Category: General Venice (45)

THE YOUNG TINTORETTO AT GALLERIE DELL’ACCADEMIA

This year Venice is commemorating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19-1594) with a series of landmark exhibitions, conferences and other special events exploring his remarkable artistic legacy.

Hailed in his lifetime as one of the greatest painters of his day, Tintoretto has continued to dazzle and influence subsequent generations of artists and art lovers – ranging from John Ruskin, who once observed “I never was so utterly crushed to the earth before any human intellect as I was today before Tintoret,” to Henry James, who stated, “No painter ever had such breadth and such depth… Titian was assuredly a mighty poet, but Tintoret -well, Tintoret was almost a prophet.”

Among the highlights of this year’s anniversary celebrations is a major show at the Gallerie dell’Accademia dedicated to the first decade of Tintoretto’s artistic activity – a period of his life that to date has remained veiled in mystery.  No records of his training survive (though an early biographer suggests that he was briefly apprenticed to Titian), and as exhibition curator Robert Echols comments, “There is actually not one firmly documented painting by the young Tintoretto.  Every attribution has to be based on the visual evidence.”

THE YOUNG TINTORETTO AT GALLERIE DELL’ACCADEMIA

With a view to unravelling this elusive and hotly debated chapter of his career, the Accademia has brought together an impressive body of over 60 works produced between 1538 (the year in which Tintoretto’s activity was first officially recorded with a work for the church of San Geremia) and 1548.

At the core of the exhibition is a collection of 26 exceptional paintings firmly attributed to the young master, culminating in The Miracle of the Slave –  a monumental canvas widely regarded as his great breakthrough, depicting St Mark rescuing a slave about to be tortured for worshipping at his tomb.  Together with important works from the Accademia’s permanent collection, the show also features a number of prestigious loans from private collections and international museums, such as the Conversion of St Paul from the National Gallery of Washington and Apollo and Marsyas from the Wadsworth Atheneum, on display in Italy for the first time.

Alongside these autograph works – many of which are restlessly experimental in technique and design – the exhibition also presents a broad spectrum of paintings, drawings and prints produced in Venice during the 1530s and ‘40s by a number of Tintoretto’s contemporaries such as Titian, Pordenone and Sansovino. Intended to “share with the public what the cultural and visual experiences of the young Tintoretto could have been” (Paola Marini, Director, Gallerie dell’Accademia), these contextual works provide a fascinating framework within which to consider Tintoretto’s early paintings, shedding significant light on the artistic stimuli that may well have influenced the development of his revolutionary mature style.

The Young Tintoretto is on view at the Gallerie dell’Accademia until 6th January 2019. 

With the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale in full swing, the city is overflowing with innumerable exhibitions and installations by leading architects and designers from around the world.  Over the coming weeks, we’ll be picking out some of our personal highlights from this year’s Biennale – but today, we’re shining a spotlight on Carlo Scarpa (1906 – 1978), one of Venice’s very own home-grown architects, whose modernist masterpieces form an integral part of the city’s rich architectural fabric.

Born and raised in Venice, Scarpa is widely regarded as one of the most important Italian architects of the 20th century.  Before focusing his career on architecture, he worked with glass, serving as creative director of the prestigious Venini glassworks on Murano from 1933 to 1947. It was here that he first displayed his appreciation for craft, often working with the Venini glassblowers late into the night to perfect new designs.

It was not until after WW2 that Scarpa began to be recognized internationally for his architecture, leading to a series of commissions in and around Venice – many of them involving the renovation of existing buildings. As an architect, he became known for his instinctive approach to materials, combining artisanal techniques with modern production methods.

Utterly imbued with the textures of Venice, he worked primarily with wood, glass, stone and concrete to blend his very modern designs into the historical context of his native city.

