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This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

Learning to Cook Italian

Who doesn’t love Italian food?! Not many of you, I’m sure. It’s become one of our favorite comfort foods: think of a fettuccine pasta with a Bolognese sauce on a cold winter day. Or a four-cheese ravioli with a brown-butter-sage sauce almost anytime.  Buon appetito!

We spent a few fun hours learning techniques for preparing some typical Italian dishes from two experts — Patrizia and Mama at Per Tutti I Gusti.  The ‘we’ I refer to were in-laws Leslie and Craig, wife Ellen, and me. And let’s not forget new friends — newlyweds Lihi & Ido, Barbara & Jim, and Linda & Kevin. The twelve of us had plenty of room to move around Patrizia’s well-appointed working kitchen. Enough talk – let’s get started!

 

Per Tutti I Gusti is located on the spine of one of the many Piemonte piemonte (that would be ‘foothills’, which is why this region of Italy is called ‘Piemonte’) about 4 twisty-turny miles above and northeast of the town of Alba. As you can see on the aerial view, agriculture is king here, with vineyards and orchards along both sides of the road. And oh, be sure to slow down on that hairpin curve!

But enough talk…let’s cook!

 

OK, I need to talk just a tad bit more. This article will be relying on a great new program from Adobe that is free for all to use. It is called Adobe Spark. It allows you to create web pages with very little effort, whether you are using your computer, smart phone or iPad-like device. It is as simple as dragging-and-dropping your photos into Spark and then adding captions if you want. It’s as easy as scrolling to view your newly-created web page.

So, I now direct you to a Spark page that I created to show you our most excellent cooking adventure. Just click the button and then scroll away.

Want to create your own Spark page? See how here at Spark.


Finally, here are a few photos of two of my grandkids helping me to make pasta at home, now that we know how to do so, thanks to Per Tutti I Gusti. We are using my new, fully electric ‘Imperia Restaurant’ pasta sheeter with cutter attachment.


Are you planning to go to Italy? (If not, why the heck not?!) I would strongly suggest that you work Piemonte into your plans. And after doing that, go ahead and work in a few hours of cooking instruction at: Per Tutti I Gusti


I hope you enjoyed making an Italian lunch with us! Until next time buon appetito, and…

Ciao for now,

Steve



Milano : Go? or, No Go?

Index of Articles

[NOTE: If you don’t envision ever traveling to Milano for a bit of sightseeing, you might want to skip this rather wordy article…but at least take a look at the photos to see if your interest might be peeked]

This article focuses on the cultural side of Italy, usually found while you are in one of the larger cities. The question I put before you is, ‘Should you spend a significant amount of your precious time in Milano?’

OK, you are planning a trip to Italy. You will have limited time, and you want to make the most of that time whilst there. Generally, there are two potential primary venues for your trip’s focus. Perhaps you want a cultural experience -- one where you find yourself in the larger, history-laden Italian cities, with a focus on art museums and churches. Or, maybe you will be focusing on the Italian countryside experience -- its people, land, wine and food. More than likely, you will be shooting for a bit of both of these venues.

This article focuses on the cultural side of Italy, usually found while you are in one of the larger cities. The question I put before you is, “Should you spend a significant amount of your precious time in Milano?” Here is my opinion.

An Italian city’s cultural draw is not defined by its population. For instance, Rome is the largest city at 2.3-million people, and has a huge cultural footprint (more below).  But Florence, Italy’s 8th-largest city, has only 350,000, and also super-cultural. And then there’s little Venice, which is chock-a-block full of culture, but is the 110th-largest city, and tips in at only 50,000 Venetians!

Of course there are undeniably many other cities of culture in Italy, like Verona, Palermo, Turin, Bologna, Naples and others; but, I am confident that the three cities of Rome, Florence and Venice make up the Big-3 for those seeking overall cultural satisfaction. And, if you go to the website of a city-aggregating travel agency, you will find, front-and-center, itineraries for Rome-Florence-Italy, complete with connecting first-class trains. 

