Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Books in the Library

My Venice library keeps growing! I've added my latest additions on Library Thing. Check it out, you may find some ideas for holiday presents for the Venetophiles in your life. And, if anyone out there has any Venice books for sale, feel free to contact me!

I took the photo in May 2007. It shows one of the books in my collection (Chow! Venice) on the table in the apartment I rented. Undoubtedly I was looking for a good restaurant -- and this book is always a great help.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Olio Nuovo - new 2007 Olive Oil

Thanks to those of you who responded to my question about the construction in San Marco. I'll get to them later in the week. We on the East Coast of the U.S. had our first snowfall of the season -- and I'm tired from cleaning the sidewalks...

But, even if the dollar is keeping us here in the states, we can still taste Italy. If you are an olive oil fanatic, as I am, you have to get Olio Nuovo (I can post this now that my order is in! :-))

Here's a link to Casa de Case, importers of fantastic olive oils, including the just pressed that I'm addicted to. Kris and Howard Case (who are fellow Venice lovers). As their website says:

We distribute directly to the finest restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area, and we ship to fine specialty stores across the country. We also sell to consumers via this web site.

Once a year, immediately after the new oil is crushed at the Olivestri frantoio (olive oil press and factory), we airfreight it in for immediate distribution. We are one of the only sources in the U.S. offering this rare and wonderful olio nuovo.

Disclaimer: They don't pay me to say I love their olive oil and I don't give them any advance notice that I'm posting anything about them. And, I've already placed an order, but I think I'll go order some more. Drizzle this oil on toasted sourdough bread and you will be in heaven....

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What's This?

Who's in Venice tonight? I was looking at the San Marco webcam and saw this. What's the purpose of the tower and the construction barrier? If you know, email me at The first person to answer gets a book from my Venice library (disclaimer: I'll pick it from one of my duplicates).

If you want to check out my library, click on the link on right.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Skipping Venice?

With the euro threatening to go above $1.50 US, how many of you are going to forgo a trip to Venice and hope that a change arrives soon? I'm one of those people. As much as I love Venice, I'm not ready to pay 50% more. So I'll spend the time getting my Venetian library and photos in order. Maybe I'll even post more often!

But, it looks like the euro/dollar conversion didn't stop many people this year. "Italy's Venice on track for record tourism year" is the headline of an article on the AFP website. The city's tourist office expects the year to end with a total of 20 million tourists visiting!

The article also says:
"The number of tourists expected to visit the city from now until the end of the year without spending a night there has been estimated at between 11 and 12 million, the official said.

"The ratio between foreign tourists and Italian visitors has remained constant at 80 percent to 20 percent respectively.

"Americans continue to be the largest group of visitors with 1.15 million spending at least one night in the northern Italian city.

"The number of Japanese tourists has declined by more than seven percent this year, while Russian visitors have shot up by 31 percent. Spanish tourists were up by nearly 18 percent and French visitors had increased by almost 11 percent."

Send us an e-mail postcard if you go!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Weird Sex Wins Again

From Reuters:

Ang Lee film is surprise winner in Venice
Sat Sept. 8, 2007 3:13 PM ET

By Mike Collett-White and Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Taiwanese director Ang Lee's sexually explicit "Lust, Caution" was the surprise winner of the Golden Lion for best picture at the Venice film festival on Saturday, just two years after he won with "Brokeback Mountain."

The movie is a World War Two thriller set in Shanghai featuring long and sometimes violent sex scenes which Lee has hinted were real.

"It is overwhelming, because this movie has taken me to some very difficult places," Lee told the red carpet award ceremony on the Lido waterfront.

"I have invited you to come along with me and in the end to stay down there with me ... You are the seven samurais, I needed your help," he added, addressing the seven-member jury.

Brian De Palma, whose "Redacted" shocked audiences in Venice with its brutal reconstruction of the real-life rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers, won the Silver Lion award for best director.

Tunisian-born director Abdellatif Kechiche and his drama "La Graine et le mulet" ("The Secret of the Grain"), was one of two runner-up jury prize winners, and was described by the jury as the "revelation" of the 2007 edition of the festival.

The film is about an old Arab man and his family seeking to realize their dream of opening a restaurant in southern France.

While not overtly political, it touches on the issue of integration by immigrants, and whether they have what the director called the "right to be different."

Todd Haynes' "I'm Not There," one of six U.S. productions in the 23-strong main competition, took the other runner-up prize for his conceptual biopic about singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

In a bold piece of casting, Australian-born Cate Blanchett was one of six performers to play the singer at various stages of his life, and it paid off when she was named best actress in Venice this year.

Hollywood star Brad Pitt was the surprise winner of the best actor award for his portrayal of outlaw Jesse James in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

His co-star, Casey Affleck, who played James' killer Ford as a creepy social misfit, had been widely expected to scoop the prize.

Venice director Marco Mueller, facing competition from festivals in Rome and Toronto, succeeded in attracting some of Hollywood's biggest stars, although his decision to invite so many U.S. films was criticized for making Venice too commercial.

Pitt and partner Angelina Jolie came to the canal city with their children, and George Clooney, Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, Charlize Theron and Keira Knightley all wowed the noisy crowds gathering along the red carpet each night.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Venice in the Summer

In yesterday's return posting, I asked people who had visited Venice this summer to share their story with me. Thanks to Judy for sending the following.[I took this photo of San Michele in May 2003. Click on the photo to enlarge it--it looks much better.]

If you'd like to tell us about your summer trip to Venice, email me at

Hi Sharon - glad you're back!
We were in Venice in May, stayed in an apartment in the Castello (Vaniglia Green, and not a bad place at all). That gave us the opportunity to experience Venice at night, what a treat!

I wrote a piece on L'Isola di San Michele, if you're interested, online at
World Photo Adventure: Secret Venice: L'Isola di San Michele.

Most tourists think visiting a cemetery is pretty bizarre, but we love them,
and this one has so much history, we need to revisit it again!
Ciao -

Judy Kiel

Monday, September 03, 2007

Weird Venice is Back!!!