CELEBRATING CARLO SCARPA: VENICE’S PIONEERING MODERNIST ARCHITECT
Monumento alla Partigiana
CELEBRATING CARLO SCARPA: VENICE’S PIONEERING MODERNIST ARCHITECT

We’ve picked out a few of our favourites:

Negozio Olivetti: Tucked under the Procaturie Vecchie in Piazza San Marco, this showroom for Olivetti typewriters and counting machines was recently restored and reopened under the auspices of FAI – the Italian equivalent of Britain’s National Trust.  Originally envisioned as a “calling card” for the iconic Olivetti brand, the immaculately designed interior features mosaics and water channels that mimic acqua alta across the floor, while an irregular floating staircase is both perplexing and harmonious.

Aula Mario Baratto, Ca’ Foscari: Serving as the main seat of Venice’s main University, Ca’ Foscari is one of the city’s most important palazzi, dating from the 15th century.  Scarpa worked on it between the 1930s and 1950s, with notable interventions including the Aula Mario Baratto – a magnificent space dominated by high Venetian gothic windows – which he masterfully overlayed with a striking wood-framed screen.

Monumento alla Partigiana: Situated on the edge of the lagoon near the Giardini vaporetto stop, this poignant monument honours the memory of the Venetian women who participated in the Italian Resistance. Partially submerged by the water, it features a bronze figure of a fallen woman designed by Augusto Murer lying sprawled across a series of terraced concrete plinths designed by Scarpa.

Università IUAV: Scarpa taught drawing and interior decoration at Venice’s ‘Istituto universitario di architettura di Venezia’ (IUAV) from the late 1940s until the end of his life. The University is housed in a former convent attached to the impressive Tolentini church near Piazzale Roma, with a futuristic entrance added in 1985 following a futuristic design by Scarpa.

Fondazione Querini Stampalia: Based on Campo Santa Maria Formosa, the Fondazione Querini Stampalia is one of Venice’s most fascinating museums – once home to the noble Querini family, and now housing a rich collection of art and furniture.   Scarpa worked from 1961 to 1963 on improving the entrance, courtyard and garden, to brilliant and dramatic effect.

Giardini: Finally, if you’re planning to visit the Architecture Biennale at the Giardini this year, be sure to keep an eye out for some of Scarpa’s own designs in the gardens, such as the Venezuela Pavilion, Ticketing Booth and Sculpture Garden designed for the Central Pavilion in 1952.

TOP TIPS FOR A SUMMER DAY OUT ON THE LIDO
Murazzi

Lido Top Tips – If you’re planning a holiday to Venice this summer, why not consider making a day trip to the Lido?  With award-winning sandy beaches, elegant Art Deco architecture and a wide range of sporting activities, it has a lot to offer – just 15 minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco.  Here are a few ideas to inspire the perfect Lido day out:

Hire a beach cabana at the Grand Hotel Excelsior: During the early 20th century, the Venice Lido was the most fashionable seaside resort in Italy.  Today, its glamour may have faded slightly, but pay a visit to the Grand Hotel Excelsior and you’ll immediately be transported back to the old-world glitz and luxury of the island’s glory days. If you fancy topping up your tan in style, hire one of the cabanas on the hotel’s private beach, and order waiter service from the comfort of your sun bed.

Have a round of golf at the Circolo Golf Venezia: Few visitors to Venice know that the city boasts its own 9-hole golf course.  Situated on the southern tip of the Lido, in a lush green area that once served as a barracks for Austrian soldiers, it is one of the city’s hidden gems.  Founded in 1928, it ranks among the oldest Golf Clubs in Italy, and has welcomed numerous famous guests including Mussolini, Hitler and the Duke of Windsor.  Clubs are available to hire, and visitors are permitted to play on a day rate.  At the end of your round, cool off with a drink on the charming verandah.

Rent Bikes and cycle along the murazzi: If you feel like letting off steam (or working off that extra slice of pizza from the night before), hire bikes from one of the many rental shops lining Viale Santa Maria Elisabetta, and head off on a ride along the Lido’s scenic coastal cycle-way.  The sea walls are dotted with beach shacks and shelters that make picturesque picnic sites, but be warned, they tend to be popular with locals – so arrive early to bag a prime spot.

