Sunday, May 22, 2005

Venice/Venezia (part 2 of 4)…

While Venice is a city that’s pretty much on death’s door and which has become a real tourist trap, it’s still something to see. With regard to the city itself, I will make the following guarantee – without a doubt, you will get utterly lost at least once. It is a very confusing city to walk through. But don’t give up hope – you’ll find your way back eventually.

One place you will obviously want to go to is St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), which is probably the most well known locale in Venice (you’ve seen it in tons of movies before). You should definitely go into St. Mark’s Basilica, which is a cool church with some really neat things going on inside (I recall some amazing frescoes there). I don’t think I made it up the bell tower in either of my two trips to Venice, but that would probably be a nifty thing to do as you are supposed to have a great view of Venice from up at the top (random trivia – this tower was rebuilt in 1912 after the original fell in 1902).

Doge’s Palace is also in St. Mark’s Square. I don’t think I’ve taken a tour of the inside, but that would probably be worth doing (although, according to the upcoming link, the tours are in Italian, which may explain why I haven’t taken one). And around the corner from the palace is the Bridge of Sighs.

My final comment on Piazza San Marco is that if you like Dali (whom I love), there used to be a fantastic Dali exhibit in the square that is worth seeing.

However, even if that exhibit is not still there, you can see some Dali and lots of great other stuff at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is my all-time favorite museum anywhere. I can’t recommend this place enough, particularly if you dig surrealism and other types of art from the first half of the 20th Century. The museum is a small place, so it won’t eat up a ton of time to walk through. While there, make sure you head out onto the balcony that overlooks the Grand Canal and check out the little guy waiting for you. And by the by, the museum’s website says it is not generally open on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly.

There are plenty of things for you to find and look at in Venice, but my last recommendation is that you hit the Chiesa dei Frari. This is a little church with some really cool stuff to look at, the highlight of which is the amazing Bellini triptych Madonna and the Saints, which has an absolutely incredible three-dimensional depth to it. The pyramid-shaped tomb of Canova and the nearby tomb of Titian are also hella’ cool.

My final comment on Venice is about the food. For meals, I highly recommend heading off of the beaten path. There are a ton of over-visited and over-priced restaurants close to the Grand Canal, and these are mainly touristy places. If you head away from the Grand Canal and into the city itself a little more, you can stumble upon lots of local out-of-the-way places, which tend to be both cheaper and better.


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