Hello to all Venice lovers,
First, I apologize for the lack of posts, but I took the summer off to get used to a new job, think about Venice's future and enjoy my vacation. But I'm back and excited. A lot has happened in Venice this summer and I'll try to catch up with some highlights including the new bridge and a report on my visit in May. In the meantime, I'll leave with an image of dawn over the Grand Canal from one of my favorite webcams. It's why I love Venice.

Did you go to Venice this summer? Tell me about it ( and I'll post your comments.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Get Up Early

I just got this photo from the Grand Canal webcam. It's 5:30 in the morning and, as you can see, it's deserted.

If you're going to Venice, experience it the way few tourists do--set your alarm for 5 AM, go out and wander the streets. Watch the light change as the sun rises. Finish your morning tour at the Rialto fish market and join in for an early-morning ombre and shrimp sandwich. Then go home and take a nap.

Pearl Jam Blown Away (Literally)

This comes from Reuters news service:

Venice whirlwind injures 25, blows out Pearl Jam gig
Fri Jun 15, 2007 3:32PM EDT

VENICE (Reuters) - A whirlwind hit Venice on Friday, injuring about 25 people and forcing the cancellation of a festival headlined by rock band Pearl Jam was to have played, police and fire services said.

The whirlwind hit late in the afternoon, bringing down sound towers and girders on the stage for the Heineken Jammin' Festival as well as trees in the surrounding park. Several vehicles were overturned by the strong winds.

The damage forced the cancellation of the festival, organizer Roberto De Luca told local media.

The park where the concert was to have been held was on the mainland part of the city and there were no reports of damage in the city's historic centre in the lagoon.

Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari said 19 people had been taken to hospitals but only one suffered serious fractures, news agency ANSA reported.

Traffic on the bridge that connects the lagoon city to the mainland was temporarily disrupted by debris.

The Friday night concert was Pearl Jam's only Italian appearance on their current tour.

The band sold over 9 million copies of their debut album "Ten" and their track "Man of the Hour" was on the soundtrack for Tim Burton's film "Big Fish."

© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Biennale Blog

Want to keep up with the latest from the Biennale? If so, check out the New York Times ArtsBeat Blog. Enjoy!

June 10 update: even if you're not an art fan, you should take a look at this blog. It's well written (as I'd expect from the NY Times) and really makes you feel as if you're in Venice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Venice Daily Photo

There aren't many Venice blogs. I try to post often, but often fail because of things that get in the way: my job, my family, my dog, my other writing...

One blog that I like and check frequently is ">Venice Daily Photo. I don't know anything about them, but I love their photos. And, I often discover a new part of the place we love.

This photo, of Campo Zanipolo in the Castello Sestiere, is from today's Venice Daily Photo blog.

Monday, May 14, 2007

NY Times Features Woman Gondolier

Maybe the NY Times reads Weird Venice (see my April 1 article)... Today, there's a photo of Alexandra Hai on the front page. Inside, there's an article about her quest to become the first female gondolier.

"For more than a thousand years, Venice has had gondolas but never a female gondolier. But now there is Alexandra Hai."

Here's a link to the article.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Buy a Book

This has nothing to do with Venice, but please read on anyway.

Some of you may know that I am also a mystery writer. Recently, I learned that a fellow mystery writer, Elaine Viets, suffered a stroke last month--just as her new book was being released.

Here's more information:

Mystery authors step in on book tour for colleague felled by illness

The community of crime fiction publishing was rocked in April when Elaine Viets, author of the Dead-End Job Mystery series, suffered a serious stroke shortly before publication of her sixth Dead-End Job Mystery, Murder with Reservations (0451221117). But when it came time to show support, mystery authors nationwide rose to the challenge.

With Viets, now recovering rapidly in a Florida hospital, unable to travel, word spread quickly throughout the community that others might fill in for her at pre-booked stops on her Murder With Reservations book tour. So now, coming to a bookstore near you, is the Elaine Viets tour—without Elaine Viets.

At bookstores from Dayton, OH to San Francisco, CA (with stops in San Mateo, CA Dallas, TX and Charles, MO among many others) mystery authors will fill in for Viets and discuss her work as she recovers. Viets is signing bookplates available from BreakThrough Promotions (with SASE) to anyone wanting a signed copy of Murder With Reservations.

At Main Street Books in Charles, MO, for example, Joanna Campbell Slan, Vicki Erwin and other authors will read from Viets's books on May 26. Viets will be attending the annual mystery writing conference in Dallas on June 15 and 16—in the form of a lifesize poster as colleagues tell their favorite Elaine Viets stories. A get-well card for Viets will be available for signing at Books N Company in Dayton, OH on May 14. Twist Phelan will stand in for Viets at Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ on May 9. Authors like Jan Burke and others will attend events elsewhere as part of the "tour." Tour details are updated daily here.

The Dead-End Job series takes Helen Hawthorne on a wild series of jobs meant to make ends meet. In Murder With Reservations, she's a hotel maid—a job Viets says deserves a lot more respect than it gets.

So, help out a writer who can't promote her book--go buy it! And guess what? You'll enjoy reading it!

Bookplate Offer

As part of her "therapy," Elaine will be signing bookplates for all of her fans and friends. We cannot guarantee the exact time frame, since she is recuperating.

To get your bookplate, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
Elaine Viets Bookplate
BreakThrough Promotions
903 Clover Hill Lane
Cedar Hill, TX 75104

Offer good for a limited time only, while supplies last!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Venice Report Coming Soon...

I'm just back from a week in Venice. The suitcase still isn't unpacked (the dirty clothes are gone!), but the photos have been downloaded. Here's one of the new statues near the Rialto market. (Click on the photo for a larger view--she's cute.)

More detailed reports to follow!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

200 Things to Do in Venice

Whenever I tell people that I'm on my way to Venice--again--I'm frequently asked why I keep going back. "What's there to do?"

Slow Travel has the answer: 200 Things to Do in Venice.

