and torture chambers. (The torture chambers are not open to the general public. You have to book the Secret Itinerary tour.) We did go over the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri), through the passage facing away from the lagoon.

The Bridge of Sighs, built in 1602, was named during the Romantic Period after the sighs of prisoners who were taken from the Doge’s courtrooms to the prisons on the other side of the canal. There are actually two passages over the bridge. I took this photo from a bridge over the canal.

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

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Murano, Island of Glass

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Glass flowers, Murano

Murano, although thought of as an island in the Venetian lagoon, is actually a string of islands joined by bridges. Today it is best known for its glass-making. If you’re going to be in Venice for a few days, it’s worth a trip.

The photos above and below are planter boxes filled with glass flowers.

Glass flowers, Murano

Murano

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Window, Murano

Glass Sculptures, Murano

Glass Sculptures, Murano

The Santa Maria e San Donato Cathedral is one of the oldest in the area. Parts of the building date back to the seventh century. Saint Donato of Arrezo, the patron saint of the church, was a fourth century martyr. I’m sorry we didn’t think to go inside because we missed the dragon bones! Yes, there are four large bones hung on wires behind the altar, the ribs of a dragon that the saint killed by spitting. Apparently the bones are too large to be those of cattle. Here’s a photo from the blog of an English Catholic priest.

Santa Maria and San Donato Cathedral, Murano

Of course I always have to photograph a few doors and walls…

Blue Door, Murano

Most of the Murano Museum of Glass was closed for renovations when we were there last month but a few rooms were open. Below is a photo of an amazing 19th century miniature garden made entirely of glass. It was commissioned by one of the doges as a dining table centerpiece and covers an area about the size of a ping-pong table.

19th Century Glass Centerpiece, Murano

Below is a smaller glass centerpiece, of a similar date.

19th Century Glass Centerpiece, Murano

We stopped at Vetreria Rossetto Estevan to watch a lamp-working demonstration. A glass artist carefully teased a molten lump of glass into a graceful horse, reheating the glass when it cooled, to soften it. I found something funny when I did a Google search on this vetreria and found some photos on Flickr taken three years ago — different artist, same glass horses!

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

Glass Demonstration, Murano

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Colored Houses of Burano

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 8, 2012

Colored Houses of Burano

Is it possible to walk around Burano for the first time and not smile at the brightly colored houses? The streets look like bags of jelly beans. Murano also has brightly colored houses, but it doesn’t come close to Burano. We spent a few hours in Burano to check out the lace museum and walk around, but it wasn’t easy getting from point A to point B when I had to stop and photograph houses every few minutes. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I didn’t discovery photography in the days of film camera; I would have bankrupted my family.

Colored Houses of Burano

Green Shutters

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Burano, Commemorative Plaque

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

Colored Houses of Burano

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