By the time we arrived in Venice, it was already mid-afternoon. Actually, that was perfect because at dusk the sunlight shifts from accentuating the classic architecture to flickering off the canals. The effect is unreal… And besides the lattice of traditional buildings and squares connected by zig-zagging bridges and alleys, there's also the fact that there are no cars. Yes, Florence had the narrow roads as well, but they were always buzzing with mini cars and scooters. In contrast, Venice has a real laid-back feel, forcing you to slow down and be hypnotized by its atmosphere.
But although I felt Venice's pace was more laid-back than Florence's, the city felt more modern and alive, culturally. It probably had something to do with what we chose to do. The first thing we did the next morning was visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. In contrast to the Ufizzi or Accademia, the Guggenheim is filled with works she collected from artists that she believed in. The pieces were purchased to keep in her house, chosen from artists that she wanted to help. It just happened that she was in the middle of many cool movements… Picasso, Braque, Degas, Giocometti, Miro, Mondrian, Cornell, Ernst…
Above, Calder. Below, Mirko.
A later, interactive addition by Yoko Ono. Guess which wish I added to the tree?
On the way out, we noticed a wheatpasted poster for an exhibition of early photography by Stanley Kubrick. It wasn't far away–practically right across the Grand Canal at the Academy of Science, Letters, and Arts.
Even in his early twenties as a photographer for hire, the master director had a cinematic eye. His depictions of a young shoeshine boy, a traveling circus troop, and other subjects were perfectly composed, had a powerful narrative voice, and were tack sharp even blown up to be shown as framed pieces. I can't believe we stumbled on a show like this.
We also checked out the Architectural Biennale. Most of the international pavilions were at the Armory, but we found Taiwan's entry right on the boardwalk. It consisted of an air-conditioned room with cushions and projected imagery of nature.
Pleasant, but it's hard to beat the ambience of Venice itself. I could see why Wendy would fall in love with it when she was a college student studying abroad… Below, her old apartment.
Window shoppping–not buying, because we aren't in the market for Murano glass or in the right tax bracket for the designer boutiques.
And her old Italian professor, Paolo! I saw a lot of cool scooters everywhere but only heard cheesy pop until we met Paolo at a bar, where The Style Council was on the stereo. Nice, and a super nice guy, too!
Later on, we went to Harry's Bar. Yes, it's touristy but Hemingway used to hang out there and we had to try the 8-Euro hot chocolate. The richest ever.
Great place to get lost, wander around… I'm horrible at relaxing, yet I had no choice but to ease up and take it in.
Luckily it's too expensive for us to ever get used to it. Even locals are getting squeezed out by wealthy folks and celebrities who buy vacation homes in Venice.
More pictures and more details in GR68 (at the printer now), where Wendy gives her side in the My Perfect Day section. Next stop: Milan.