Here are the top 10 in San Marco:

San Marco

1. The Doge's Palace. Take the regular tour, or walk through it with an Audio Guide or Guide Book.

2. The Doge's Palace. Take the Secret Itinerary Tour, see rooms that are off limits to other tours.

3. Basilica San Marco. Inside, outside, the Treasury, the Loggia, the Pala D'oro, and the Baptistery.

4. The Campanile. Look down on the onion domes, and all of Venice. There is an elevator to the top although when you descend again you exit through a different door than the one through which you entered; important if you are planning on meeting someone after your visit to the top. If you are there when the bells ring you may find it a glorious or a rather painful experience, depending on how sensitive your ears are. Warning: Unless you like looking like Marilyn Monroe in the famous scene from The Seven Year itch, never wear a full skirt to the top of any campanile.

5. La Zecca - the mint - now the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana. When not open for exhibitions, it may be seen by special arrangement with the Director. In addition to ancient books and maps there is a Titian fresco, ceiling medallions and paintings by the leading Venetian artists.

6. The Piazzetta dei Leoncini. Next to the Basilica San Marco.

7. The Piazzetta. Do not walk between the columns of The Lion of San Marco and San Teodoro, complete with crocodile, very bad karma. It was once the place for public executions.

8. Libreria Sansoviniana. Opposite the Doge's Palace. Built by Sansovino and topped with statues.

9. Museo Correr. Allow lots of time for the regular collection and any special exhibits.

10. Museo Archeologico. Enter through the Correr.

The list was compiled by uth Edenbaum is the co-author of Chow! Venice, Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima. She lives in central New Jersey and spends more than two months a year in Venice. Ruth exhibits her photos on (I've mentioned Ruth's book, Chow! Venice before. You can buy autographed copies through the site.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ads to Appear on Vaporetti

This comes from ANSA news. I took the photo last May.

Venice lifts ban on adverts
After shunning them for years, city to test the water
VENICE (ANSA) - After refusing for years to even consider allowing advertising on the water buses that plough up and down the Grand Canal, Venice city council has finally decided to allow a timid experiment.

For eight months, and only on the Grand Canal, city hall will let selected advertisers put carefully monitored publicity on the sides of five of the 'vaporetti' that do the busy run between the station and St Mark's Square.

The money raised with the unprecedented venture will be used to improve the transport system in a city which runs 150 boats to move locals and tourists around between the Venetian islands.

The council has not said how much it will charge the companies that win the chance to advertise on a route travelled by millions of tourists every year.

In order to avoid unsightly or vulgar advertisements that could jar with the spectacular backdrop, a special council panel will examine all publicity before it is put on the side of a vaporetto.

Earlier this month, the council also decided to allow publicity on scaffolding covering the front of certain historic buildings on the Grand Canal during restoration work.

Approved in the interests of raising money for preserving the city, this was a temporary exception to a longstanding rule aimed at ensuring the city's main waterway retains its traditional appearance.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sad News for Venetians

This story from THE PLAIN DEALER (Cleveland, Ohio) makes me sad.

"The last active preschool in the heart of Venice will be converted to a hotel, another sign that Venice is gradually losing locals and moving toward becoming exclusively a tourist attraction. In 50 years, the population has dropped from 175,000 to 61,000, with some 50,000 tourists visiting every day."

Is our love of Venice killing the things we love about it?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Venice under water in 'few decades'

People, it's time to do something. Here's a sobering article from, News in English.(I took this photo in November 2002. It was my first experience with Acqua Alta.):

UN climatologist sees grim future for lagoon city
BRUSSELS (ANSA) - Venice could find itself under water within a few decades if current climate trends continue, a top United Nations climatologist said on Friday.

Over the next 30 or so years rainfall in the northern Mediterranean will increase by 10-20% as a result of global warming, said Osvaldo Canziani, deputy head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Speaking at the presentation of the IPCC's bleak new report on climate change, the Argentinian expert said that despite efforts to slow down a global rise in sea levels, the situation everywhere was "increasingly critical".

Referring to Venice, a city built on mud islands in a lagoon at the top of the Adriatic Sea, he said: "The water of the lagoon will continue inexorably to rise. If things carry on like this, Venice is destined to disappear".

The IPCC groups 2,500 scientists and is the top world authority on climate change.

It has been known for years that Venice is gradually sinking into the sea but the process was believed to be slower than implied by the authoritative warning from the IPCC deputy head.

Flooding is already a constant problem for Venice and the picturesque St Mark's Square, a must on Italy's tourist trail, is covered with water dozens of times every year.

Experts say there are three main reasons for high water in the city: the rising floor in the lagoon caused by incoming silt; the undermining of the islands by the extraction of methane gas in the sea off Venice; and the overall increase in sea levels caused by global warming.

In a bid to combat flooding, a 4.3-billion-euro flood barrier system is being built.

The 'Moses' project consists of 79 barriers, designed to rise from the seabed to block the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea when high tides are forecast.

After 30 years of debate and testing, the project was inaugurated in May 2003. Despite countless polemics and delays, about a third of the work has now been done and completion is scheduled for 2011.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Venice Finally Approves Female Gondolier

For centuries, Venice's gondoliers have been men. Now, in a history making move, a woman has been approved to be a gondolier (after ten years of trying). Here's the article from the Sunday Times. (

(Note: the photo does not show the woman gondolier. I took this shot in May 2004--when Alexandra Hai was still trying.)

Lady with a gondola turns tide in Venice

John Follain

SHE may have failed the basic canal-navigating exam three times and sing only while taking a shower, but Alexandra Hai has made waves in Venice by winning a 10-year battle to become the first woman gondolier.

The struggle pitted Hai, 35, against one of the world’s most exclusive all-male cliques – the 405 members of the Venice Gondola Association, all of them Italian men.

She celebrated with a dinner of champagne and Florentine beef on Friday after the administrative tribunal for the Veneto region recognised her right to navigate her gondola throughout Venice for customers of the three one-star hotels where she works.

