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Venetian Sestiere: Dorsodouro

While we use a period for our decimal place indicator, most Europeans use a comma. And to confuse things a bit more, where we use a comma to separate thousands from hundreds, Europeans use a period.

 

This week, it's time to get back to Venice. Specifically, the sestiere of Dorsodouro (or Dorsoduro in some circles).

Don't remember what a sestiere is? Please, review my previous article of January 3, 2017, titled "Venice's Sestiere".

We like Dorsodouro for its quiet charm. And there is variety in that you have both large and small campi, small canals, and then the walkway along the large, sea-like Giudecca Canal. 

 

This map shows you Dorsodouro's location within Venice...it's the lime-green-shaded area of the map.

 

And in this birds-eye view, you can see detail of the boundary of the Dorsodouro sestiere. 

In the aerial view above, draw an imaginary vertical line down the center of Dorsodouro just to the left of Campo Santa Margherita. Then, focus your time to the right of that line...most all you would want to see in the sestiere of Dorsodouro is in the eastern limits. 


Here are the main attractions of Dorsodouro

Iconic Santa Maria della Salute & the Punta della Dogana

Perhaps the most prominent feature of Dorsodouro is the church of Santa Maria della Salute. You've seen it before in my article of titled, "Transforming the Punta della Dogana". Here is a photo of the Punta and the Salute taken one evening as we dined at Terrazza Daniele. 

Accademia Gallery

The second most prominent feature within Dorsodouro would be the Galleria dell'Accademia (Accademia Gallery), Venice's premier art gallery. It is located at the sourthern terminus of the Accademia Bridge.

This gallery, shown at left, houses magnificent pre-19th century Venetian art.

 

Here is the ceiling of the large room as you enter. This room's entire ceiling is covered with this pattern. That was a lot of work, and we are always amazed at the craftsmanship that went into Venetian buildings. So many happy little faces!

Our favorite Venetian painting at the Accademia is this masterpiece by Giovanni Bellini titled, "Sacred Conversation" (aka "Madonna and Child with Two Saints"). We don't visit Venice without stopping by to say, 'Hello'. Absolutely gorgeous!

Another fine work found here is the San Giobbe Altarpiece, by Bellini, shown below -- just a little worse for wear. The work depicts Mary sitting on a tall marble throne, holding the Christ Child. At her feet are three musician While at the side are, in symmetrical positions, six saints. They are, on the left, Sts. Francis, John the Baptist and Job; and on the right, Sts. Dominic, Sebastian and Louis of Toulouse.

On a religious-art note, Saint Sebastian is depicted often in Italian art and he is readily identified by arrows piercing his body.

Ca' Rezzonico and Its Museum of 18th-Century Venice

This magnificent palace, now the Museum of 18th century Venice, was designed by the greatest Baroque architect of the city, Baldassare Longhena for the aristocratic Bon family. Work began in 1649, but Longhena’s and the client's deaths, together with the financial problems of the Bon family, brought work to a halt, leaving the palace incomplete. In the meantime, the Giambattista Rezzonico family purchased the palace and had it completed. The Rezzonico's family fortunes peaked in 1758 when younger brother Carlo became Pope Clement VIII. After a few years, and with no heirs, the palace fell into disrepair and had several owners, including Robert Barrett Browning. In 1935, Ca' Rezzonico was sold to the town of Venice by the owner, who was a member of the Italian Parliament. 

Today, Ca' Rezzonico is a must-see if one wants to understand what life was like in Venice in years gone by. Both the furnishings and the art reveal Venice's past in this beautiful building. Here are a couple of photos of the interior, taken from the Ca' Rezzonico website.

Below is one of the few photos that I took within the Ca' on a cold, dreary day in January, 2004.

For those who have visited Venice in the warmer months, you will note the dearth of boat traffic on the canal. As a matter of fact, when we left the Ca' and awaited a vaporetto, we saw absolutely no boat traffic in either direction on the Grand Canal -- a rare site, and one of the reasons we so enjoyed our winter visit. You can see my parody of Venetian boat traffic here.

Squero di San Trovaso

The Squero is fascinating in that it is the gondola repair facility of the Venetian lagoon. This is where the gondole are scraped and gussied up for your Romantic Gondola Ride

[click on an image for a larger view]

Here is a digital painting that I created from one of my photos of the Squero di San Trovaso.

Lunch at Taverna San Trovaso

Hungry? Then let's take a break for lunch at Taverna San Trovaso. We've eaten here a couple of times.