TOP TIPS FOR A SUMMER DAY OUT ON THE LIDO
Grand Hotel Excelsior
TOP TIPS FOR A SUMMER DAY OUT ON THE LIDO

Go Wild at the Alberoni Nature Reserve: Located at the south end of the Lido, the Alberoni Oasis is a beautiful nature reserve composed of a pine forest and complex dune system, immortalized for its beauty in the poetry of Byron and Goethe.  The beaches along the western shore are wild and spectacular, littered with bleached drift-wood and home to a number of protected bird species.  At the far end of the beach, half buried by the sand and shaded by tamerisks, you’ll find the wonderfully bohemian Macondo bar and cafe.  Accessible only by boat or by bicycle, it’s a closely-guarded Venetian secret that tourists rarely discover.  If you’re an early riser, join the locals at one of the Vinyasa Yoga sessions on the beach; there are three upcoming classes on 16th, 21st and 24th June from 10am – 11am.

For fans of contemporary art and architecture, Punta della Dogana is a must-visit destination: a vast 15th century complex situated at the mouth of the Grand Canal, which until the 1980s served as the city’s Sea Customs House.  After twenty years of abandonment, it was acquired by the Pinault Collection in 2007, and following a lengthy restoration project by celebrated architect Tadao Ando, the building re-opened to the public in 2009 as a space for temporary exhibitions.

“DANCING WITH MYSELF” AT PUNTA DELLA DOGANA
“DANCING WITH MYSELF” AT PUNTA DELLA DOGANA
Gilbert & George at Punta della Dogana

The current show, titled “Dancing with Myself”, presents a fascinating display of self-portraits ranging from the 1970s to the present day, examining the importance of the artist’s role as actor and material of his own creations. The exhibition brings together a broad spectrum of artistic practices and languages (photography, video, painting, sculpture and installation), cultures, geographic origins, generations and experiences, to establish a tension between extremely different artistic approaches: melancholy of vanity, ironic play with identity, political biography and existential questioning, the body as sculpture, effigy or fragment of its symbolic substitute.

The exhibition revolves around four themes: Melancholia, Identity Games, Political Autobiographies and Raw Material, and includes around 100 works from the Pinault Collection by artists including Gilbert & George, Cindy Sherman, Alighiero Boetti and Maurizio Cattelan, alongside a selection of works on loan from the Folkwang Museum in Essen.

“Dancing with Myself” is on view at Punta della Dogana until 16th December 2018

This week marks the birthday of the great German composer Richard Wagner, who was born in Leipzig on 22nd May 1813, and who died in Venice in 1883.

Like many other musicians throughout history, Wagner felt a strong affinity with Venice, and visited the city many times over the course of his life.  As he observed in 1858 in a letter to his father-in-law Franz Liszt, “Life in the big city has become completely unbearable for me, mainly because of the din of carriages that infuriates me. Now everyone knows that Venice is the calmest city, I mean the quietest city in the world and that is why I have decided it is absolutely the place for me.”

WAGNER IN VENICE: VISIT THE GREAT COMPOSER’S LAST HOME  & DEATH PLACE AT CA’ VENDRAMIN CALERGI
WAGNER IN VENICE: VISIT THE GREAT COMPOSER’S LAST HOME  & DEATH PLACE AT CA’ VENDRAMIN CALERGI

In 1882, having just completed the Parsifal score for the second edition of the Bayreuth Festival, Wagner returned to Venice once more in search of tranquility and inspiration.  He rented the entire mezzanine floor of Ca’ Vendramin Calergi on the Grand Canal, and it was here that he spent his last winter with his wife Cosima Liszt, their four children and household servants, before passing away from a heart attack on 13th February 1883 at the age of 69.

Today, Ca’ Vendramin Calergi is most famously renowned as the site of Venice’s glamorous casino – but few visitors are aware that the palace also houses a museum dedicated to Wagner, situated in the very rooms where the revered composer lived and died.  Opened in 1995, the Wagner Museum holds the Josef Lienhart Collection of rare documents, musical scores, signed letters, paintings, records and other heirlooms – constituting the largest private collection dedicated to Wagner outside of Bayreuth.  Outside the palace, a memorial plaque is inscribed with a tribute written by novelist and poet Gabriele d’Annuncio: “In this palace the souls hear the last breath of Richard Wagner perpetuating itself like the tide which washes the marble beneath”. Open by appointment, with guided tours available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, it’s a fascinating and atmospheric destination for anyone interested in discovering more about Wagner’s music, legacy and life-long love of Venice.