“I’m thrilled because I was beginning to doubt there was any justice left in Italy,” Hai said yesterday. “The gondoliers in Venice make up a caste, that’s for sure. They’re not all male chauvinists, but the ones at the top fought against me as a woman.”

Hai, the daughter of an Algerian civil servant and a German midwife, grew up in Germany and spent four years in America before moving to Venice in 1996.

“A man at a market in San Francisco gave me cuff-links with gondoliers on them and that’s what gave me the idea of moving to Venice,” she said.

Her first plan was to become a film-maker, but three days after her arrival in the canal city, she boarded a gondola for the first time. “I’ve got a bit used to it now, but being on a gondola is a magical, emotional moment for me. The way a gondola is made is extraordinary, and it transmits to visitors what Venice is more than anything else,” she said.

Asked if she was married, she replied: “I’m married to the gondola.”

Three years after her arrival in Venice, after coaching by a few friendly gondoliers, she took her first examination to obtain a license. She was motivated partly by a desire to help improve the reputation of the gondoliers, who are notorious for fleecing tourists.

She failed her first 20-minute test, officially because of a botched manoeuvre, but won an appeal on the grounds that there were no women in the examining commission.

In two subsequent attempts, which saw two women join the commission, she bumped into another gondola in choppy waters, then failed to keep hers – and the judges sitting in it – steady when she met a motor-boat coming the other way under a bridge.

After the third failure, Hai initially said she would give up and leave Venice. But she returned to the fray and for 18 months defiantly took her customers around the city aboard her gondola. “Some gondoliers would shout insults and make rude gestures at me as I passed them. I didn’t like that because even though the words were in Italian, my customers understood,” she said.

In mid-October, a municipal police launch stopped her on the Grand Canal and fined her £92. She was told it was the first day of a city hall ban on the use of gondolas “for private and commercial ends” – effectively defending a monopoly held by the Gondola Association.

She and her employers appealed against the decision, which led to last week’s ruling in her favour. “There is frankly no reason why, in a city like Venice, customers cannot be offered a transport service like a gondola,” the verdict said.

Hai aims to restart work on Wednesday, offering gondola rides as part of a package which includes the hotel room, a bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers. “We want to ensure tourists don’t get ripped off,” she said.

The city hall plans to appeal to a higher court. Franco Vianello Moro, head of the Gondola Association, has said the strict tests and a limit of 405 on the number of gondoliers helped to preserve a unique tradition. “Sexism had nothing to do with it,“ he said.

But Hai’s triumph was hailed as a victory against the rigid corporations which rule over a host of services from markets to motor launches. “I defend Alex against the Gondola Association. This city is in the hands of corporations,” said Count Girolamo Marcello, a prominent Venetian resident.

Elio Dazzo, president of the Venetian hoteliers’ association, said he hoped the ruling would mark the beginning of liberalisation. “Today hotels aren’t allowed to send their own boat to fetch tourists. The result is thata water taxi from the airport to the historic centre costs £80. The city hall should be more open about this,” he said.

When Hai boards her gondola again, her customers will not, however, hear her sing O Sole Mio, the serenade favoured by her more established colleagues. “I sing only under the shower,” she said. “And in any case lots of the gondoliers who think they can sing, can’t. You often have to pay extra for a real singer.”

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Pigeons: From the NYTimes Archives

I've been carrying this clipping around for a few weeks and am finally getting around to posting it. The NY Times has recently put its articles--dating back to 1851!--online. If you're a subscriber, you can access 100 articles a month. If you're not a subscriber, each article costs $4.95. As a subscriber, I've been having a great time reading about Venice. Here's an article which was originally published on November 10, 1895. The copyright belongs to the New York Times.

From the London Daily News

The other day at Venice a gentleman who was visiting that city bought some Indian corn with which to feed the historical pigeons in Piazza San Marco. While the birds were feeding, a diamond fell from the ring he was wearing, and was immediately swallowed by one of the pigeons. The gentleman put out his hand to try and catch the bird, but in doing so frightened the whole flock, which flew away to the Doge's Palace.

I've been searching the archives, but can't find a follow-up to the story. I can only imagine...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Weird Venice Seal of Approval: No Vulgar Hotel

No Vulgar Hotel, by Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners), may be the Weird Venice bible. Martin has done a great job capturing all that is "weird" about Venice. From Great Moments in Venetian History (Marin Fuller the only doge, and maybe the only ruler in history, who planned a coup--to get rid of himself!) to Venetian festivals (e.g. Su e Zo i Ponti di Venezia or "Up and Down the Bridges--you get the idea) to famous tourists (from Galileo to Dame Edna), Martin covers all the things that make us Venetophiles. If you don't already have "Venetophilia," you will when you read this book!

Here's what the publisher says about No Vulgar Hotel(and I agree!):
The definitive manual for the hopeless Venetophile.

Love of Venice can strike anyone, not just romantic wusses. Among the toughies with serious cases were Lord Byron, Richard Wagner, Ezra Pound, and Ernest Hemingway. Symptoms include:
* Wishing that the movie stars in films set in Venice would move aside so that you can get a better view of the scenery.
* Wondering why people ask if you had good weather when you were there--as if rain could dampen your love.
* Thinking that people who go to Tuscany or Provence must be nuts.
* Believing that the "Per San Marco" street sign with arrows pointing in opposite directions makes perfect sense.
* Consoling yourself when you leave by remembering the generations of Venetian merchants who, as they were borne away from Venice, vowed to be back as soon as they had more money.

There is no cure for this affliction. This is a guide to managing it. 35 illustrations.

P.S. The title comes from Henry James's The Wings of the Dove. Milly Theale says she wants to stay in Venice, "...if possible, no dreadful, no vulgar hotel."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Weird Venice Seal of Approval

I've been thinking of people, places, books, etc. that I think are noteworthy and trustworthy and should be used by anyone journeying to Venice. So, I'm creating the Weird Venice Seal of Approval. My first award goes to Views on Venice. I discovered them on my third trip to Venice and have happily rented from them ever since. It's nice to say that I've never been disappointed. I'm repeating a post from February which tells why Views on Venice is the first recipient of my Seal of Approval.