In the left photo below, you see the Taverna during aqua alta (high water) event. While on the right, is the Taverna in its normal state when we were there during January, 2004. I'm not sure if the restaurant was open during aqua alta, but it would seem that having 12" of water in your restaurant would cause a problem, wouldn't it?

To the right is the bill for my solo meal at Taverna San Trovaso in October 12, 2012. The amounts are in Euros, or € for short. Let's break it down.

But first, let's talk about calendar dates in the European format. You can see '12/10/12' on the lunch check. in Europe, the format is DD/MM/YY, while in the US we use MM/DD/YY. So the date of the check is October 12, not December 10. Got it?

OK, then. Let's move on to decimal places. You can see on the check that my Coca Cola Light was '3,00'. In the US you would see 3.00. While we use a period for our decimal place indicator, most (but not all) Europeans use a comma. And to confuse things a bit more, where we use a comma to separate thousands from hundreds (eg 2,500), Europeans use a period (eg 2.500). So, 1,234.56 in the US would be written 1.234,56 in most European countries.

Huh. Go figure. 

So, what did I eat? First, we see that I had 'crudo, stracchino', which translates as raw soft cheese, which you can see here -- and in reality it includes prosciutto. I've got to say that this looks like a good bit of prosciutto for 10€, doesn't it?

 

Next we find 'bufala', which translates to buffalo. Now, I'm not actually eating buffalo, but a salad of tomato, olive, argula and a mozzorella cheese made from buffalo milk. NOTE: this is not a buffalo milk as in bison milk, but buffalo milk as in water-buffalo milk. Got it?

Next we find 'Coca Cola Light' -- in our world we call this a diet coke. I neglected to get a photo of this favorite soda during this seating, but fear not, I found one in my archives that was taken in this very Taverna San Trovaso from a previous trip. Here you see my lovely wife, Ellen, pouring this nectar of the gods...at ungodly prices -- 3€, or about 4$ at the time.

 

Next up is '1/4 Cabernet', or 1/4 liter of house red wine. You can see the carafe in two of the photos above. That's about 8.5 ounces of wine for 3€. Reasonable by US standards...and the wine is very good. And at the exact same price as a can of diet coke, one might as well drink wine -- which is what the Italians do.

The last thing we see on the bill is 'Coperto'. This is the 2€ cover, or cover charge for service. One does not typically tip in Italy (and most of Europe), but there is often a cover charge like this one. Stand at a counter to eat your meal and you have no coperto. Sit in Piazza San Marco at Cafe Florian for a cup of espresso and expect a coperto of about 6€. In many restaurants, like this one, sitting to eat adds an additional 2€ -- but hey, there's no tipping.

So all said, my bill came to 30€. One might think this a bit high for a light lunch, but we are in Venice, you know...where everything is brought in by boat... everything. 

One thing fairly unique about Taverna San Trovaso was my server, who was a woman. One does not see many female wait staff in Venice -- we've had only two in several trips. Here is my friendly waitress.

OK. Lunch is over. Let's move on to other parts of Dorsodouro.

 

Campo Santa Margherita

I like this large campo, or field, or plazza...you get the idea. It's the heart of Dorsodouro. It is a center of trade, with numerous shops and markets, like this shop where the famous Venetian masks are being made by hand.

 

It is a place to meet and talk with friends.

 

It's a place for families...including their pets.

 

And for those who attend the Università Ca' Foscari, which is in this very same Dorsodouro sestiere, it is a place for study...as you can see here as these two take notes during the lecture of Profesor Porumbel (to save you looking up a translation, 'porumbel' is Italian for 'pigeon'.

 

And, on wash days, it is a place to hang one's laundry.

 

The Floating Market

On the Rio San Barnaba canal, you can find this floating market. And that looks like none other than our own Debbie Kennedy looking at us from across the canal.

This market boat seems to be semi-permanently moored here, as you can see by the mossy guy ropes.

 

Here is some of the produce you will find at this floating market.

Dinner Time at Ai Gondolieri

OK, we've wandered around a good bit and it's time for dinner. I've got a good place picked out...and since you're getting a bit tired of seafood, this spot should work nicely.

Most Venetian restaurants specialize in seafood...it just happens to be abundant when you live in a lagoon on the Adriatic. However, there is a restaurant where one can get more meaty dishes, and that is Ai Gondolieri. You will find more veal, lamb and beef on the menu here than most any other restaurant in Venice.