VISIT THE WORLD’S FIRST MUSEUM DEDICATED TO CASANOVA
VISIT THE WORLD’S FIRST MUSEUM DEDICATED TO CASANOVA

If you’re planning a visit to Venice this Spring, be sure to visit the city’s newest museum which opened a couple of weeks ago, dedicated to one of the Venetian Republic’s most famed and fabled sons – Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798).

Today Casanova is primarily known as a legendary lothario, whose louche sexual conquests numbered around 120 (if the claims in his memoirs are to be believed).  However, as this enlightening new museum makes clear, he was much more than an arch seducer; he was also an alchemist, a diplomat, a philosopher, a soldier and even a secret agent.

Indeed, as his biographer Ian Kelly writes, “Casanova might be surprised by his reputation in the modern world because he was a fiercely proud intellectual and polymath.  He was a very skilled mathematician and he wrote something like 42 books, including a history of Poland and arguably the world’s first-ever science fiction novel.”

Housed in Palazzo Papafava in Cannaregio, and manned by a fleet of staff in period 18th costumes, the museum is spread over six rooms that pulsate with audio-visual effects and dramatic lighting.  Featuring multi-media installations and stage-sets along with archival documents, costumes, paintings and memorabilia, it’s a highly immersive and entertaining experience that offers a wealth of insights into Casanova’s intriguing life, loves and legacy, as well as 18th Century Venice in general.

“FULVIO ROITER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1948-2007” AT CASA TRE OCI
“FULVIO ROITER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1948-2007” AT CASA TRE OCI

This Spring, the Casa Tre Oci gallery on Giudecca is presenting a major exhibition dedicated to the late, great Venetian photographer Fulvio Roiter.  Featuring over 200 iconic images spanning his entire career, it’s the most comprehensive showcase of Roiter’s work ever realised, and the first retrospective since his death in Venice in 2016.

Born in 1926 in Meolo, a small town in the municipality of Venice, Roiter first became interested in photography while studying to become a chemist.  His early attraction to the medium coincided with Italy’s post-war Neo-Realist movement, in which film-makers and photographers used their work to address the country’s social and economic concerns.  In 1948, Roiter met Paolo Monti – one of the founders of the Venetian photography group “La Gondola” – and following this seminal encounter, his passion for photography gradually developed into a lifelong profession

“FULVIO ROITER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1948-2007” AT CASA TRE OCI
“FULVIO ROITER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1948-2007” AT CASA TRE OCI

The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through Roiter’s career, beginning with some of his earliest works during his Neo-Realist period of the late 1940s, and continuing with photographs taken on his travels to far-flung places including the Amazon, Andalucia, Mexico, Iran and beyond.   The fundamental core of the show, however, is the powerful portfolio of iconic and incredibly beautiful images of Roiter’s beloved home city of Venice: the subject to which he returned time and again throughout his long life.

As the exhibition catalogue eloquently puts it, “The heart and soul of Fulvio Roiter’s work was Venice, the city that first invited his eyes to look through a viewfinder in order to bring to light what nobody had seen before. A magical city overflowing with history, the set for a film that had never been released but that soon everyone would want to see by walking along the alleys by the lagoon.

His photos had the power of a megaphone and managed to connect the city to the world. Venice was the research field where Roiter discovered his artistic identity precisely at the time when the city was being reborn through unusual and attractive images, through photographs that allowed the whole world to get to know its poetry and enchantment.” 

“Fulvio Roiter. Photographs 1948-2007” is on view at Casa Tre Oci until 26th August 2018.  For more information, visit www.treoci.org

“FULVIO ROITER: PHOTOGRAPHS 1948-2007” AT CASA TRE OCI
WHERE TO ENJOY THE SPECTACLE OF A SPRING SUNSET IN VENICE
Fondamenta della Zattere

Venice is beautiful at any time of day, but as the sun starts to set over the lagoon city skyline, it becomes especially magical.  Here are a few of the best spots in town to enjoy the sublime spectacle of a Venetian Spring sunset.

Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore: Take the number 2 vaporetto to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, and ascend the ancient bell-tower of Palladio’s Renaissance basilica for dramatic 360 degree views over the lagoon.

Fondamenta delle Zattere: This long boulevard is the perfect place for an early evening aperitivo; choose from one of the many canal-side bars and cafes such as the civilized terrace of Gelateria Nico, or lively local hot-spot Chioschetto Zattere.

T Fondaco dei Tedeschi: Indulge in some retail therapy in one of the world’s most glamorous and historic shopping emporiums, and then scale the scarlet escalator to the top floor, where you’ll find a roof terrace offering spectacular views over the Grand Canal.

Riva degli Schiavoni: This sweeping promenade is an ideal location for a late-afternoon stroll.  Take the vaporetto to Sant’Elena, and as you wander back towards Piazza San Marco, past the tranquil Park of Remembrance and picturesque Public Gardens, marvel as the sun starts to set on the horizon beyond Santa Maria della Salute.

Skyline Bar, Hilton Molino Stucky: Unwind after a busy day with a sundowner and chill-out beats at this hip cocktail bar on the roof of the old Molino Stucky flour mill, which offers breathtaking vistas over Venice from the Giudecca Canal to Piazza San Marco and beyond.

WHERE TO ENJOY THE SPECTACLE OF A SPRING SUNSET IN VENICE
Riva degli Schiavoni
EASTER TEMPTATIONS:  ON THE HUNT FOR THE SWEETEST TREATS IN TOWN
VirzioVirtù's impressive window display

Venice’s shops, bars and bakeries are currently piled high with tempting treats in readiness for this weekend’s Easter celebrations.  Here’s where to find some of the most indulgent chocolates, cakes, pastries and gelato in town:

Chocolate VirzioVirtù, Calle Forneri, Castello 5988: Satisfy your post-Lent cocoa cravings at VizioVirtù – a sleek artisan chocolate shop run by celebrated confectioner Mariangela Penzo.  Watch the master chocolatiers at work in the open kitchen, and then take your pick from the endless array of chocolate eggs, brittles, fondants and pralines lined up behind the counter.  The selection of flavours is infinite, ranging from traditional favourites such as champagne truffles to more unusual options including tobacco, cardamom and other exotic flavours inspired by Venice’s historic links with the Spice Route.

Breads & Pastries Dal Nono Colussi, Calle Lunga S. Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2867A.  Franco “Nono” Colussi first opened his little bakery in 1956, and over 60 years later, he’s still renowned as one of the best pastry chefs in town.  Try his signature fugassa – a light, sugar-crusted brioche – or one of the cream-filled krapfen made daily in the oven at the back of the shop.  At Easter, the traditional “colomba” is also highly popular; a lightly leavened bread shaped in the form of a dove.Moving with the times, the bakery also offers more modern creations such as lactose-free olive-oil cookies and gluten-free chocolate cakes.

EASTER TEMPTATIONS:  ON THE HUNT FOR THE SWEETEST TREATS IN TOWN
EASTER TEMPTATIONS:  ON THE HUNT FOR THE SWEETEST TREATS IN TOWN

Cakes & Biscuits Rizzardini, Campielo dei Meloni, San Polo 1415: This eye-catching pasticceria was founded over 200 years ago in 1742 – hence the beautiful period interiors.  Run by charming owner Paolo Garlato, Rizzardini specializes in traditional Venetian cakes and biscuits such as cantucci Veneziani (twice-baked almond biscuits) and esse Buranei (S shaped cookies typically made on the island of Burano). During Carnival, their fritelle (fried doughnuts) attract long queues, but at this time of year, we recommend their torta di ricotta (ricotta cake) and baci in gondola (chocolate-filled meringues).

