30 September – 2 October 2011
Venice is a fantasy world. Everything is too perfect: the architecture, the art, the fact that you must take a small boat everywhere. Plus, the cluster of small islands is over-run with more tourists then Venetians.
Venice + tourists + perfect architecture = Disneyland
After our Italian test, JC, Sar, and I hopped on the 13:30 train to Venice. After three hours, we were there! Finally in Venice! Our hostel was easy to find, we ate a decent Italian dinner, and we went to bed early so we could start Saturday off running!
We spent the morning exploring our neighborhood. It was so nice to walk along the canals and find architecture. We discovered the entrance to the Venice School of Architecture (designed by one of my favorite architects: Carlo Scarpa), the University of Venice Faculty Offices (also by Carlo Scarpa), and the museum Querini Stampalia (again, by Carlo Scarpa). Scarpa, a native Venetian, is one of the architecture gods that most architects worship. The simplicity and perfection of his Japanese inspired designs are what we all try to achieve. Visiting Querini Stampalia, is a pilgrimage destination for every architecture student and was one of the reasons Sar, JC, and I wanted to visit Venice. The Querini Stampalia houses a collection of modern art in a very elegant way. Everything was thought of: the materials used for the floors or handrails, the weight of the door and placement of the hinges, and a moat was added along the floor to accommodate for the rising waters every year. The back garden was very serene and was given just as much care as the interior of the museum, with small water features and café. We also enjoyed photographing the beautifully crafted bridge that leads to the entrance.
After carefully examining the Querini Stampalia for several hours, we ventured to the Arsenale for Venice’s Biennale d’Arte. The Biennale is THE international, contemporary art exhibition. The art was… interesting. There was a unique pavilion for each country to display their exhibits in. My favorite piece was in the general submissions and was made of wax and was always changing. I think at the start of the Biennale, it was a full statue, but as the show has gone on, these large candles melted, leaving their remains as an ever changing, piece of art.
That evening we wandered around the narrow alleys, ate pizza, and sat under the Rialto Bridge watching the tourists, listening to the gondoliers sing in their red and white striped shirts, and screaming as we saw a rather large rat slink into the waters of the grand canal.
Up early again, this time to attend mass and St. Marks Cathedral. This cathedral is covered in gold and byzantine mosaics. Next we took the ferry to San Michele, the cemetery island. Here we were able to see the graves of writer Igor Stravinsky and some popes. Then we headed to Murano, know for their glass blowing.
Last, JC and I visited the Doge’s Palace in Piazza San Marco. Venice was a republic for hundreds of years before the unification of Italy. The Doge was the elected leader of the city and was chosen from the most important political families of Venice. He held this office for life and represented the opinion of the people when the city council made executive decisions. We toured through the Doge’s apartments, the chambers of the city council, the prison, and the Bridge of Sighs.
Despite how touristy Venice has become, I just loved it! The architecture is stunning. Though built slowly over so many years, each palazzo seems perfectly planned to fit with the one next to it. I found so much beauty in the pointed arches, white marble, and the slow decay of wood from the rise and fall of the tide. Each bridge effortlessly slides across the canals allowing for the passing of pedestrians above and gondolas below.
Sights of Venice:
Top-Left: Sar, JC, and I at Piazza San Marco. Top-Right: Pigeons everywhere, even in the drinking fountains.
Bottom-Left: Interior of Doge’s Palace looking at San Marco Cathedral. Bottom-Right: Yeah. 🙂