It is unfortunate that when we visited Ai Gondolieri in the winter of 2004, I took very few photos with the point-and-shoot camera that I had at the time. But here is perhaps the one photo that I did have, which shows fresh flowers and an edible garnish that awaits when you are seated. 

 

Found While Strolling Dorsodouro

I will leave you with the sights (sorry, no sounds) of the sestiere of Dorsodouro.

Doors & Windows of Dorsodouro

Canal Water Gates

Canal Reflections

Miscellaneous Sights

Here I've jumped into another bridal photo shoot. And is that the same Rialto Bridge model from my San Polo article? I think it is!


Well, that's the charming area of Dorsodouro...a nice, quiet place to visit when you are strolling the streets of Venice.

I'll close with another photogenic, quiet canal scene from Dorsodouro.

I will look for you at Campo Santa Margherita or along one of the many charming canals of Dorsodouro.

Web links...

 

Ciao for now,

Steve

    My Instagram feed...

    Enjoying Italy-Bought Wine

    Isn't it funny how the brain works? Not hah-hah funny, but amazing funny.

    To fully understand today’s story, you have to understand that we were naughty this past weekend. Yes, we were very naughty!

    Sometimes we have a sudden flash-back to some other time in our lives...it might be triggered by a sound, or maybe a smell...it could be any one of our five senses that brings back a memory, either wanted, or unwanted. My wife and I had an experience this past weekend that brought this home to us. But, it wasn't related directly to a triggering from one of our five senses. So, what was it? 

    It was a wine, of all things. It was a wine which we brought back from a trip to Italy in 2014. And it was this wine that brought back memories. And those memories brought back a joy of Italy and a wonderful day in Tuscany.

    This is a story about stopping to smell the roses...or if you are want for roses...the wine.

    First, I'll give you the backstory for the experience which uplifted our spirits this past weekend. 


    The Backstory from 2014

    Our memory started as many Italian memories do -- with food. We had just finished an outstanding lunch at Ristorante La Botte di Bacco (The Bottle of Bacchus) in the hillside town of Radda in Chianti. 

     

    This charming little restaurant is highly regarded by those who utilize TripAdvisor in their travels, as we do. The upstairs dining room overlooks the street and the surrounding valley below the town. That's our table in the photo at left.

    The food is absolutely scrumptious. I have included a few photos below to prove this statement. As we sat down at our nice window seat, we enjoyed the Tuscan countryside on this temporarily-beautiful day.

     

    See the photo to the right? When we sat, I'm like, 'Whoa...what is this?!' My wife Ellen, being an expert in such things, let me know that, 'It's like a ginormous bread stick'. And I'm like, "Man, its good!"

     [I'm happy to say that, like it or not, we've like, grown out of saying 'like' all of the time -- like heck we have]

    I've never lied to you, and I won't start now as I tell you that I am now a fan of huge bread sticks. And, in the photo to the right, you can see that Ellen has quickly become a huge fan of fried pizza dough that we found in the carb-alicious basket of goodies you see below. 

     

    My Instagram feed...

    And here are a few photos of just some of our lunchtime treats. Please click on the images, because I want you to get a much closer look at the shaved pear and ravioli, the veal, and the bisteca con carciofo (aka artichoke). Benissimo! 

    The white wine above? I don't remember what it was, but it was delicious, as you can tell by the smile on my face, below. But, this is not the wine of which I write today.

    You can see the wine of which I write today in the next photo...but though it is, it also isn't. That probably doesn't make much sense, does it? So read on.

    The red wine in the photo is a Chianti Classico from the Rocca di Castagnoli winery. See the black rooster on the neck of the bottle? That tells you that the wine is officially a 'Chianti Classico' wine. Chianti Classico does not in itself impart a note of superiority, but is more related to a location. The Chianti wine region is generally a Tuscan area south of Florence, and the Sangiovese grape variety grown there is the key ingredient of all Chianti. And if the Chianti region was thought to be shaped as a donut, the Chianti Classico area could be the hole in the Chianti donut. The town of Radda in Chianti, where we were eating, is located in the Chianti Classico area. You can see that the wine is a 2011 wine, which in summer of 2014 was just right for drinking...it was approachable, as one might say...so, we approached it. 

    If you are want to know more about Chianti Classico and it's origins, please read my article of August 25, 2015, about the birthplace of Chianti titled, "Beautiful Places Castello Brolio".

    During lunch, the formerly sunny day turned dark and stormy, as you can see below as we looked out of our window-side table. 

    So after lunch, we darted from one dry spot to another as we made our way to our car. We took shelter in a couple of tourist stores, then a butcher shop, and in the tunnel-like entrance to this centuries-old courtyard.