Now, let’s add Milano to the list of biggest cities, as it is indeed Italy’s second largest city – tipping in at about 1.2-million inhabitants. So, it’s a big city. But, does that mean it’s worth a significant amount of your sightseeing time if you are seeking the most interesting cultural sights? 

I have spent time in Rome, Milano, Florence and Venice seeking my own Italian-cultural awakening. Though Rome is a good bit larger, it has a charm that is missing in Milano. Consider Rome’s centro storico, or historical center.  It is about 5 square miles and holds most all of what you would think about when you think of Rome – that would be the Vatican, with its museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s, the Spanish Steps, Forum, Colosseum, catacombs, Trevi fountain, Piazza Colonna, Pantheon, Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, Villa Borghese, Piazza Venezia, Trastevere, a whole bunch of beautiful churches, and many, many museums – pretty much everything you would want to see if visiting the whole of Rome…and it’s all right there in one central location.

Then there is Florence. It is considered to be one of the most walkable cities in the world, and at its fabulous centro storico, you find almost all it has to offer in less than a 1/3-square-mile area. In that area is the: Duomo with climbable dome and Baptistery; Accademia where David stands tall; storied Uffizi Gallery with over 100 rooms and a 5-hour wait in the summer; Ponte Vecchio, intentionally left undamaged by the Germans in WW2; Piazza delle Signora; Basilica Santa Croce, housing Gallileo’s tomb, among others; Santa Maria del Fiore; Pallazo Pitti; Boboli Gardens; Basilica of Santa Maria Novella; all of the Medici lore and properties; etc.

And then there’s Venice. It’s unique in that the centro storico is pretty much the whole lagoon island of Venice proper, with its six sestiere making up an area about 1.25 miles square. Add in the charming and historical parts of the Giudeca, the island of Murano, as well as the island of Burano. The whole place is full of historical charm, art, architecture, etc. Almost by definition, it’s a floating museum that is assuredly impossible to understand until you’ve been there.

And now to Milano. Milano, in my humble opinion, has a centro storico of about 5 square blocks, not miles. That area contains the Duomo with its piazza, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and La Scala. To be sure, there are museums like the Sforza Castle, monuments and piazzas galore in Milano. But they are spread out over an area of less-than-charming commercial/residential neighborhoods with their maze of crowded streets.  And of course there’s Piazza di Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’ masterpiece can be found, which is about a not-in-anyway-charming mile from the centro storico.

I’m not trying to beat up on Milano, but as a tourist with limited time to spend in Italy, there is much more to see of historical interest in Rome and, of course, Venice, and then of course, Florence. If you want to see the sights of Milan, I would say that you can do it easily in a day…I’ve done it twice…once on a 3-hour train layover and more recently in about a 5 hour visit.

But don’t let me denigrate the cultural features within Milano’s centro storico, because they do have some magnificent features, though they be few.

 

The Duomo of Milano

First, is the Duomo. This basilica has the most fascinating façade of any you will find in Italy, or anywhere else for that matter. To be exact, there are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 other figures that decorate the exterior of the Duomo of Milano!

It is the largest church in Italy (remember that St. Peter's Basilica is in the ‘country’ of Vatican City), the third largest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world.

What we find so interesting is that you are encouraged to walk around on the roof. It is such a treat to be way up there among all of those carved features. The tricky walking ‘path’ is such that one would not be allowed this opportunity within the U.S. And everywhere you look, there seems to be a statue, either sitting atop a spire, or embedded within some other feature.

Did you know that Napoleon was crowned King if Italy at the Duomo in 1805? Well, he was – though ‘Italy’ was a rather loose term at the time, with the country of Italy being established in only 1861. And as the time for his coronation approached, he directed that the embellishments of the Duomo’s façade be quickly completed at the expense of France. Though the façade was completed, France never coughed up the funds. Maybe the check got lost in the mail?

Yes, the inside of the church is large, though a bit austere. Nothing like the embellishments of St Peter’s in Rome.

