Sunday, July 12, 2009

San Giorgio Maggiore

July 11, 2009

This morning we walked to the Rialto, which as everyone knows is the place to buy everything. Peter was able to get a travel razor since he seems to have left the charger for his regular one at home. Then, since we had the luxury of time on a Saturday morning, we went on to the Internet point and spent more time than usual catching up before continuing on to the Ferrovia (train station) to get our ticket for Mantova for next Saturday morning.

Our tour provider contacted us and said that she would let the barge operator know that we would not have the voucher. Since they have everyone's name, it won't be a problem as long as they know. Standing in line at the station was interesting. We had lots of time, which is why we do these things in advance. The people behind us were trying to catch a train leaving subito so we said they could go ahead. Unfortunately the people in front of took so much time that it didn't matter. The people we gave our place to missed their train to Verona anyway. However the good thing in Italy is that there would be another one in an hour or two. On the other hand, the women working in the ticket office decided to close the office and take a break at that point. So we all just waited for them to come back. No one knew what was happening when they put up the sign saying chiuso but no one wanted to lose their place since it was only noon and the ticket office wasn't supposed to close until 1:30. The Italians were more upset than we were. One woman muttered mal educati, which means ill-mannered.

Tomorrow there is a train strike all over Italy, so lots of people are upset. Fortunately we aren't going anywhere tomorrow, at least not outside of Venice. The strike is expected to last until 9 pm so most people will be stranded wherever they are all day. Anyway, after our train station adventure we took the vaporetto home, had lunch and made our daily trek to Billa. We know it would be better to shop at the market, especially to practice our Italian, but with our limited cooking facilities and tiny refrigerator, it isn't worth it. Anyway, I am hoping that I got enough stuff to be able to skip shopping on Sunday.

In the afternoon we went to San Giorgio Maggiore to see Peter Greenaway's multimedia presention of Veronese's "Le Nozze di Cana." The original painting was done for the refectory of the church and is now in the Louvre, one of the many pieces of art that were taken from Venice as part of "war reparations," this in 1806. It has been recreated in the last few years as a faithful copy of the original and it is this copy that Greenaway brought to life with music, words and special effects. It is part of a series that began with Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" in Amsterdam in 2006. I wish we could have seen that. I saw "The Night Watch" last December for the first time and it was wonderful. Unfortunately these seem to be emphemeral pieces. You can only see them when they are performed, not later on tv or DVD. This is the only one so far that has taken place where the painting was originally meant to be seen. It was really worth the price of admission. We really liked the presentation, the music (Gabrielli), and the dialog (Venetian, but there is a second showing in English). Veronese, after all, meant the painting to represent a conversation. The effects were superb. It will probably be the only thing we see from the Biennale, but it is the one thing we really wanted to see.

We also, of course, saw Palladio's church, including Longhena's tomb and stopped on Guidecca, where we snuck into the Redentore just as it was closing. Then we took the vaporetto to Zattere and walked back. There was a band doing Beatles songs at Campo San Barnaba as part of a July music festival in Venice. Then we sat out in one of our local bars and I had aranciata and Peter had succo d'arancia and a pastry while we watched people go by, sparrows steal chips, and a bunch of pigeons knock over bowls, glasses, etc. to get chips and peanuts after some patrons left an adjoining table. There was broken glass, chips and peanuts everywhere. So we got quite a show. It was quite a while before either of us was hungry enough to want anything else to eat.

I finished both Wanting by Richard Flanagan and The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold today. You probably couldn't find two more different novels to read at one time but I enjoyed them both very much. Now I have gone back to one of my old favorites, Our Mutual Friend. I had planned to reread Anna Karenina but I decided on this instead. Perhaps it was reading Wanting that made me decide to read some Dickens instead. When I get home, I will probably want to read something about polar exploration too since that was one of the subjects of the novel, perhaps the newish biography of Crozier.

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