     

    Having dodged rain drops, we made it to our rented Alfa Romeo Giulia, where we sat for a bit. 

    • "Now what?", I asked.
    • Ellen offered, "That Chianti at lunch was really, really good. Let's see where it's made and go visit the winery."

    Sounded good to me. So, that's what we did.

    We took a bit of a circuitous route, for which we were rewarded. You might remember an article I wrote back in June, 2015, which was titled "Get Lost!". If you don't remember that article, you can read it here...it's one of my favorites.  

    Our reward for taking this route to the Rocca di Castagnoli winery was beautiful scenery as the weather began to clear. Here is one of my very favorite photos of Tuscany...full of rich, weather-lifting scenery, as well as rich memories.

    And a couple more photos from along the way in the 'moody weather' vein.

    The Rocca di Castagnoli winery sits high upon a hill southeast of Radda in Chianti. Like a lot of wineries in Tuscany, it is housed in centuries-old buildings. 

    During our tour of the winery, we particularly enjoyed the barrel-vaulted barrel vault, with row-after-row of colorfully casked wine, aging to perfection.

    Want larger casks? You got it!

    In the photo of the lone cask to the right, you can see the burned-in graphics indicating that it is an oak barrel from a particular forest. You can also see that it is made from grapes of the 2013 vintage.

    Here's the very friendly young man who helped us in tasting the various wines behind the Rocca di Castagnoli label. 

     

    And here, he has laid out several wines for us to try. 

     

    We had a great afternoon indoors tasting delicious wines, while outside it was off-and-on stormy. Know what we did when we left? That is the subject of another of my very favorite articles titled, "Wild Goose Chase", which is about our ill-fated reservation at one of Tuscany's (formerly) finest restaurants. You can reminisce with us by reading here

    Just a quick note about wine tasting and driving. If you haven't tasted wine at an enoteca, or Italian winery tasting room, please understand that you don't get a full pour, nor even a half pour...a taste is all you get...just a sip. So, inebriation shouldn't be in the picture. And just a bit more about drinking in Italy...as our friend Luciano says, "If you see a man who is staggering down the street after having too much wine, we say that he just hasn't had enough to eat!". Such words of encouragement for eating more in Italy are not needed...really.


    Fast-Forward to 2017

    So finally, now back to my story about this past weekend, and the gist of this article on enjoying Italy-bought wine. That is the whole point, after all.

    To fully understand today's story, you have to understand that we were naughty this past weekend. Yes, we were very naughty!

    So, there's all kinds of naughty, right? And I'm not sure what degree of naughty you are imagining right now (but of course, you can use the Comment box below to share your thoughts if you feel so obliged), but I have to say that our naughty was in the really-tame-naughty category...mostly.

    This past weekend, we had planned to clean up the house. Besides the various misplaced items on our main floor, we had things in our bedroom which we had neglected for awhile, and in our basement (please don't tell anyone this!), we had not put away all of our boxes of Christmas decorations. I know...we are terrible people, aren't we?!

    Instead of starting the ball rolling Saturday morning, I completely stopped the ball by suggesting that our day would be better spent laying around in our jammies in front of the fireplace reading our books and drinking wine. With hardly any sales effort on my part, Ellen bought into my program with absolutely no hesitation. So, that's exactly what we did.

    I got the fire going (yes, we actually use wood in our fireplace!) and then went down to the basement (aka wine cellar) to grab a bottle of red wine. While Ellen lay on the couch reading in front of the crackling fire, I uncorked the bottle and poured us each a glass.

    Ellen: "Dang! What is this? It's really, really good!"

    Me: "Let me look. Its a bottle of Chianti Classico from Rocca di Castagnoli."

    Ellen: "Isn't that the wine we bought that day when it was raining after we had lunch in Radda in Chianti?"

    Me: "Yes, that's exactly what it is! Let's pull up the photos from that trip so we can look at 'em."

    So, that's what we did...and we were able to journey back to relive almost every moment of that wonderful afternoon.  It was all brought back by enjoying our Italy-bought wine from our 2014 trip.

    And, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it is the exact same wine - vintage and all - that we had for lunch that day at La Botte di Bacco.

    And with the added 2 1/2 years of aging, the wine was even better than before than before...markedly better, actually.

    Finally, here's proof of our wonderfully quiet day -- proof in the form of...

    ...our bottle of wine...

     

    ...our blazing, crackling fire...