Updates: Renting an Apartment

The photo is taken from the window of Ca' Gondola, which is mentioned below.

Recently, I’ve been looking at some of my older posts and decided it was time to follow up on a few of them. Tonight, I'm starting with Views on Venice.

A number of years ago, I read about "self catering" or rental apartments. I'd been to Venice twice and was anxious to be more than a tourist on my next visit. So, I turned to the internet, which was still in its early days. No TripAdvisor, no Expedia, no SlowTravel. I was pretty much on my own.

After some searching, I found Views on Venice and Ca' Giulia --the best apartment I have ever rented. I've had the pleasure of staying there twice and dream about renting it again.

Since then, I've rented Ca' Vidal (directly across from the Academia), Ca' Belle Arti, Ca' Gondola (you'll never find a better view!), and others. I have never been disappointed.

Why the update? Because I've been meaning to write about something that happened to me in December. I left work late and missed my train. I usually have a book to keep me company, but that night I was bookless. So I went to the newsstand to find something to read. I picked up the December 2006/January 2007 issued of Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel because on the cover they were advertising: "Renting an apartment in Venice." Sold!

I got on the train and settled down to read about apartments in Venice. Imagine my surprise when the first thing I saw was a photo of "my" bedroom in Ca' Belle Arti! It's a nice article--check it out. The online version is interesting, but the magazine version has more pictures.

Congratulations, Filippo and everyone else at Views on Venice. And thanks for all you've done to make our visits to Venice memorable!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Man Convicted of Setting La Fenice Fire Arrested

This article comes from the ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mexican police detain man convicted in 1996 fire at Italy's La Fenice opera house

11:48 a.m. March 2, 2007

ROME – Mexican authorities have arrested an Italian electrician convicted in the 1996 fire at La Fenice opera house in Venice, authorities in the two countries said.

Police detained Enrico Carella in the resort city of Cancun and authorities plan to extradite him to Italy, the Mexican Attorney General's office said in a statement Thursday.

The Mexicans were tipped by Italian police who discovered Carella was in the country by monitoring his contacts with friends back at home, the ANSA news agency reported.

Carella, 37, had been on the run since 2003, when Italy's top criminal court upheld convictions on arson charges for Carella and fellow electrician Massimiliano Marchetti, sentencing them to seven and six years in jail respectively, ANSA said.

La Fenice, a late 18th-century opera house, was being renovated when the two electricians torched it the night of Jan. 29, 1996, to avoid fines their company faced for being behind in its work. The electricians admitted starting the blaze but insisted they only wanted to cause minor damage so they wouldn't have to pay the fines.

La Fenice, which means phoenix in Italian, rose from its ashes in December 2003, reopening its doors to the public after years of reconstruction.

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Feaure: My Library

Over the years, I've collected quite a few books about, and set in, Venice. Now, thanks to LibraryThing, I've got them online. Feel free to browse and add reviews, if you'd like.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tintoretto in Madrid

Today's NY Times has an interesting article about the Tintoretto exhibit in Madrid's Prado. "The Jacopo Tintoretto show at the Prado here [Madrid], through May 13, is the first full-dress retrospective since the one in Venice in 1937. Tintoretto painted too much, too unevenly, and too many of his pictures are too huge to be moved."

If you can't get to Madrid, you can see some of the paintings, and read the article in the NY Times Arts section.

The Last Supper, shown here, is included in the exhibition. According to the Web Gallery of Art:
The church of San Giorgio Maggiore was built on the San Giorgio Island between 1566 and 1600 using the design of Palladio. After 1590 the workshop of Tintoretto was commissioned to paint big canvases for decorating it. Due the large number of commissions, Tintoretto in his late years increasingly relied on his coworkers. However, three surviving paintings placed in a chapel consacrated in 1592 - The Harvest of Manna, The Last Supper and Entombment - were certainly painted by Tintoretto himself.

Tintoretto painted the Last Supper several times in his life. This version can be described as the fest of the poors, in which the figure of Christ mingles with the crowds of apostles. However, a supernatural scene with winged figures comes into sight by the light around his head. This endows the painting with a visional character clearly differentiating it from paintings of the same subject made by earlier painters like Leonardo.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Gadget: Currency Convertor

There's a new gadget in the links sidebar: a currency convertor. Check it out--although you may not be happy to see that the dollar doesn't buy many euros. However, it's a great reason for our Venetian friends to visit the US.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Record Crowds at Carnival

It's all over for this year's carnival. From experience, I know the drunken roar of the crowds has instantly and mysteriously ended. Venice is probably very silent now that Lent has begun. I could almost hear the city sigh... According to news reports, carnival was a great success this year. Here's an article about the record-breaking crowds:

"A record 140,000 people crowded St Mark's Square and the narrow streets of Venice over the weekend as the city's carnival prepared to draw to a close with Tuesday's traditional Mardi Gras celebrations.

Organizers said the attendance rate, aided by sunshine, was the highest in recent years and spoke of this year's edition as 'a great success.'

'We hadn't seen these kind of crowds since the early 1990s,' a spokesman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa on Monday.

During the weekend, organizers awarded the Best Mask of 2007 to a German woman, Tanja Schulz, who paraded through the streets of Venice dressed up in an 18th century hot-air balloon costume.

The Venice Carnival ends on Tuesday with La Mascherata, a masked pageant in St Mark's Square, and a Marching Bands Collision, in which Latin American bands will play on the go, bumping into Scottish bagpipe players in the process.

Celebrations are due to be wrapped up with a high-tech pyrotechnic display, in which the bangs of fireworks will be replaced by synchronized music controlled by a computer.

The opening song of the show is to be John Lennon's pacifist hit Imagine.

This year's edition of the carnival was dedicated to Carlo Goldoni, a popular Venice-born 18th century playwright."

