Sunday, January 27, 2008

Two more days in Venice

The City declared a day of mourning on Saturday because two young men were killed in an industrial accident in one of the port zones of the city. So all the public events were canceled. Some will be rescheduled for Sunday. So the crowds were only moderate with some people dressed up. We continued our walks around the city and museum tours.A view from the top of the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal. It is a huge stone arch covered with shops.William wanted to stop and look at the farmer's market. We also looked at all the fish and saw no eels. We did see sardines. Here in Venice they serve them Venetian style, which is slightly picked in onions with slight additional variations such as with pine nuts and raisins.
Venice used to depend on rain water. The squares were tilted to drains which went to large central cisterns. There was some sort of sand filtration, but people then drew their water out of the cistern via a hand pump. The cisterns are about 4-5 feet across and still visible, but locked up. Now water is piped in from the mountains. Those people who do not have a running drinking water system in their rooms can come to public fountains to draw water. In this square you can see a man filling jugs next to a tree. As with many of these paved over cities trees are rare. Dogs go crazy when they see one.Cioccolata calda; We happened into a small cafe that did it right--although I did not know what I would be getting when I ordered a hot chocolate--What I got was a thick rich hot chocolate pudding like thing. Served in a big cup and edible only with a spoon that you could set on the top. Fantastic and way more than I bargained for!I insisted on a gondola ride and got a very nice one. Down the cold shadowy waterways with no one around and then out onto the Grand Canal.

We went to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum to view her collection of modern art. I liked the Miro and the Ernst, but you can have most of the rest. She is buried along with her heaps of small dogs in the garden. I like the modern art statuary. William especially liked this one "The Angel of the City".

Up inside the San Marco Cathedral is the Museum.

The original Bronze horses, cast by lost wax technique around 175 BC, still retain some of their original gilt, but their ruby eyes are long gone.
See William reading about them.

Outside on the balcony you can see from the Grand Canal

To the two moors who strike the hours on the top of the Bell Tower.

William strikes a pose.

The Bronze horses outside are replicas cast in Milan in 1978. The originals were moved indoors to protect them from pollution.

We shared a lunch cafe with gondoliers.

We spent two hours dawdling over a light dinner and watching the parade of people go by.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gearing up for Carnival

Today we toured the Palacia of the Doge (Duke) and the Church of St Mark

Pics taken outside the Palacia
a statue of Kings taken in one of the numerous raids into Constantinople

Me against a column that tells of life and death

The sun catches a outside section of the church that shows off some of the jillion gold and colored tiles that also cover the interior domes.

Legend has it that St Mark wanted to be interred in Venezia. He had been martyred in Constantinople. Two Venetian merchants rescued the body (bones) and brought it to Venice. The interior of the church is very Byzantine. Flat icons of gold, enamel and jewels and the wonderful tiled ceiling pictures.

Getting in the mood for Carnival that begins Saturday.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Today in Venice

In St Mark's SquareThere are only about 60 thousand people who live in Venice now. For each resident there are two pigeons and four rats.
Not much business today for the gondoliers. Carnival does not start until the 26th.
The island and houses have sunk over time. You can see the shadow of stairs here.
On the vaporetto (water bus).

Carnival for Babies

In the Piazza outside our window here in Mestre you can see Carnival for Babies. Children ~2-6 are dressed up in costumes. They run around and throw confetti on each other, bat balloons around, throw streamers and yell. It is Carnival for Babies.

Pacing Through Padova(Padua)

