We had a bit of downtime in Marco Polo airport, so we had a quick survey on Angela’s hat:
Here’s the hat.
Catie’s opinion is clear.
Jamie and Dan weren’t so sure.
Joe and Steven were non-commital, but look generally pleased.
Sarah and Alyson are too busy bumping, despite Catie’s attempts to influence them.
What do you think?
Once I got outside the shopping areas, I enjoyed Venezia a lot, and this desire to get outside made me wonder a bit about travel and expectations. What sorts of expectations do we put on the locations we travel to, and how do those expectations fit into our own desires and values?
The answers are probably pretty obvious, but I realize that not all expectations are equal, and this place, Squero di San Trovaso, made me remember what I think of when I think of Venice. It’s one of the last working dry docks in a city that is more water than land, and that in itself says a lot about changing economies and styles of living. I fell in love with the place and hung out there for a bit, mostly of course b/c of my own love of boats, but it reminded me of the idealized view I have of Venice, of this semi-republic with a way of life that sounds pretty perfect to me.
Yep, that’s a lot of water 😉
These sorts of idealized landscapes can be fun, and they remind me of a Japanese anime film that I highly recommend for parents of 11-14 year olds called Porco Rosso. I would swear that the pilot, Marco, comes out of one of these exact boat houses in his float plane in the film. It’s an interestingly utopic view of a trying time (post WWI Italy), and one shaped by this Venezia of the imagination.
We attended Mass at San Marco, the most famous church in Venice, a marvelous experience.
The golden background of the paintings on the walls behind the chapel contrasted nicely with the Renaissance art we’ve seen in Rome, providing a teachable moment that I enjoyed. I’m not so sure about everyone else, of course.
Speaking of teachable moments, I’m curious about the heavier representation of papal figures in church art here. I’ve now seen more modern art in the last two days in Venice (none of which was in a museum) than I have in my first two weeks in Roma (my fault, of course), so there is a thriving, functioning modern art market here (yesterday I witnessed a series of pieces dedicated by an artist from Turin to the publicos (?), covered structures designed to provide shortcuts through private property for those on foot). Because of the heavy emphasis on republican government, papal authority has been more in question here, and the churches have been places to help reinforce that papal power. In a book on Venice I read that Venezians have traditionally placed their faith in Venice at all times, the Church some, and the Pope not at all, and I think it’s useful for us to step outside of the spiritual realm we usually associate with organized religion and look at the ways that power – political, military, and economic – figure into the equation of the formation of large institutions.
Weekends in Venice? Pretty decadent, eh? Unless, perhaps, you’re Thomas Mann.
We’re not, so we had a marvelous time.
I won’t try to list everything we saw, but I’ll give you my quick impressions, and force you to scroll all the way down to see the pics.
On Saturday night, a bit tired of the crowds of shoppers (I’m a guy, so I blame my lack of desire to shop on those Y chromosomes) I walked through San Helena and Giardini, sections of the Venezian lagoon outside of the normal haunts. This park was marvelous – felt like I was in Paris, and I had found where the locals (including the not-so-local college students) live. I stumbled upon a farmer’s market with plenty of fresh veggies and fruits marked as biologicale, which is the EU certification for organic…I also lots of happening spots, with music, and soccer (futbol) on tv with passionate fans. Thankfully, I didn’t see any soccer hooligans (I’ve had, er, unpleasant encounters with that type of crowd before), but of course this isn’t Great Britain. We finished the night with a delicious dinner, at which I had spaghetti alla vongole.
I have spent a couple of hours now in Venice being completely lost, and I enjoyed the experience (except when I had to pee). The close streets feel comfortable to me (because of my love of canyons, perhaps), and I’m fairly confident that as long as I keep walking in a straight line I will hit water, at which point I can get my bearings again. That’s a dangerous complacency, as a traveler, I’m afraid, but Venezia is ridiculously safe in a lot of ways, with a heavy police presence. I’m curious about the local politics, and the mixture of republicanism (with an intentional small ‘r’) and desire for order – as England demonstrates, representative government and omnipresent surveillance cameras are not mutually exclusive. Danilo told me about the city’s constant (?) desire to break away from the rest of Italy – driven by a desire to stop financing a federal government that seems to spend most of its money in the south – and I marvel at the ways in which we as humans take pride in our local organizations and communities despite the supposed inevitability of a global new world order.