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Monday, February 19, 2007

Last Day of Carnevale

Closing Fireworks for the last day of the 2007 Carnevale start tomorrow night at 23:00
Place: Riva degli Schiavoni
Grand Fireworks Display and Music from the 2007 Carnival
Partcipation costs: Free

Send photos if you go!

Springsteen, Sting and Others in San Marco Concert

First seen on the web on

Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, and maybe Andrea Bocelli. These are the stars that in June could be in St. Mark's Square for two very special concerts for "Emergency", an humanitarian association directed by Gino Strada. The days are already fixed: Friday June 29th and Saturday June 30th. But the cast of the shows isn't completed. Lots of rumours about two others events: Sir Elton John that could play in St. Mark's Square in June and Maestro Ennio Morricone that will be in front of the Basilica on September 10. No tickets are available at the moment but soon we'll inform you about this marvellous Venetian Summer.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

10,393 Miles Away!

If you look at the bottom of the page, you may see a little icon for Sitemeter, which counts visits to Weird Venice. I love looking at it to see where visitors live.

Tonight my longest long-distance visitor comes from Melbourne, Victoria! 10,393 miles away from my desk. Thank you. I am thrilled to have someone from so far away drop in to read my blog. One of these days I'll skip a trip to Venice and come visit you! Thanks.

Updates: Renting an Apartment

The photo is taken from the window of Ca' Gondola, which is mentioned below.

Recently, I’ve been looking at some of my older posts and decided it was time to follow up on a few of them. Tonight, I'm starting with Views on Venice.

A number of years ago, I read about "self catering" or rental apartments. I'd been to Venice twice and was anxious to be more than a tourist on my next visit. So, I turned to the internet, which was still in its early days. No TripAdvisor, no Expedia, no SlowTravel. I was pretty much on my own.

After some searching, I found Views on Venice and Ca' Giulia --the best apartment I have ever rented. I've had the pleasure of staying there twice and dream about renting it again.

Since then, I've rented Ca' Vidal (directly across from the Academia), Ca' Belle Arti, Ca' Gondola (you'll never find a better view!), and others. I have never been disappointed.

Why the update? Because I've been meaning to write about something that happened to me in December. I left work late and missed my train. I usually have a book to keep me company, but that night I was bookless. So I went to the newsstand to find something to read. I picked up the December 2006/January 2007 issued of Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel because on the cover they were advertising: "Renting an apartment in Venice." Sold!

I got on the train and settled down to read about apartments in Venice. Imagine my surprise when the first thing I saw was a photo of "my" bedroom in Ca' Belle Arti! It's a nice article--check it out. The online version is interesting, but the magazine version has more pictures.

Congratulations, Filippo and everyone else at Views on Venice. And thanks for all you've done to make our visits to Venice memorable!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Carnevale Starts! February 9 to 20, 2007

A few years ago, I finally made my way to Venice for Carnevale. What I remember most is that the noise from the drunks in Campo San Stefano that kept us awake all night (we were renting this great apartment), the car in the campo and the snow. We didn’t attend many of the events, but had a great time exploring the deserted parts of the city.

Being in Venice on Ash Wednesday, the day after Carnevale, was amazing. A snowy hush quieted the city. The crowds had instantly disappeared, as if Harry Potter had waved a magic wand and spirited them away. We were treated to a sleepy (hungover?) city. We were accepted as people who were in Venice because they loved Venice—not because they wanted to join the drunken hordes.

So if you’re going to Carnevale, have a great time! Please quiet down in the wee hours of the morning so the other folks can sleep. Pick up your trash. Don’t clog the bridges. And stay over for a day or two after the party ends. You’ll be glad you did!

I took the photo from the window of my apartment. It's the car that had been displayed in Campo San Stefano. I took the photo on the day after, when they were loading the car to take it away.

To see the program of events, go to You'll also find the following story about Carnevale:

The Carnival is Venice!
It is going to be like a gigantic chariot drawn by a thousand horses, accompanying guests and Venetians through the streets of Carlo Goldoni and his company, now three centuries old.

Its name? Carnival!

It will be a voyage of discovery in a fantastic world, made of music, theatre, games and magic. A whirling universe where people from every country can experience the jokes, the masks, and the make-up. Where you can play hide and seek, then reveal yourself and...amaze.

You will return to the truth of “Carnovàl,” magic and enchanting, to forget what you don’t like, don’t need, or don't want.

The Queen will be disguised. She will astonish her people and make men and women from all countries fall in love with her, through colour and coyness.

History, tradition, emotion, will be offered with mock modesty and immense allure.

Venice, Carnival, a single soul, a single idea ...undivided.

“Is Venice the Carnival ? No gentlemen, pardon me: Carnival is Venice!”

If you go, have a great time. Send photos and stories to me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Little Foggy Tonight

It's a bit foggy tonight (this is from the San Marco webcam). Can you spot any pigeons?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Can't Find a Good Meal in Venice?

My first restaurant experience in Venice was not a good one. When we got to Venice after a week in Rome and Florence, we were tired and unprepared for Venice. A bit overwhelmed by the beauty and the maze of street, we didn’t wander too far from our hotel (Monaco & Grand Canal—pre-makeover) in search of our first lunch. That means we were at the mercy of the restaurants surrounding the San Marco area. And that’s not a good place to be.

Still, we were happy to be lured in by the waiter shilling outside his restaurant. The fish was fresher than anything we’d ever tasted (although looking back, I'm not so sure about the quality--I think we were overcome by Venice), and I’ve never looked for the receipt to see what we were charged because I’m sure it was too much. All I remember is that the waiter cheerfully took my credit card. After the bill was settled, he told us he’d made a mistake and didn’t put our wine on the bill. Could we pay in lira so the boss wouldn’t notice his mistake?, he asked. Of course, we were happy to help out.

Now if you’re going to Venice for the first time, or the 1,000 time, you can avoid mishaps such as mine (given the exchange rate, every penny counts!) by taking along Chow! Venice, Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima, A guide to restaurants and bars in Venice by Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum. The second edition was recently released and I highly recommend it for anyone searching for a good meal (or drink) in Venice.