     

    ...Ellen reading her 'book' with wine in hand..

     

    ...and I with my wine as I finish reading "Somewhere South of Tuscany", written by our lovely friend, Diana Armstrong (see my article "Covering for My Friends"). 

     

    We had no roses this past Saturday, but we stopped anyway, smelling the wine instead...and our week will be better for it.

    When you next travel to Italy, bring back a bottle of wine, and give this a try for yourself.

     

    Mentioned in this article...

     

    Finally, on a photographic note, each of the final 4 photos above that were taken this past weekend were captured on my iPhone 7 using the new "Portrait" mode. This mode is meant for photographing people: rendering a person in sharp focus, whilst the background is blurred. I like the way it was able to accentuate the wine bottle tableau, Ellen's glass of wine, and my book. Give it a try if you have this new equipment.

    Ciao for now,

    Steve

    Transforming A Corte

    Index of Blog Articles

    Today I give you a short transformation. This is where I show you how one of my photos goes from a snapshot to something more in line with a fine-art photograph.

    I really like the lion medallions above each side of the entrance. And I also found the plaque, with what I will call a coat of arms, interesting.

    Last week, I showed you the sestiere of San Polo...one of the six districts (aka sestiere) of Venice. I have taken several photos within San Polo over the years, and as I was looking through those for last week's article, I came across the one which is the subject of today's transformation.

    The site to be transformed is the Corte Petriana. A 'corte' is what we would call a 'courtyard' in English. I could find no translation for Petriana, so I would assume that's the name of the family to whom this courtyard belongs.

    Here is the original snapshot of the entrance to the corte.

    Ugh. I have to agree with you...not a very pretty site as it sits in the real world. But, as it is my job to transform the real into the Venetian world that I imagine, that's exactly what I did.

    First, things are a bit wonky with the alignment of the entrance to the corte. Then, within the corte itself, there are some distractions, like a water pipe and an electrical conduit. 

    [As an aside, let me write a few sentences about water and electrical conduits. You will see these throughout Venice. They are not something that one enjoys seeing, but they are necessary. Imagine a Venice of 1,000 years ago, or even 300 years ago -- you will not see water or electrical conduits because they didn't exist. Water was gathered at the local pozzo (which I wrote about here), and electricity had not made it on the scene. The houses in Venice do not have basements (obviously) and all of the walls are made of stone. This pretty much necessitates running both water and electrical conduits up the outside of walls, and then through them. But just for you, in my quest to present you a Venice of days past, I feel compelled to bring a Venice to you without these distractions. OK, now back to the photo transformation.]

    Next, I felt the whole areas surrounding the entrance to the corte was not what I would want to personally discover as I was wandering my romantic, ancient Venice -- so I got rid of the walls on each side of the narrow calle (aka street). This required a good bit of demolition and masonry work on my part, but that's my job, and I love it. 

    So here is the final photo of Corte Petriana. 

    And here is a black and white version if you prefer.

    I really like the lion medallions on each side and above the entrance. And I also found the plaque, with what I will call a coat of arms, interesting. Here is an enlargement of that feature.

    Note the crescent with the tree on the shield...hmm.  Then there are the two dragon-like creatures at the bottom. A couple of angels are at the top corners. But then there is the curious main feature of person and child. One could assume that the adult is Mary, but it isn't too clear, and perhaps there is a crown on the head? The cross is the hand of the adult is the kicker for me...if the child is the Christ-child, the cross would be a concept that is about 30 years too early. If you have thoughts, please put them into the 'Comments' area, below.

    Just so you know...and I figure that you are wondering...I had not Photoshopped the basketball backboard and hoop into the photo...it was there when I showed up...really. But, I decided to have a bit of fun with it, so I've titled the resulting photograph "The Court of the Venetian Baseketmaker". Your absolutely right, that was clever! 

    But, I decided not to stop there. So, in the next more whimsical and non-official photo, I've added a basketball in its arc towards the basket, as well as a bit of shadow of the ball's shooter. 

    So, there you have it. A transformation of an ugly snapshot into the more charming "Court of the Venetian Basketmaker".

    Ciao for now,

    Steve

    My Instagram feed...

    Venetian Sestiere: San Polo

    Index of Blog Articles

    A couple of weeks ago, I reminded you what a 'sestiere' is. Don't remember? Read that article here.

    The San Polo sestiere ('sestiere' = 'district') is our second favorite – right after San Marco. But San Polo is not a distant second.

    < Check out the map at left to see where the San Polo piece fits into the Venetian puzzle.

