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.