Gelato Gelati Nico, Dorsoduro 922: There are many excellent gelaterie all over Venice, but Nico is arguably still the best.  Established in 1935, this old-fashioned ice cream parlour offers more than 20 flavours including classics such as pistachio and stracciatella, as well as more unusual alternatives such as crocante with rum and their celebrated “gianduiotto” – a smooth combination of chocolate and hazelnut. With a beautiful terrace on the Zattere, it’s a wonderful spot to watch a Spring sunset over the Giudecca canal with a late-afternoon gelato in hand.

Top Ten Things to do with Kids in Venice over the Easter Holidays

With its fairy-tale palaces, magical maze of canals, and numerous child-friendly museums and cultural attractions (not to mention the endless pizza and gelato) Venice is a watery wonderland for kids.  Here’s a list of our top ten tips for entertaining children in Venice this Easter:

Get crafty at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection: On Easter Sunday, the museum is hosting a free Kids Day workshop for children between 4 -10 years of age.  Themed around “Distorting Landscapes with Magritte”, this hands-on event aims to introduce younger visitors to modern and contemporary art in an accessible and engaging way.   3pm – 4.30pm, advance booking required.

Let off steam with a bike ride on the Lido:  Just ten minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco, the Lido is a 7-mile long sandbar separating Venice from the Adriatic.  If the weather’s fine, hire bicycles from one of the many stalls around the main vaporetto stop, and head off for a picnic on one of island’s sandy beaches.

Make your own mask at Ca’ Macana:  Children are bound to be fascinated by the numerous masks on sale around the city.  Ca’ Macana, one of the oldest artisan mask shops in Venice, offers papier-mâché mask-painting workshops for adults and children of all ages – the perfect activity for a wet afternoon.   

Top Ten Things to do with Kids in Venice over the Easter Holidays
Top Ten Things to do with Kids in Venice over the Easter Holidays

Go on a lion huntClosely associated with the city’s patron saint St Mark, the lion was the ultimate symbol of the Venetian Republic; as a result, they feature heavily in Venice’s art and architecture.  Instead of an Easter Egg hunt, challenge your little ones to see who can spot the most lions as you wander around the city; the winner gets an extra scoop of gelato.

Dare to enter the Doge’s dungeonsIf you’re travelling with slightly older children, the “Secret Itineraries Tour” of the Doge’s Palace may well appeal.  Led by an expert guide who offers grisly details about Venice’s dark past, the tour takes you behind the scenes to some of the palace’s hidden corners, including the sinister Torture Chamber and attic prisons – including the cell from which Casanova escaped in 1756.

Take a boat ride to the lagoon island of BuranoThe islands of the northern lagoon make a great excursion from Venice, and are easily accessible by vaporetto.  Take a trip to Burano for a leisurely lunch at one of its many restaurants and pizzerias, followed by a game of hide-and-seek around the labyrinth of brightly-coloured fishermen’s cottages.

Dress up like a VenetianCarnival may be over, but children can still experience the thrill of dressing up in an historic Venetian outfit at La Bauta – a specialist costume atelier in San Polo that offers photoshoots in full costume for just €30 per person.

Discover dinosaurs at the Natural History MuseumYoung explorers will love this quirky museum, which is packed full of curiosities including a pair of stuffed giraffes, a 5,000 litre aquarium full of lagoon creatures, and even a seven-metre long fossilized dinosaur skeleton.

Marvel at the glass blowers of Murano: Venice has been famous for its glass for over 1000 years, and today the island of Murano is still home to some of the finest glass masters in the world.  Many of the furnaces offer free glass-blowing demonstrations, which are always a hit with kids; afterwards, stroll around the picturesque streets looking for the perfect glass souvenir to take home.

Navigate the Grand Canal in a kayakMost visitors will be tempted to enjoy a ride in a gondola – but if your children are feeling a little more adventurous, check out Real Venetian Kayak, a company that offers guided tours of Venice’s canals in a fleet of colourful kayaks.  An exhilarating and unforgettable experience that offers a truly unique perspective on the city.

Top Ten Things to do with Kids in Venice over the Easter Holidays
Glassblowing Workshop on Murano
Top Ten Things to do with Kids in Venice over the Easter Holidays
Kayaking down the Canal