Friday, 10 August 2012

Venice, Italy May, 2008

courtesy of Lonely Planet


One of the best districts of the lagoon city of Venice is Dorsoduro.  This is a cultural and academic mecca between the Giudecca and Grand Canals with so much to see and do.  The Guggenheim Museum and the Gallerie dell'Accademia are well known stops for all the obvious reasons.  Lovers of fine art will find marvels here - from the Italian Renaissance right up to contemporary artists like Joan Miro.  What's off the beaten path, however, is more exciting in many ways because you're never quite sure what's around the corner or over the tiny bridge.  Our day's surprise occurred around one of those corners during a walk in our favorite neighbourhood - a mask shop.  Now, you say, "What, a mask shop in Venice?! That's original."  But wait, this mask shop belongs to the artist who designed the masks for Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut.  I have mixed feelings about the film but see it if for no other reason than to see the masks.  They're great.  We now own 3 pieces from his store - only one is a replica from the film.  Each one is hand-made and there are even functional masks for actors of the commedia dell'arte, made of leather complete with with a proper buckle and strap.

Ca'Macana Mask Shop

Jewish Ghetto

We walked from Dorsoduro around the island of Venice to the Jewish Ghetto.  This community was the first of its kind in Europe, built in 1516.  Rather a black mark on Venetian history, the residents were locked in nightly by large iron gates, keeping them imprisoned for the length of the curfew.  Today, the gates are gone and this little neighbourhood is rather quiet, with multi-storied homes standing side by side.  The main square also contains a couple of small but inspired galleries.  There are still the remains of the original wall here, reminding visitors of what took place, but the more unsettling aspect is the placement of a statue of the Madonna and Child at one corner.

The Jewish Quarter
In Dorsoduro looking north


An outing in Dorsoduro brought us to a small eatery for a few cicchetti and a glass of wine.  Cicchetti is the Italian version of Spanish tapas.  The plates are presented within a glass case and you can choose from a variety of these snacks - from baccala (salt cod) to olives to prosciutto.  Another true sign of European service, I mentioned a glass of wine - well, I meant it.  Along with our paper plates, we were handed glass wine glasses even though we were headed out of the shop to eat.  They simply trust that you will return it instead of collecting a set of 12 for your dining room.  Hmm...not in my world.  What a restful way to have a nibble.  We took our bites and wine across the nearby bridge to find our place in the grass along the Rio San Trovaso.  As we ate, we watched the goings on at the business next door - a gondola repair shop right at the water's edge.  Only in Venice!

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