 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Now to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is basically a shopping mall. But not just any mall. Built in the mid-1860s, it has a four-story double arcade (like a plus sign), all covered with glass, and with a central glass dome.

The ends of each of the four entrances are open, so a nice breeze passes through. It’s named after the first king of the true Kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.

Note the statues adorning the walls of the fourth floor…you can see them in the previous photo, also…and each is different

The floors are covered in mosaic-patterned marble and all-in-all, it is a very impressive sight. Especially considering when it was designed and constructed…about the time of our U.S. Civil War.

Of course, Milano is the fashion capital of Italy, and the Galleria has it all.

I was fortunate to join a supermodel photo shoot as they were strutting their stuff in the Galleria.

 

La Scala Opera

If you are an opera fan, you probably dream of attending one of your favorites at the La Scala opera house. It was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala (New Royal-Ducal Theatre at the Scala).

It’s called the ‘new’ theater because the original one burned down in 1776, about the time our forefathers were signing the Declaration of Independence. At the site of the new opera house was the church of Santa Maria alla Scala (that would be St Mary of the Ladder, by the way…go figure), which was de-consecrated and torn down to make way for the now-famous La Scala.

Whatever you might call it, call the inside of La Scala beautiful.

But in spite of its beauty, the opera fans can get quite rowdy…it they don’t like a singer, they will let it be known. You’re going to love what happened during the 2006 season opener. When his rendition of the duet aria Celeste Aida was greeted by boos and whistles, Roberto Alagna, a world-renowned tenor, stopped singing and walked off, leaving his startled partner in the duet stranded on stage. The understudy Antonello Palombi was literally thrown onto the stage a few moments later, dressed in jeans rather than a costume. In case you are wondering, Antonello did well. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have been there to see that!

 

Leonardo De Vinci’s Last Supper

About a mile outside of the centro storico you will find Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’. It is located next to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in an unassuming museum called Cenacolo Vinciano.

You must get tickets in advance, and as they are quite popular and are released only two-months in advance, you’ve got to be prepared. Alternatively, various tour companies gather up bundles of tickets. We used GetYourGuide for ours. The folks in the photo at right-above don’t look very happy…they just walked a mile in the Milano heat along streets crowded with traffic to get to the second half of this ‘Best of Milan Tour’…we taxied.

The Last Supper is located at one end of a large, windowless room. We were captivated by the painting and its size…it’s really big at 15’ by 30’.

The friars did something really strange to the painting. The kitchen lay behind the wall of the painting (which didn’t help to create a humidity-controlled atmosphere), so they cut a hole in the wall, removing Christ’s feet, as well as those of some of His disciples. A couple of Da Vini’s assistants painted large canvases of his masterpiece, and these are well preserved today, giving us a much better idea of what the original work looked like. These paintings were used by the restorers to fill in missing information.

The Last Supper is not-quite-a-fresco. If it was a true fresco, it would be in much better shape. A fresco is painted on wet plaster and when it dries, the paint is embedded into the plaster. Da Vinci painted the Last Supper on already-dried plaster, which has led to a bit of peeling (actually, a lot of peeling) and several restorations over the years.

Here is what the painting looked like in 1975, before significant restoration at the turn of our century. We were pleased to see the current, restored version.

Turns out that Leonardo was a bit spirited. A prior from the monastery complained to Da Vinci about the amount of time it was taking him to finish the painting (from 1495 to 1498). Leonardo wrote to the abbot of the monastery, explaining he had been struggling to find the perfect villainous face for Judas’, and that if he could not find a face corresponding with what he had in mind, he would use the features of the prior who complained. Hah!

Here are the names of the apostles in the painting, from your left to right: Bartholomew, James the Minor, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Jesus, Thomas, James the Greater, Phillip, Matthew, Jude and Simon.

Last_supper_right_wall.jpg

During WWII, the allies did a bit of bombing in our fight against the Germans. At least one bomb landed on the friary, but in anticipation of such an event, the painting was protected, as can be seen in this photo.