     

     

    There is a lot to see and do – and eat – in San Polo. Click on the map and you will see the rather convoluted layout of this sestiere.

    Map of the San Polo sestiere of Venice

    Overview

    First, the term ‘San Polo’. You may remember that ‘San Marco’ refers to Saint Mark; well, San Polo refers to Saint Paul. 

    San Polo is the smallest of the six sestiere of Venice. It is also one of the oldest neighborhoods, as the highest banks of the mud flats where Venice began were located here. And today, it is one of the liveliest of the six sestiere – there is a lot to do here, both day and night.

    Below you can see just a portion of San Polo as it sits across the Grand Canal from San Marco.

    A portion of San Polo, across the Grand Canal from San Marco

    Attractions

    Some of our favorite Venetian attractions are found in San Polo.

    Rialto Bridge

    First, to get to San Polo from San Marco, you will most likely cross over the Rialto Bridge. Because of the need to get to the Rialto Market from San Marco, a wooden bridge was originally constructed in 1255. After being burned in 1310 in a bit of a revolt, and then collapsing (with people on the bridge) in 1444 and then again in 1524, a call went out for a design competition for a more substantial bridge.

    In 1591, Antonio de Ponte completed construction of the current bridge based on his winning design -- his bridge has become one of the iconic structures in Venice. I'm not sure if he was born with the name "de Ponte" (translates 'of the bridge') or not, but it was sure a good gimmick to get the bridge job if he wasn't.

    Here is a photo of the Rialto Bridge, taken from a romantic gondola ride.

    [click any image for a larger view]

    The iconic Rialto Bridge

    You can see that the bridge is composed of two inclined, shop-lined, ramps with a central portico.

    And in the next photo, you can see the steps of the inclined portion of the bridge. And you get an idea just how big this bridge is, as the buildings in the distance are at the mid-point of the Rialto Bridge. Those are shops on each side of the bridge, lining its edge.

    It is almost unimaginable how many feet have gone over these steps, as most every visitor to Venice for 400 years has been funneled over the Rialto Bridge.

    A lot happens on the Rialto Bridge. Here are a couple of images from a photo shoot that I did for a bridal fashion magazine.

    Just kidding. Even though I did take the photos, this is actually just a kind of reverse photo-bombing event…rather than me jumping into the background, I just joined the commercial photographer in shooting the false bride.

    Another day on the Rialto Bridge, and another bridal fashion shoot. It must be some sort of bride magnet.

    And such drama!

     

    Around the bridge is a lot of action. As I’ve mentioned before, everything brought into Venice travels either by boat or foot. Here you can see that the area around the Rialto Bridge is a hub of delivery activity.

    And here are a couple more photos showing detail of the Rialto Bridge.

    Finally, it was from the Rialto Bridge that I took the photos to create one of my most popular images…”Busy Day on the Grand Canal”.

    Rialto Market

    Moving on just a few feet from the Rialto Bridge you will find the Rialto Market. As I’ve covered this market in detail in another article, you can see that article and photos of the market in “The Rialto Market of Venice”.

    The Frari

    One of the most beautiful churches in Venice is Chiesa Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. [‘chiesa’ (key-‘ā-suh) = ‘church’] Also known as The Friari, it is not much to look at on the outside, as you can see here.

    But, don’t let the starkness of the outside fool you. Inside are treasures of all sorts, like the almost 20 burial monuments.  

     

    Here is a monument to Antono Canova, who is perhaps second only to Michelangelo as a sculptor. 

    Though his body lies a few miles away in Tempio Canoviano (The Temple of Canova) which he designed and financed, his heart belonged to Venice, so it is enshrined in this monument. It's interesting that this heart tomb was originally designed by himself to be the tomb of Titian. But, there sits Titian’s final resting place (shown below) right across from that of Canova’s heart. It's nice to be famous, isn't it? I guess...wouldn't know.

    One of my favorite parts of The Friari is the choir seating. It is made of carved wood, and each of the ‘seats’ is different, and includes both carvings and inlaid marquetry, as seen in these photos. Please click the photos to get see the beautiful detail.

    Then there is Titan’s famous altar piece titled “Assumption of the Virgin”, which you can see here…but which we were denied viewing on our last visit due to restoration work…there is always something being restored in Venice…thankfully. 

    And there are other works, like Bellini’s triptych titled “Madonna with Child and Saints”, which sits in the Sacristy. I absolutely adore this assemblage! Here is its setting and a detailed photo.