As the intro to the book says, you may not find your favorite restaurant in this book, but you will find “places that we go back to again and again, that are consistently good and that treat tourists well.” In addition to reviews, Chow! Venice includes some handy tips (like the different ways to order a spritz) and the always-vital directions, as well as the usual opening hours.

Order autographed copies through the authors’ website ( If you order an autographed copy, the autograph--and postage!--are included. The website also has updates on restaurants in the guide.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dreams Do Comes True

I love this story from our friends at BUONGIORNO VENEZIA - The News from Venice (published weekly by VENICEWORD INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SERVICES). I took the photo in May 2004. Click on the photo to enlarge it and check out the broom the sweeper is using. They're handmade (I once got lost and came across a place where a sweeper was putting his broom together) and have probably had the same design for centuries.

The story reminds me of the Jimmy Buffett song, "It's my job..."*

Here's the article:

The dream of Federico Bastianelli, a street cleaner in Falconara Marittima (a little town in the Marches region in the centre of Italy) came true at dawn on 6 January. Last September, he made a wish, hoping to be able to clean St. Mark's Square, and the councillor responsible for the environment granted it. At 5:30 a.m. on 6 January, together with a team of Venetian colleagues, he began his work shift in front of the timeless splendour of the Basilica and of the Doge's Palace. "I love my job in Falconara," Federico says, "but to do it in Venice is beyond comparison." At 10:30 a.m., the end of his work shift, AIPE (Association of Commercial Businesses) offered him a toast, and Federico, beaming with joy for having accomplished his greatest wish, was only able to say: "I am very happy."

Congratulations to Federico.

* "In the middle of late last night I was sittin' on a curb
I didn't know what about but I was feeling quite disturbed
A street sweeper came whistlin' by
He was bouncin' every step
It seemed strange how good he felt
So I asked him while he swept

He said 'It's my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me.'

"It's My Job," by Jimmy Buffett, from his album Coconut Telegraph (1981)

Monday, January 15, 2007

YouTube in Venice

Given my weakness for webcams (I like to watch), I'm not sure exploring YouTube was a good idea. but, it's fun nonetheless! Go watch a bunch of homemovies about trips to Venice....

"Venice Italy 'In a Nutshell,'" is my favorite so far. Got a favorite Venice video? Let us know.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

John Singer Sargent's Venice Paintings Coming to NYC

The painting is John Singer Sargent's Gondoliers' Siesta, c. 1904. Next week, an extensive exhibit of Singer's Venice paintings opens in NYC. From there, it goes to Venice. Here's an excuse to visit Manhattan (as if you should need an excuse!).

From the Adelson Gallery website:


New York, NY (Autumn 2006)—John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), one of a few truly international artists of the 19th century, had a love affair with Venice: He traveled there numerous times over 40 years. Adelson Galleries in New York, noted for its expertise in American art and the work of John Singer Sargent in particular, has organized an exceptional loan exhibition, Sargent’s Venice, comprising approximately 60 oils and watercolors painted by the artist from the 1880s until 1913. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery from January 19 through March 3, 2007 and then will travel to the Museo Correr in Venice—marking the artist’s first-ever solo exhibition in that city—where it will be on view from March 24 through July 22, 2007.

Sargent’s Venice will be organized as a journey down the Grand Canal, following the artist’s route from a gondola perspective and examining his choice of viewpoints and compositions. A majority of the paintings to be shown are on loan from private collections and have rarely been on public view; several institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, are loaning important works as well.

Inspired by the idea of idea of retracing Sargent’s routes down the Venetian waterways, Warren Adelson, president of Adelson Galleries and the sponsor of the Sargent catalogue raisonné, saw this approach as a means to gather together the Venice pictures that appear throughout several volumes of John Singer Sargent: The Complete Paintings (Yale University Press). “We had decided to write about John Singer Sargent's years of painting in the city that he most loved, and realized that in his long career and in the intervening years after his death in 1925 that there had never been a one-man exhibition of his work in Venice,” Mr. Adelson said. “Sargent's Venice will showcase the range of his painting in oil and watercolor over a span of forty years. It will be the first such exhibition in New York (Adelson Galleries) and, remarkably, the venue at the Museo Correr in St. Mark's Square in Venice will be the first exhibition of Sargent ever held in that magical place.”

John Singer Sargent was born in Florence to American parents and lived most of his adult life in England. Widely recognized as the preeminent portrait painter of his generation, he felt equally at home in Europe and the United States where he painted many of the most notable social and political figures of his day. When Sargent felt the need to escape the demands of his portrait commissions, he traveled to Italy and Switzerland with friends and family to paint (usually out-of-doors) whatever appealed to him. Of the many places he visited over the course of his long career, the allure of Venice surpassed all other destinations and it is where he produced some of his most evocative and masterful oils and watercolors—many painted while sitting in a gondola.

Featured in Sargent’s Venice will be not only pictures of beloved Venetian scenes, such as the Rialto Bridge, the Doges Palace and Santa Maria della Salute, but also scenes of traditional Venetian life including intimate glimpses captured of the interiors of wine shops, residents strolling along the streets, women at work stringing beads, café settings, and more. Among the most recognizable works to be seen will be The Sulfur Match (1882), Gondolier’s Siesta (1905) and Street in Venice (ca. 1882).

Adelson Galleries is uniquely qualified to present the artist’s work in this context. In 1980, Warren Adelson, an internationally recognized authority on Sargent, initiated scholarship on the John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raissoné in partnership with the artist’s great-nephew, Richard Ormond. To date, four volumes of the Catalogue Raisonné have been published by Yale University Press; Volume IV was released in October 2006. The gallery has also made significant contributions to the study of American art through critically acclaimed loan exhibitions and accompanying publications including Art in a Mirror: The Counterproofs of Mary Cassatt (2004-2005), Sargent’s Women (2003), Maurice Prendergast: Paintings of America (2003), From the Artist’s Studio: Unknown Prints and Drawings by Mary Cassatt (2000), Childe Hassam: An American Impressionist (1999) and Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes (1997).