 

There is a wall-covering painting by Giovanni Donato called ‘Crucifixion’ at the other end of the room. This one is in better shape, as it is a true fresco, painted on wet plaster.

 

So, that’s about it for cultural interest, though as stated before, there are other museums scattered around Milano. If you find yourself in Milano by design or in a layover, by all means, take a few hours to see these fabulous sights. Otherwise, if you have one day in Italy to see historic sights, spend it in Rome, Venice or Florence, where each is full of fascinating things to see. Have two days? Then spend them in those same cities, as you can easily fill those two days in each. Do you have a week you want to dedicate to historical sights? Then divide your time among those cities. After you’ve satisfied yourself with what you’ve seen in Rome, Florence and Venice, then go spend a day in Milano.


How I Would See Cultural Milano

Here’s how I would see Milan: take a tour…one that includes the historical area around the Duomo, as well as Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’.  You will find nice, live-guided, English-spoken tours by searching for (in no particular order) Veditalia, Viator, GetYuorGuide, Trip Advisor, and others. Or, if you are in the off-season when you don’t have to fight for entrance tickets (if that time actually exists!), see the sights on your own. Have a nice street-side trattoria lunch and a roof-top dinner. Then, as Milano is the transportation hub of Northern Italy, get up in the morning and head to points north (like the Lake District), points east (like Verona and Venice), points south (like Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi coast, and Sicily), or points west (like Piemonte and Cinque Terra). There is so much more to see and do in Italy than to wander the uninteresting and disagreeable, traffic-laden streets of Milano.  


In closing, for me, whether to visit Milano depends on:

  1. How much time you have to spend in Italy;

  2. How much of that time you want to spend on historical art and architecture, versus Italy’s charming countryside; and

  3. Whether you’ve already seen the cultural sights of the aforementioned cities.

By now, I think you probably get the point…at least I hope so.

And I’ll probably visit Milano again at some point. If you’re climbing those spiral, stone steps to the top of the Duomo, that’s probably me just ahead of you doing the huffing-and-puffing on the way up!

Ciao for now,

Steve

The Results Are In -- Part 14

Index of Articles

While I was away for a bit, I am pleased to say that recognition of my photography once again came my way. This particular recognition came from the Vermont PhotoPlace Gallery. The gallery is located in the oldest remaining residence in Middlebury, Vermont. It was built in 1799 as a residence for the foreman of the water mill on Otter Creek. I haven’t been there, but it’s said to be a beautiful structure, with sagging, hand-hewn beams of lumber from local virgin forest of yesteryear.

I received word that one of my photos was selected for the juried show of July, 2018 — a show simply titled, “Black & White 2018”. Each year this gallery departs from a specific monthly theme to display black and white photos that they feel merit exhibition.

Here is the photo that was selected for the exhibition. I have titled this photo, “Sunset Gospel” — a play on the fact that the sun has set on this particular old church.

Sunset Gospel

I am always pleased when one of my personal favorite photos is selected for framing and exhibition, and this one is one of my favorites. i was doubly pleased (is that possible?) that my photo was selected for two other honors for the exhibition: it was blown up to 36” x 54” for the large banner advertising the upcoming showing; and it was the featured photo on their website’s banner, shown below.

WebsiteBanner.jpg

The story of how the photo came about is typical of my photo journeys through the southwest. I am drawn to the communities that have begun to fade away, or have already done so. There were hopes and dreams involved with each structure I find abandoned. Someone selected a paint color, cooked in a kitchen that they organized, worked in a shop, preached at a pulpit, taught in front of a blackboard, served up a chicken-fried steak that probably covered the plate. So many busted dreams and broken hearts. But I hope along the way there were times of love, snuggling, happiness, warmth, success and fulfillment.

I came upon this structure in Grenville, New Mexico, just before sunset. Grenville is located between Clayton and Raton. Though I have traveled this road often, I had not noticed this small community sitting just off the highway. According to census figures, the population of Grenville in 2000 was 25 souls. Here is a photo of Grenville as it sits today. The red rectangle defines the building depicted in Sunset Gospel.