    You'll see more of Bellini's absolutely gorgeous work when we head to the sestiere of Dorsoduro in the near future. 

     It is fortunate that you are not prohibited from taking photos in The Frari, as you are in many other Venetian churches.

    Some of you may recognize this golden angel from a recent family Christmas card.

     

     

     

    Finally, there’s this poor gentleman, whose fate it is to hold up a good part of the church, whilst being eternally pestered by that seriously macabre figure behind him. Could that be hell, itself?

     

    Scuola Grande di San Rocco 

    Then there is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. Shown here is its grand room.

    San Rocco (or Saint Roch) was known for his plague healing miracles, which is what got him institutional recognition in this city which was hit hard by the plague. There are a number of ‘scuola’ in Venice. A scuola is a Christian association of lay people that promote special works of charity…maybe like a lodge in the U.S. that takes on charitable work.

    The Scuola Grande di San Rocco is chock-a-block full of Tintoretto paintings. Both walls and ceilings hold his huge masterpieces. The most famous being his “Crucifixion”, which is 40 feet across, and is shown here.

    Tintoretto's "Crucifixion"

    As one cannot take photos within the Scuola, I harvested these from the official Scuola San Rocco website here.

    And for a more entertaining view of the inside of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, just watch the Woody Allen movie, “Everyone Says I Love You”, where he just happens to bump into Julia Roberts in the Scuola.

    My feet are already hurting from all the walking we’ve done thus far. Let’s move on to eating in the sestiere of San Polo.

    Eating

    Da Fiore

    I will focus on the premier restaurant of San Polo, and all of Venice, in most people’s opinion…and I can’t argue.

    Da Fiore is a culinary experience. I can’t put my finger on why that is. They are not into the culinary chemistry thingie that so many top-rated restaurants are want to put out these days (and yes, we've experienced a 22 course meal of these delights, where upon leaving the restaurant, my wife said to me, “I’d sure like a hot dog”). The dining room is not opulent, though it is charming and has the look of a ships galley to me for some reason…I think it is the curvature of the ceiling, perhaps?

    What you get here is really great food…Italian, of course…featuring seafood, of course…serving great wines, of course. And the service is friendly, not overly stuffy, and attentive, of course. Here are a couple of our friendly wait staff.

    One of the internationally recognized food critics puts Da Fiore in the top 5 restaurants in the world. ‘Nough said. Here are some photos from some of our visits there.

    Here are a couple of photos from a visit on a cold January night in 2004. The grappa was to warm us for our journey back to our hotel in San Marco.

    Poste Veccie

    Of course, there are other fine restaurants scattered throughout the San Polo sestiere…and we’ve eaten at several. Poste Vecie is particularly nice. Our traveling companion Mike picked this one out years ago, and we were not disappointed. You get to it by passing between the two red-striped barber poles and over the small bridge…

    …or by going down this narrow calle [‘calle’ (‘cä-lay) = ‘street’].

    Poste Vecie is said to date from the 1500s and like many restaurants in Venice, it claims to be the oldest.

    Ristorante Terrazza Sommariva

    And there is very nice alfresco, canal-side dining just south of the afore-mentioned Rialto Bridge. Here is the quaint Ristorante Terrazza Sommariva. It is skinny and long enough that we had no idea that our traveling companions Debbie and Scott were eating at the other end during our ‘on-your-own’ time. Here are some lunch-time photos.

    Shopping

    I would have to say that the shopping for high-end fashion goods is not as prolific in San Polo as it is in San Marco…and personally, I like that. I like to find those little, out of the way gems. Here is one of those shops where the craftsmen carve wood into fabulous works of art, like these in their window. I stopped in for a chat one trip and got invited to visit the workshop. Fascinating.

    And on the Rialto Bridge, we were so charmed with the fine jewelry in Jovon that we got my lovely wife a beautiful 35th anniversary ring. This shop, which specializes in carved coral cameos, has been on the Rialto bridge for 83 years, and is still owned and run by the same Jovon family. Again, friendly shop keepers are the rule in Venice!

    Lodging

    I can’t give you any personal experiences regarding staying in San Polo. There are a number of well-regarded hotels here, though. We find TripAdvisor to be an excellent source of user-reviewed lodging. 

    I would say stay here if you want to be close to some great food and want to be off the beaten path. But realize that San Polo does get lots of tourists seeing the marvelous things I’ve pointed out above, so you might not get the tranquility you seek if you are near the main thoroughfare between the Rialto Market and the Accademia (which will be covered in an upcoming article on the sestiere of Dorsoduro). 