Assisting Mr. Adelson in organizing Sargent’s Venice is Elizabeth Oustinoff, director of Adelson Galleries and co-author of Sargent Abroad. A fully illustrated accompanying book of the same title will be published by Yale University Press in January, 2007, with essays by Mr. Adelson and Ms. Oustinoff as well as by Richard Ormond, co-author of The Complete Paintings of John Singer Sargent (Yale University Press) and former director of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England; Elaine Kilmurray, research director of the Sargent catalogue raisonné project and co-author of The Complete Paintings of John Singer Sargent; William H. Gerdts, professor emeritus of art history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and author of highly respected articles and books on many aspects of American Impressionism; and Rosella Mamoli Zorzi, professor of Anglo-American literature at the Università Ca’ Foscari, Venice, and co-curator of the exhibition Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle, organized by the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2004 as well as the author and editor of several publications.

On January 17, a gala benefit evening will be held from at Adelson Galleries for Venetian Heritage, Inc., a not-for-profit organization based in the United States whose mission is to encourage and support artistic and intellectual initiatives and cultural exchange between the United States and Italy; to safeguard the Venetian cultural heritage as manifested in architecture, music and fine arts, in Venice and its former dominion; to sponsor exhibitions, lectures and conferences intended to stimulate interest in the urgent and never-ending needs of Venice; and to familiarize people all over the world with the problems of the city. Patron tickets are $150 per person/$300 per couple and Benefactor tickets are $250 per person/$500 per couple. For more information about this special evening, please call 212.439.6800.

Adelson Galleries is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:30-5:30, and will be open on Saturdays during this exhibition from 10-5. The galleries are located 19 East 82nd Street, New York, NY. Tel: 212.439-6800. Fax 212.439.6870.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

When Murano Beads Ruled the World

Visitors to Venice often succumb to the lure of Murano glass. Few of us realize that the shiny glass beads once were of vital interest all over the world. I was rooting around in the New York Times archives and stumbled upon an article which was originally published on November 30, 1917.

Bead Supply Is Menaced.
Invasion of Italy Affects the World-wide Monopoly of Venice.

Washington, Nov. 27.--The menace to Venice from the Austro-German campaign [of World War I] in Northern Italy strikes sharply at one line of trade in which the whole world is interested. It is the trade of glass beads. Venice is the bead capital of the world. In the South Sea Islands, the heart of Africa, under the North Pole, Tibet, Patagonia, at the uttermost corners of the earth will the handiwork of the Venetian artisan be found. In this country tons of beads from Venice find their way into the handiwork of our Sioux, Chippewa, and Five Tribe Indians.

Harvey Carroll, American Consul at Venice, in a dispatch just received by the Department of Commerce, says that the Venetian bead-making industry is a monopoly and controls a world-wide exporting business, shipping to Africa, India, Oceania, Asiatic countries, Europe, and the Americas. It makes the beads that are used as money by certain tribes in the Congo and in German West Africa, and ships many thousands of tons of bead ornaments to the savage as well as the civilized nations of the world.

The offices of the company are in a magnificent old palace at Murano, the Palazzo Trevisan, which boasts frescoes by Tiepolo. The foundries and factories cover many acres of ground. Before the outbreak of the European war this company kept in storage more than 4,409,245 pounds of manufactured beads. At the present time less than one-fourth this quantity is in stock, and production has greatly decreased, owing to difficulty in securing fuel and raw material.

While exploring, I found the Venetian Bead Shop, which has some interesting information on blowing glass beads and other information. I know nothing about them, but if you're interested in Murano
beads, this could be a place to start.

A friend (thanks, Marie) sent me a link to Prairie Edge, which claims to have the " last and the largest collection of Italian glass beads (over 2,600 different styles and colors) from the same Venetian guild that supplied fur traders in the 19th century. The Societa' Veneziana Conterie closed its doors in 1992 and Prairie Edge acquired all the remaining inventory, over 70 tons in all. View exquisite examples of finished Plains Indian beadwork. Most of the beads on display are offered for sale in Sioux Trading Post." How the collection wound up in South Dakota is not explained.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Sad News to Start the Year

<span style="font-weight:bold;">This has nothing to do with Venice, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Our house and our hearts are empty tonight. Gretel, the retired Seeing Eye dog who lived with us for the past two and a half years, died suddenly today (she would have been 12 next month). Last month, she passed her physical with flying colors. This morning, after her walk and morning treat, she collapsed. Never losing consciousness, she remained fully aware. We rushed her to the animal hospital and learned she had massive abdominal bleeding brought on by cancer. Instead of prolonging her life with painful treatments, we let nature take its course and, tearfully, let her go.

We didn’t have Gretel for long, but each moment was wonderful. She was a great ambassador for the Seeing Eye organization. She was a beautiful girl and strangers would often stop us to ask about her. When we told people about her working life as a Seeing Eye dog, people were fascinated.

At first, Gretel was serious, no doubt trying to figure out what her new “job” was supposed to be. Soon, she figured it out. Her job was to get petted whenever possible! She turned into a slightly goofy dog, who was always happy, always happy to see us.

True to her training, Gretel didn’t bark much–but she did quack! On her first day with us, my sister gave Gretel a stuffed, plush duck that quacked when you pressed it in the right place. Gretel soon used her ducks (her brood grew to six) to let us know she was happy. She ran around the house, duck in mouth, quacking at us. She’d also move her ducks around when we weren’t watching. Sometimes they’d be scattered around the house; sometimes they’d be in a pile; this week she had them in a semi-circle around her bed. I’ll remember Gretel quacking!

Gretel was a good girl, who really enjoyed her retirement. Thanks to the Seeing Eye Organization for giving us the opportunity to have Gretel become part of our lives. We hope to adopt another Seeing Eye dog as soon as possible.