Here we are in Italy and one of the first things we notice is that there is a lot of confetti and streamers on the street and in the squares--a left over from New Years? But no--we notice that the streamers are gone then reappear the next day. We think there is just a party every night after we have gone to bed.
Trying hard to save this tower with iron braces. It is the Bulging Tower.
There are lots of pigeons in Padova. Even a statue. Italians are not pigeon electrocuters like the Germans. Of course I wear a hat all the time. Rick Steves says that if a pigeon bombsd you you have to wait and let it dry then it will flake off otherwise it will just smear into your hair. I prefer to think about flaking it off of a hat. You can hear loud cooing in all the arches.
Rick says that you need to reserve a viewing of the Scrovegni Chapel frescoes a day or two in advance. But since this is the off season we were scheduled in half an hour. The 40 frescoes by Giotto with scenes from the life of Mary and Jesus are amazing for their realism for 1303. There are tears dripping out of the eyes of the mothers during the slaughter of the innocents. The chapel and the frescoes were commissioned as atonement's for the crime of usury by Scrovegni and his father.
The Slaughter of the Innocents
The arches are over most sidewalks, keeping it dark and cold. But you don't need an umbrella.
The River runs through the town and you can see the Astronomical Observatory. It was closed so we don't know if it was the one used by Galileo and Copernicus who studied and taught here at the University of Padua which was founded in 1222.
As we walk we see the new built from the old everywhere.
We have seen about 3 sun clocks. One in Munich and two here in Padua.
A great draw in town is the Church dedicated to Saint Anthony. Pilgrims flock here for intercession and miracles. We went on the whole tour and were quite impressed with the beauty of the church and the devotion to the saint.
The Garden

The Church

Friday, January 18, 2008

Munching in Munich

Last night for dinner we went out to the Augustiner Bier Garten for dinner. We had hearty German food and beer. I had never had a potato dumpling before—interesting, and the beer is served in 2 sizes ½ liter and liter. I felt a bit hung over this AM after 2 (small) beers.

We are in the Regent Hotel near the train station. Very nice with a more than generous breakfast included—all for the same price as each day in Amsterdam?? I guess Munich does not have the cachet of Amsterdam—but I think it is a great city.

You can certainly tell that Munich is a bigger city than Bruges. The ice rink is quite a bit classier with a double deck structure. In the picture you see only about half of the front. The ice is groomed daily and they have special white plastic bears on skis that you can skate around with if you are a beginner—child and adult sized.

We visited the Burgersaalkirche where Father Rupert Mayer preached against Hitler. He was arrested in 1938 and sent to a camp (not a death camp). He was liberated in 1945 by the US Army, but died soon after. He has been put on the list for sainthood and the Pope visited here in 1987 to honor him.

This wild boar is in front of the Hunting and Fishing Museum. It reminded me of the two wild pigs Wm shot 40 years ago when he was an intrepid hunter.

We are back in the land of fancy Catholic Churches. Lots of art and buried kings of Bavaria. In this church we saw the devil’s footprint. A footprint sized mark opened up in the stone at a spot where you could not see any windows. The devil laughed and stamped his foot at the thought of people who would build a church without windows. He then moved and saw that there were windows so in his anger he caused the wind to always blow strongly around the tower.
This is in the Liebfrauen Cathedral with Wm in the Devil's Footprint.

Also here I saw a number of statues of St Nicholas carrying 3 oranges on top of his bible. I did not know that this was the way he was often portrayed or why. The statue in the Dutch Reformed Church in Amsterdam had a mandarin orange on the bible St Nicholas was holding and I took it off and placed it on a ledge as I thought someone had been disrespectful in placing it there. Live and learn. We also saw a number of portrayals of St George that just showed him slaying the dragon and did not include his horrible martyrdom as the pictures in the Groningen Museum in Bruges showed.

Back outside we noticed that there were few pigeons. The buildings have a lot of anti pigeon netting and electric wire around the tops. The Germans really mean business when they want to deter pigeons.

Next was the carillon at 11AM. There are large moveable figures in the clock that rotate for about ten minutes while the bell player played some simple German folk tunes. I think the bell player must have been the apprentice substitute as the tunes were slightly off.

Here we are at the top of the carillon tower of the Rathaus (Town Hall).

We looked over to the Viktualienmarket (a huge permanent food market).
And then went on to Old St Peters Church which had 2 reliquaries with full skeletons in them. The first was of St Honoratus. He was dug up out of the Roman Catacombs and brought here in 1578.
The second was the holy Munditia who was brought here out of the catacombs in 1675.
William taking a picture of this fabulous church of gold.
Me getting my wish and eating a pickled herring and raw onion sandwich and liking it. I think it is my German heritage. Jacob Schneider, my great grandfather, immigrated to the US from around here in the late 1800’s.

Little Red Riding Hood and the WOLF!
William in front of the Greek Orthodox Church. Inside at the side of a tower they are renovating there was a brass plaque with a recording of a prayer that the tower would not fall down before they could renovate it.
Must finish up. We are here in an internet cafe after a lovely Persian dinner and the clock is counting down.