    Fine

    I found a lot of families out and about in San Polo.

    I'll close with a few more photos taken within the sestiere of San Polo. Please click and enjoy!

    And I say goodbye by presenting these two lovable characters. We love Venice, and we especially love its people!

    I hope to bump into you as we walk the calle of the sestiere of San Polo.

    Ciao for now,

    Steve

     

    ps: A reminder once more that language will not be a barrier in your Italy travels...you speak English...they speak English...everyone happy!

    The Results Are In -- Part 13

    I had planned to tell you of the Venetian sestiere of San Polo this week...but something came up

    Isn't this time of year great?! The hectic holidays are over, the decorations are mostly put away, we are back to work and our routines...there is time to take a breath and catch up on things that need catching up on. That's what I was doing when I made a discovery.

    Last year, my wife Ellen gave me a fabulous subscription to a magazine called "Italia!". This monthly publication is about...you guessed it, Italy! The byline of their magazine, published in Great Britain, is "Holidays - Property - Food - Wine - Culture - People". 

    I enjoy reading this magazine each month. I especially like the sections on food, as there are excellent recipes in each issue. And each issue is dedicated to a different region or town of Italy, so you get a smorgasbord (not sure there is an Italian word for that) of regional dishes over the years.  

    As I write this, I had just taken a few moments to catch up on my Italia! reading when I picked up the September, 2016, issue. Travel and the holidays had created neglect on my part in staying abreast with the Italian scene. As I do with each issue, I was tearing out page after page to save articles for later reading and recipes for later execution (this issue has some great recipes for appetizers from Venice, as well as some pasta sauces), when something caught my eye.

    There on the "Readers Photo Competition!" page near the front of the magazine was one of my photos. I had submitted it several months past, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had won the first place award for that issue. My prize? A free one-year subscription to Italia!

    Here is page 6 showing my winning photo...

    I was thinking that you might have seen this photo before in one of my photo transformation articles, but as I looked back, I saw that I have not done that...until today.

    So, what follows is how this winning photo came to be.

    But first, a reminder about just what a 'water gate' is. As small canals crisscross Venice, most of the larger palazzo have entrances at both a pedestrian level from the walkways of Venice, but also at the water level. Remember that Venice is a city of walking and boating...and that's it. When you go to visit your friends, it was, and is, just so much nicer to go by gondola and be dropped off at a water gate, like this one. And it is much easier for the supplies for your home to be dropped off by boat, rather then being hauled over bridge after bridge on their way to your home. 

    As I was standing directly across a small canal from this water gate, I was just a bit difficult to get the whole of the door and its surroundings into one photo. So I took three photos and stitched them together in Photoshop. Are are the original three photos.

    And here is the photo that resulted after stitching these three together into one image. If you want to see any of the photos below in greater detail, just click on the image.

    As you can see, the resulting image is a bit wonky, and it needs a good bit of adjustment, so that's what I did. But, before I go there, I have to admit that I am constantly amazed as I make my photo transformations -- of Venice in particular. That rather blah, unassuming snapshot above does absolutely nothing aesthetically for me as it now stands. But, that challenge of making magic to give you that Venice of another age is what drives me in my transformations.

    Here is what the image looks like now.

    The composition is just as I want it. The elements of the photo -- the brick, stone, wood and glass -- are just as I want them, too. And I really like the warm, yellowish glow coming from that one panel on the door to the right. I'm thinking that this particular element is what I need to enhance to make this image into a fine-art photograph. 

    So, here is this water gate after working that nice evening glow into all of the glass elements of the photo. 

    But remember, this evening glow has nothing to do with the evening, as the original snapshots were taken during the day. So my final job is to transform this ancient, Venetian, functional water gate, into a sight as you might have seen it one evening as you strolled Venice in another time. Here is the final image.

    As you can see, I've emphasized the texture of the brick and stone work, and the glass transmits that nice glow from within this timeless building. And I've tried to call attention to the ubiquitous, relief-carved keystones of the archways of Venice, as well. Finally, I hope that I've cast just enough late-night light onto the subject, for you. 

    Now, take a moment to think about what is going on behind those doors. And perhaps what has gone on behind those doors over several centuries...remember, Venice is well-over a thousand years old. 

    I was pleasantly surprised to find my photo as the winner in Italia! magazine. I hope that you are pleasantly surprised at today's transformation. 

    Interested in receiving Italia! magazine yourself each month? Click here to see how.

     

    Ciao for now,

    Steve