Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Venice is Part City, but Mostly Tourism

Venice is the most beautiful, bizarre city I've ever been. The decor in our hotel is opulent and regal, I feel like a princess here with my Venetian glass chandelier and my gold sheets. And our hotel is right on a canal, so I can hear the gondolas pass me (when they have singers or accordion players in them). It's a beautiful, romantic city with picturesque scene after scene of canals and alleyways and gondoliers and whatnot.

Saint Marks' Square, and gondolas docked for the season

Ahh, bridges.

But literally, every romanticized picture you've seen of Venice is true. Except add about a million more tourists into the mix. The gondoliers wear hats and striped sweaters, there are stalls EVERYWHERE (run by Indian men, funnily enough) selling scarves and glass products and masks and fans and silly aprons and other tacky tourist knick knacks, and there are enough tourists around to eat all of it up. I'm pretty sure the main economy in Venice now is just tourism. It's kind of sad to me, I don't know if I actually saw a true Venetian my entire time here.

I did see cat graffiti and an art exhibit though


There's a zone that the tourists stick to as well. The cruise ships all dock and let everyone off in basically the same area, so from there to the Ponte Rialto (and a radius around there) is FULL of people. But if you walk past that drop off area, it is so dead. Very few people walk that way, which is great for me because that's where the park is and other pretty places and they weren't ruined by hoards of people.


This is the residential neighborhood I found myself hitting dead ends in

Tourism is interesting. And I love watching tourists, because they are such sheep (especially the guided tour groups). They see what the guidebook or their group leader tells them to see, and they don't move their eyes out from behind their camera screen. I wouldn't be surprised if they saw the entire city through the viewfinder of a camera, which is really a shame. I've made sure to keep my eyes on what's around me, and sketch more, instead of taking photo after photo. I cherish my time here more that way, and I think it makes it more special if I DON'T document it out the wazoo.



Our professors only had one appointment for us during the two days we were in Venice, so I spent most of my time here walking around by myself and getting lost. It has been very fun, picking side streets and crossing bridges over canals and people watching. I'll meet up with people for lunches and dinners, but mostly I've just been letting my feet and eyes take me where they want to go. Also, I've been feeling kind of moody lately, so some alone time has been wonderful.

Our appointment was on Tuesday morning at the Fondacione Querini Stampalia, a museum done by Mario Botta and Carlo Scarpa. We were only interested in the Scarpa portion, though. We visited the courtyard and a hallway, which were both done by Scarpa. There was a brilliant staircase down into the water- the wall had two arches with gates in them that let the water in from the canal, and it washed over the last two steps of the stairs. As the tide rose and fell, it affected how far down the steps you could go. It was so cool to see water puncture a building like that.

The same tile pattern is on the floor was was on the wall at Castel Vecchio! Guess Scarpa didn't use his imagination

This basin is what you have to step into to get to the museum. Scarpa lies to use containers that are meant to hold water, to not hold water. Like people, for example

On the left is Mario Botta's addition and how it addresses the water in the canal, and on the right is Scarpa's. Botta's feels like a container, whereas Scarpa's feels like a continuing space. You can inhabit the water and get close to it, instead of being held away from it

The garden was very beautiful as well. Scarpa uses the sound of water to create a sense of tranquility, and clean lines to emphasize that. He is a brilliant architect. I'm definitely going to go home and read up on him, I will probably end up using this building in Venice in my research paper.

This little water feature was brilliant. There is so much detail put into such a small part of the garden, but it is beautiful in its expression

Over the past two days, I have seen: many many tourists, tacky gondoliers and proud gondoliers, enough redheaded British children to make me happy forever, a bar whose entire color scheme was orange, pigeons that fly up and sit on your arms if you hold them out, the residential part of Venice, a very nice park, a bridge with shops built into it (RIDICULOUS), piazzas and piazzas and piazzas, and lots of tiny alleyways.

Jen, Amanda, and I went on girl dates the past two nights, having pasta and wine and great conversation. And tonight, a big group of us went to listen to the San Marco Chamber Orchestra perform Vivaldi's Four Seasons, plus two other pieces. It was brilliant! I really enjoyed it, and the violinists who soloed were absolutely incredible. The finger dexterity they have is something I will never have or understand. It's great.

Venice is a beautiful, sad story in my opinion. It has a rich history and past, but has been so overrun by people flocking to see "Venice" that the city has transformed into a mega tourist haven that has lost its identity. But I will be sad to leave the bridges and canals behind me. Those were wonderful :)


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  2. Venice is such a strange city to me. Seems like it should have washed away or something long ago! But I'm glad you managed to enjoy your time there in spite of the tourists :)

  3. I am glad you had time to write this review and tell us about you pleasant experiences in Venice.