Life in Venice

Today was much better weather – not a drop of rain, and that lifted spirits all around. We planned a full day of tourism, though we have intentionally not queued up in line to see the major sights we have seen before. St. Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace now require reservations made well in advance, and that just didn’t appeal.

We started with a look at Teatro La Fenice, the Venetian opera house opened in 1792, and renowned in the history of opera. The next stop was a thematic partner, a lovely former church now dedicated to musical instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries. Would love to hear them played in that room.

We spent some time in the Accademia, not wanting to skip Venice’s top art museum. The Italian masters are here in abundance, and they were stunning. The palazzo itself is gorgeous.

Time for a church – but not just any church. Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, known by its familiars as Frari, was built by 1338 and enlarged during the next century. Its campanile is the second largest after that of San Marco. As with many Venetian churches, the exterior is rather plain. In addition to a Titian main altar painting, a Donatello John the Baptist and a Bellini altar painting, the church also contains the tomb of Titian, the well-celebrated genius of the 16th-century Venetian school of painting. A rather stunning church.

And then we dropped in on Palazzo Macenigo. It was rebuilt extensively at the start of the 17th century and was the residence of one of the most important Venetian families. Seven members of the family were Doges of Venice, and lots of others were cardinals of the church. That did not seem to stop them from having an extensive family tree. The building is now a museum of fabrics and costumes, with a side interest in the fragrances that were developed in Venice. (New versions sold in their gift shop under “The Merchant of Venice” label. Guess someone had to use it.) The costumes are original, though they look brand new. This is one of those places where Murano glass chandeliers really fit.

And then there is the general (crowded) magic of Venice itself….

..ending with your musical treat for the day.

Don’s Food Corner

For the second day in a row we were able to find the recommended restaurant we searched out AND it was open.  A record?  Finding it was no small feat.  It was down an unmarked alley — or calle as they might call it in Venice — under overhanging buildings.  But there it was.  This is obviously a destination restaurant since it is mentioned in many books, including high praise in Michelin.  The restaurant was pretty full.  Surprisingly, not many restaurants seem full.  Despite what we think are crowds, this is not the high season yet.  In fact, we noticed that walking tours don’t start up until June 9.

All was very fine in this restaurant.  Everything was very efficient, nicely presented and perfectly prepared.  But there was a certain perfunctory atmosphere that might be a result of being so highly recommended.

For the record:  We shared a platter of ravioli with meat sauce.  It was just what we’ve come to expect in a nice restaurant.  Then, I had two small whole sole fish, grilled.  Perfect.  Since the fish market was around the corner, I assume it couldn’t have been fresher.  In fact, the specialty of the restaurant was a great variety of fish.  The sole tasted almost sweet.  Jo, eschewing the fish to continue an unblemished record of scaloppine tasting, tried this restaurant’s Milanese version, meaning breaded and fried.  It wasn’t the best version of the trip; we’re hoping for better when we get closer to the dish’s namesake, Milan. A perfectly fine Soave wine went with the meal.

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