I have been to Venice before. A long, long time ago. A distant memory ago, in fact.
The immigration process from Russia back then involved a lengthy stint in Western Europe before being granted entrance into the United States. We we lucky. We were based in Rome. I’ll tell you all about it someday. For now, I’ll just tell you how my father, who knew a good thing when he saw it (I mean, just look at my mom), made sure that our good fortune wasn’t wasted.
We saw as much of Italy as our meager savings would allow. Pisa, Capri, Florence, Pompeii…..and, of course, Venice.
And now here I was in Venice again. On my second vacation to Europe in less than a year. Taking photos of St. Mark’s Square with a ridiculously overpriced camera while sipping an eight dollar espresso and sending an “I miss you” text to the incredible man who I was soon to marry. (Jesus, I can’t even type this without getting overwhelmed by the gift that is my life. A life which would have been impossible were it not for the bravery of two people who refused to play the cards they were dealt.)
On my second day in Venice, I woke up on the later side and took my time getting ready and enjoying a leisurely breakfast outside — which may or may not have included a slice of a chocolate and hazlenut flourless cake. (I didn’t take any photos of the cake in question. Cause then, you know, it’s like it never happened.)
Then, armed with my trusty Streetwise map, I set out.
If you ever want to know what a mouse in a lab experiment feels like, go to Venice and then try get from point A to point B using a map. It’s impossible. The streets are too tiny, the bridges too many, and the canals too similar. If it were not for the persistent signs pointing to the city’s major points of attraction I would likely still be sitting in some Venetian cafe muttering, “Who wants to see the stupid Basilica anyway.”
But oh… how getting hopelessly lost in Venice is so worth it.
At a certain point I stopped looking for the signs pointing to San. Marco and just followed the human, camera-clad stream. Until, without warning, I crossed under yet another archway and found myself here:
I meandered around the square for a bit, marveling at the architecture and the Japanese tourist girls with their sun umbrellas and, I kid you not, elbow-length white gloves. I visited the Correr Museum and Napoleonic Wing, entranced by the ornate woodwork and frescoed ceilings. I stood at the edge of the pier, and thought, once again, how this city shouldn’t exist.
And then I looked at my watch and realized that it had been nearly five hours since I’d last had a carb. So I hightailed it back towards an hosteria I had earmarked for lunch earlier. Not surprisingly, I had no trouble finding it.
Carb fix taken care of, it was time to see some more art.
I happened to be in Venice during the 55th Venice Art Biennale. The Biennale di Venezia is one of the biggest international contemporary art events in the world. It takes place in Venice once every two years. The first Biennale was held in 1895.
There are major installations and exhibits throughout the entire city and most are free to the public. I happened to stumble upon an exhibition titled, Culture – Mind – Becoming, a collection of works by a group of Chinese artists. The exhibition, which “aims to juxtapose the cultural impact, appropriation, reflection, and reinvention existing in the Chinese culture through the lens of globalization,” was excellent.
Below are some of my favorite pieces:
The element I found most striking about this exhibit was the fact that these contemporary works were held within the walls of the Palazzo Mora, a vestige of centuries past that still maintained much of its original grandeur. Art within art.
I ended my day with a less than memorable meal, but a most memorable sunset.
Categories: NYC & Travel