|A View to a Thrill|
|St. Mark's Basilica|
|House of God|
|Gondola's for Hire|
So why am I feeling sad in a happy kind of way?
I think it's because I learned that Venice is now an exterior shell. The city's people, along with much of its heart and soul, have relocated elsewhere. In fact, according to the tour guide we spent time with, there are only about 58,000 full time residents in a city that once boasted a residential population of 175,000 in the early 1950s. Been to Disney? Know how the Main Street is just a shuttered facade of joyful commercialism? That is where Venice is headed. Boutique hotels, restaurants and shops of all shapes and sizes now make up the "Main Street" where there were once Venetian families living life. I've linked an interesting article on the topic in the side bar. Ticket lines, huge cruise ships and crowds of tourists like us have changed the face of a city where St. Mark the Evangelist's remains were returned from Egypt, heralded by the construction of St. Mark's Basilica in the year 828, and when Venice became City of the Winged Lion.
That being said, we adored Venice and hope to return. If you go, put these two "must see" places on your list after making the typical tourist rounds: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the island of Burano (yes, with a B).
Peggy Guggenheim, the socialite whose father went down with the Titanic, purchased the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on the Grand Canal in 1949. It now houses her vast collection of modern art, from Surrealism to Cubism, as well as a modern sculpture garden. She collected and exhibited Jackson Pollock before he was Jackson Pollock. For several years she purchased "a picture a day" from the cutting edge of the modern art movement including, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Ernst, Picasso, Calder, Miro, and Dali and many more. Even if modernism is not your thing, wandering the Palazzo and gardens captures the imagination of what it was like for Peggy to live in such a beautiful space from the 1950s until her death in 1979.
|Alexander Calder "The Cow" 1970|
|Marino Marini "The Angel of the City" 1948|
|The view from Peggy's bedroom|
|Jackson Pollock "Circumcision" 1946|
|Man Ray "Peggy Guggenheim" 1925(?)|
|Rene Magritte "Empire of Light" 1953-1954|
|Pablo Picasso "On The Beach" 1937 (reportedly Peggy's favorite)|
|Robert Delaunay "Windows Open Simultaneously Part 1" 1912|
|A view through the jeweled gate to the sculpture garden|
Spending our final day on Burano was a family highlight. This colorful island remains one less travelled, a place where you can still see families walking together and children playing in the square. While Murano is known for glass, Burano is known for textile and lace making families with histories dating back to the 15th century. Of course, I shopped at Emilia Atelier and left with an embroidered linen tablecloth (thanks darling husband!) and a tour of the family's lace making museum.
|Color Washed Canal|
|Colors of the Sun|
|Burano Under a Blue Sky|
|Even the Laundry is Photogenic|
I cherish our dear boy's exclamation as we vaporettoed through the Grand Canal, "I'm proud to be in the land of my ancestors!" Lucky for him, there are more ancestors and more lands to explore. Ciao Venezia.