Here is the main entrance from the highway to the Village of Grenville.

Though not going strong, I’m guessing that Grenville is not at all down and out. A welcome sign, some concrete sidewalk, a picnic table with a tiny bit of afternoon shade, and a community center complete with a piano, are testament to community pride. I’m guessing that those who live here enjoy their community. I’m optimistic that their hopes and dreams are being realized each day while hundreds pass by without even noticing the place they call home — which is probably the way they like it.

Sorry for the departure from things Italian! We’ll get back to Italy next time.

Ciao for now,

Steve

Another Way Into Italy!

Your typical arrival in Italy is by air at one of the large-airport cities, like Rome, Florence, Milan or Venice. But, there is another way…one that is beautiful, fun and relaxing.  It’s the way we’ve arrived in Italy on four different occasions. What way, you say? That’s the train way for a day — from Zurich, Switzerland.

Why start your Italy journey in Zurich? Because, you get an enjoyable start to overcoming your jet lag and getting comfortably acclimated to the Italian time zone without having to sleepwalk your way through churches and museums on your first day in Europe. The Swiss trains are very comfy and you will see beautiful countryside (as you doze off-and-on) heading south.

...you get an enjoyable start to overcoming your jet lag and getting comfortably acclimated to the Italian time zone without having to sleepwalk your way through churches and museums on your first day in Europe.

Flying into Zurich is not a problem, even direct from the U.S.  If you are one of my European readers, you have many options, of course.  Once you arrive at the Zurich airport and leave customs, you have the convenience of a train station right there in the airport. The station name is ‘Zurich Flughafen’, which translates to ‘Zurich Airport’.  It can’t be any easier than that to start your journey!

I will cover three routes from Zurich to your Italy gateway city of Milano, Italy…a direct route, a scenic route, and an absolutely gorgeous route that requires an overnight stay (in Switzerland) that is well worth your time. And, there are bonus stops you can take advantage of along the way.

You will be using the Swiss railway website at www.SBB.CH. Their website is easy to use and is a joy compared to some other nations’ train websites.  Their route solutions will even include cable car and bus connections to get you to your destination…more on that later.

 

Fastest Direct Route

Click on maps to enlarge

This route is simply the one you will find when creating your Zurich Flughafen to Milano journey on the outstanding Swiss railway website. Click the map thumbnail to see the route.

This route will take you just under 4 hours to arrive at Milano Centrale station. But, one of the features of this route that we’ve taken advantage of is a Bonus Stop at beautiful Lake Como…and I suggest that you do this too, of course. See my articles on Go There: Bellagio and Getting There: Bellagio for the wonders of Lake Como and bella Bellagio.

 

Scenic Mountainous Route

Are you up for a train ride that seems to climb straight up the Alps on their way to Italy? Then the route that includes the Bernina Express is the route for you. This map will show you how you will accomplish this journey.

A view from your train, early in the trip

Traveling from Zurich Flughafen to Chur and then St Moritz happens in scenic valleys. The countryside is just as you had imagined it…pastoral green fields with Swiss chalets.

 

However, going from St Moritz to Tirano, just inside Italy, is a whole different experience. As you can see in the accompanying photos, you are in for high-altitude travel. We were right there among the peaks and glaciers.

The high-mountain lakes were still frozen during our late-May Bernina Express adventure

And on this late-May trip, we had this clean, efficient train car mostly to ourselves

And yes, those are skiers at the base of this run. And note the size of the cable car!

This route will take about 6 hours from Zurich Flughafen to Tirano, and then another 2:30 hours to Milano from Tirano. We opted to overnight in Tirano, completing our journey to Milano and then Venice the following day.

Tirano has more of a clean, Swiss influence than one of Italian quaintness, a product of its location sitting almost right on the border. But, at least delicious prosciutto and caprese salad were available.

