Thursday, March 29, 2018

About antiquarians, hilarious fish heads, Byzantine mosaics and glass Murano beads.

This is the last post about my experience in Venice. Do you love antiques? mosaics? Tintoretto? glass beads?

Campo San Tomà.

If you are found of antiques, the area around Campo San Tomà is THE place to go. You best go in the morning then you have the best chance there is somebody present. I went to Mr. Umberto Guarinoni 's place a few years ago and saw him processing and carving a mirror out of wood that would be finished with a gilded layer. His shop is full of remarkable furniture, beautiful paintings and smaller items like coffee cups, plates, drinking glasses, putti, wall sconces: stuff you can take with you in your suitcase. I always leave some room in mysuitcase for unexpected  purchases. This year I was eager to go to the shop again,  alas the sign on the door said that he would be back in a few moments. I waited some 15 minutes, asked the friendly lady at the mask shop opposite about him; she said he was in his shop in the morning; she added that his shop was one of the oldest of Venice. You can find the shop at Calle del Mandoler 2862, Campo San Tomà. He restores and sells antiques. More antique shops in the area.

Scuola Grande di San Rocco

This Scuola hosts lots of huge pictures, mostly by Tintoretto. The stairs to the Chapter Hall are very grand; they are flanked right and left by pictures and the hall itself has richly carved wooden paneling underneath huge pictures. I asked an attendant which school this was and he explained that it wasn't like a school with students but a place where same-minded people gathered, like a fraternity. They engaged in charity among other things and the fraternity still continues to do so.  It was extremely cold inside. The curtains of the many windows stay close to protect the paintings with a very cold, almost damp inside as result 

Stair case in Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.
Stair case in Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

Paneling in Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.
Wooden paneling in Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

The Fish Market.

Probably the Rialto will be on your to see list. You should go and see it and while there visit the fish market. It is a very colorful and lively event open on Tuesday till Saturday from 7:30 AM till 12:00 PM. When there please look up at the pillars supporting the roof and have a look at the capitals: instead if acanthus leaves, they have fish heads! What a fantasy and imagination! Hilarious!

Capital of the fish market, Venice
Capital of the fish market, Venice.


If you love glass art, take a vaporetto to Murano, an island belonging to Venice. The houses are not as grand as on the main island but it has a more intimate atmosphere.

Murano: more intimate then Venice

You ''ll get your fill for glass work but Murano offers a lot more: there are a couple churches worth visiting like the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato famous for its Byzantine mosaics. Actually, this might be the only time you can walk on a mosaic, not admiring it from a distance.

Byzantine mosaics in the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato, Murano
Byzantine mosaics in the Basilica dei Santi Maria e Donato, Murano

and in the Chiesa di San Pietro Martire you can admire paintings of Tintoretto (for free 😉 ).

Open air glass sculpture, Murano
Open air glass sculpture, Murano

Looked for a gondola atelier and found beads instead.

I had red about gondola workshops in the Dorsoduro area near the sea, found the place and saw some gondelas in different state of finishing. Some one was painting the gondola with small strokes and a rather small brush, while another gondola was still in bare wood. Can you imagine doing this, a gondola can be 11 m long! Too bad the owner didn't allow me to take pictures.

From there I had planned on taking the Accademia bridge to  continue to Piazza San Marco and have lunch in the very beautiful Caffè Florian. Unfortunately the bridge was in repair and I have no pictures to show you.

The year I visited  Murano, I wasn't interested in beads yet. This year, while still at home and  because I had only one day in Venice, I prepared my bead hunting and found some bead shop addresses but the shops didn't exist any more. I had visited several shops on our way to Il Paradiso Perduto  but either the beads were to expensive or the wholes were too small.  On my way to the bridge I saw a shop selling glass works and this time I was lucky: I found some affordable beads at De Laurentis, a "Lavorazione Artistica Vetri A Lume" in  Dorsoduro, 1638, San Basilio, Zattere.  I am very happy with my 5 beads. Wait and see what I'll do with them (Link to my shop).

Favorite pictures:

To finish off this Venice sequence are some of my favorite pictures. Wandering through Venice, you inevitably get lost. But you experience your visit more intensely, you see the city with your heart, not only with your eyes; just strolling around is the best way to discover a city or place. During my wandering, I came across this picturesque recess, I remember the area but I have no idea where it is located exactly. How very elegant this pillars are!

Recess in Venice
Picturesque recess in Venice.

Here is another favorite picture: look at the colors, the variety and freshness of the vegetables!

fresh vegetables in Venice
Fresh vegetables at a greengrocer

and this picture shows the garden of the Belgian Embassy, viewed from the street. The open doorway to the garden resembles a giant keyhole!

Garden at the Belgian Embasst.
View of the garden, Belgian embassy.

When in Venice or rather when travelling, don't linger in bed! Get out early in the morning, mix with the locals heading for their jobs and feel like a resident! Go early in the morning for the Rialto (covered bridge), take some time to experience the fish market and have a look at the fish headed capitals; from there walk about 15 min to the Campo San Toma and watch out for antique shops. On your way, you'll see numerous churches and old palaces or other grand buildings, most likely open for an exhibition of some kind. In the afternoon take a vaporetto to Murano (you'll pass by an island that is the Venetian cemetery) and admire the skills of a glass blower creating f. i. a glass horse, visit the churches and wander around the on the island.

I hope you enjoyed my tour through Venice! If you have any questions, don't hesitate and ask them, using either the comments section below or the contact form in the left column. See you!

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