BerninaSign-1.JPG

It seems that the Bernina Express has been delighting travelers for well over one-hundred years

Here’s your Bonus Stop – Depart the train along Lake Como when you reach the town of Varenna (the Varenna-Esino station) and then take the ferry to Bellagio for the night. Before you go, compare the online ferry schedule to the arriving train schedule to determine your ferry connection timing.  Bellagio is not the only Lake Como overnight spot. A stay in Varenna is a great option. Or Menaggio. Or Cadenabbia.

 

The Ultimate Swiss-to-Italy Route

We’ve done this journey twice and we highly recommend it.

The highlight is an overnight venture to the Bernese Oberland area of Switzerland…specifically through the Lauterbrunnen Valley to the quaint hillside (maybe I should say ‘cliffside’) town of Murren.

Murren is one of those no-automobile towns which is only accessible by cable car. It was a shame to spend just one night here on both of our trips, as there is much to do in this area, especially if you are into a bit of alpine hiking. The scenery is breathtaking, as I hope you can gain from the accompanying photos.

 

That’s the Lauterbrunnen valley in the photo below. Not very spectacular, is it? Our destination is Murren, just on the other side of that ridge. We take a cable car from a point at the bottom-right edge of the photo, which then connects to a small train that moves along the hillside on the middle-right of the photo, terminating at Murren. Alternatively, make your way to the end of this beautiful valley via yellow postal bus to Stechelberg where a two-leg cable car whisks you up to Murren.

This is the view from our cable car, as we begin our ascent. That’s Staubbach Waterfall dropping from the cliff face on the right.

Wow! That’s the view from the hillside-hugging train as we make our way to isolated Murren.

We’ve arrived at Murren’s small train station. Left to right are in-laws Craig and Leslie, my wife Ellen, and me.

 

We are definitely in a quaint, charming, exhilarating, absolutely gorgeous Swiss town, nestled in the Swiss Alps.

The views from town are stunning!

If you’re hungry, this pretty fraulein can help you. Goulash, spaetzle and beer is on the menu. And the view from the deck is amazing!

A highlight of a visit to Murren is the cable car ride to The Schilthorn, made famous in the James Bond hit “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” – debuting 50 years ago.  The views, the views, the views…on the way up, on the way down, and at the top!

Chalets dot the mountainside as we ascend to The Schilthorn.

Low clouds hide the mountain peaks, but we are flabbergasted, yes flabbergasted, by the alpine scenery! When was the last time you were flabbergasted?!

Here is our destination, The Schilthorn of James Bond fame.

Ellen seems to be on top of the World.

 

Now THAT, was a great day. Tomorrow, an early departure will get you to Milano before lunch. But wait, there is another Bonus Stop along the way. Your Milano-bound train will traverse the shores of Lake Maggiore, passing through the lakeside town of Stresa. A stop here for the day…or better yet overnight…will allow you to lunch at Ristorante Verbano on the Fisherman’s Island before a visit to Isolo Bella with its fabulous Palazzo Borromeo and gardens. I will cover a visit to these sights in a future article.

 

Earlier, I praised the Swiss train website. Here’s why: not only is it easy to use, but it guides you effortlessly from one route connection to another, no matter what mode of transportation is involved in your journey. For example, if you wanted to go directly from Zurich Flughafen to The Schilthorn, just plug that into the departure and destination input boxes and you will be presented with the entire solution to your journey, including connections for each of the 5 trains and 3 cable cars needed to make your fabulous 3-hour-and-40-minute trip. And, this Swiss train website does not limit you to trains within Switzerland. Plug in Paris as you destination and you will see solutions for your 5-hour trip to the Paris-Gare de Lyon station. Or, London in 8 hours. Or either Venice or Rome in 7 hours. It’s all there.

 

On whichever route you find yourself as you travel from Zurich to Italy, I am sure that this day of leisure and scenic beauty will be one that will help you to acclimate to a new time zone as you start your next Italian adventure.  I’ll see you on the train…that’s me sitting across from you…and oh, I’m not dozing…I’m just resting my eyes.

 

Ciao for now,

Steve

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.

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Ciao for now,

Steve

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