Africa 2017

Africa 2017

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What is beyond these doors?

I may have gone crazy with all the unique door knockers but windows and doors beckoned me to pause and look and I did......

This ironwork with the curly scrolls and diamond shape centers caught my eye. 

So many doors leading out to the water from old buildings..... decaying, rotting, yet a gentle lapping of water softens the silent demise of an entry long since used.

E. liked the Moorish style windows (which are called Venetian Gothic) and since there are many in Venice, I began to tell her "there's your windows E.!" every time we passed them.  These windows were at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti which sits next to the Grand Canal in a palace by name of Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti built in 1565 but many improvements have been done since then.

Just before we crossed the Accademia Bridge opposite the Instituto was a quaint home with this scrolled gate with the initial "M" on it.  I of course thought of my youngest daughter M.

Walking by a pair of doors I spied a him and a her...or that is what I thought.  Delicate garlands across their chest / breasts and a blissful look upon their faces.

You can tell which one is handled the most....

I fell in love with this balcony with the aged patina of the shuttered doors and the curvaceous iron work.  Who is behind those doors do you suppose?  

The Venetian Gothic upper windows and the lower doors of massive size...contrasting or opposing...which is it?  Another pair of doors that fall below the water line of the canal and above those doors two faces different from each other.

This balcony of a filigree marble design and the leaded glass panes above the shuttered door reminded me of a Romeo and Juliet balcony.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Canals, Brioche, O Sole Mio! you are a feast to the eyes!  My head would go left, right, up and down and yet there was so much depth to what we saw.  Then for us, everything about Venice was new.  Maybe if you visited here often or lived here you wouldn't pay as much attention to the little things we noticed and wondered about.

Windows with shutters and lace that hid what was behind them.  Was someone peeking out at us?  And look at that lace in the window on the right...isn't is lovely?  We saw many lace curtains that were like that.

Doors of richly carved wood.  Look at this one.  The Moorish style top to it with a plaque that had a figure at the top holding what looked like an orb in one had and the other hand up giving a sign.  Below left and right are two medieval soldiers with swords in their hands yet their heads are sideways on their shoulders as though they were decapitated.  I can only guess that they wronged the church in some way and paid the price.  Since this does appear to be religious it could be Christ holding the "earth" and giving a "blessing" but I don't know why he would be blessing the two men who have lost their heads.

A tranquil view crossing a bridge.  We crossed many and I never felt like I was seeing the same thing twice.  I wondered how the boats wove in and out the narrow canal without hitting each other or maybe they did give a gentle nudge and no one was bothered by the bump.  Look at the level of the Venice gets some higher than normal high tides which means that water will spill into those doors that you can see.  I'm hoping that whatever room the overflow spills into does not ruin the floors.

Finally we think we should get something to eat.  All our sightseeing had made us hungry and what should appear but this visual feast of treats.  We saw pastries, candy and aha....they make sandwiches too!  We walked in and headed straight for the counter where a line up of sandwiches already made were there for us to choose from.

All the bread they used for the sandwiches were Brioche and we each picked a different one.  Mine was Brioche with speck.....

And E. chose Brioche with cured beef.....each one cost 3 euro.

We took them out and went to find a place where we could sit down and enjoy them.  We found this perfect piazza to have our lunch where we leaned against the wall of this church, took a rest and watched the people at the nearby restaurants as well as the coming and goings from the doors on the piazza.

I leave this post with one last photo of another the head on this one.

And a short video of a song you heard all the time in Venice...I am sure that the Venetians would prefer a different song but this singer was excellent!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I have a thing for Knockers....yes I do.  I can't help it but for the two times I have been to Italy I have been fascinated by the abundance of unique door knockers.  Venice did not disappoint me.

These two gentlemen were side by side on a pair of doors.  I wish I knew more about them.  Were they modeled after the owners of the building?  I just loved their expressions!

This one reminded me of the bow of a ship.  Look at the details below the head.

I should have taken a photo of the door as well as the knocker with this one.  Now some of these ornaments didn't seem to be knockers but I don't know what they should be called or why they would have them on a door accept as adornment.  Perhaps if you were trying to find someones home they could say "Oh look for the head that looks like Shakespeare on my door with a Trumpet flower carved in wood above him".  

Lions are popular and many look alike so I tried to find lions that were different.  This lion doesn't look too fierce, in fact he looks a little scared or maybe surprised!  He does have huge fangs holding the ring in place.

This one was larger than most that we saw.  The gentleman looks like a nobleman with two sweet cherubs (does a cherub have to have wings?) supporting him.  The lower weighted pull is also elaborately detailed.

One more lion.  I liked his mane that waved around his face and the details of his whiskers.

All these were from our first full day and E. was as patient as could be with my stopping at random whenever I saw a knocker that called to me to take a photo.   

Monday, April 2, 2012

Visual Memories....

 Those horses..... the authentic Roman horses that proudly stand inside protected from the air and birds.  It seems sad that they can't be out overlooking the Piazza where they did once stand.  Here they stand in a dark corner with lights shining down on them for the tourist to view. 

This is another view looking from above down into the sanctuary and it is an incredible view. 

We could stand close to the mosaics and admire their detail and wonder at how long it might have taken to do all the walls.  In comparison to the Duomo in Florence this church is considerably small and intimate.  I wish I could hear a choir sing in here.  Back in 2001 we visited the church Sant'Agosino in San Gimignano where I listened to a traveling youth choir from Ipswich which is north east of London, sing.  It was a memorable evening for me to sit in that very old church and hear it filled with music.  I thought what a wonderful experience these young people were having going from one town to another and singing in places of such history. 

Back to the more view up close.

We walked out into the bright sunshine and took off without a plan or a direction.  It was liberating to do this!  

Little bridges we crossed and a scene of charm would be there.  Balconies of rod iron railing, some with flowers some empty and forgotten.  A gondola slowly making it's way down a narrow and empty canal.  The hush.....

 Another crossing of a bridge and two empty gondolas sit.  E. and I looked down studying how different their interiors were.  Which one did we like the best?  A third sat back behind, all awaiting their gondolier who in turn will await for customers.

Sometimes we would be walking and off to our right another narrow calle would go off somewhere.  So of course we had to take that path and sometimes it would lead to an opening such as this.  A tranquil spot right to the briny water.  I suppose this would be a spot a boat would let someone off at or pick someone up. 

Once you leave the tourist zone there is an immediate silence of sound.  Amazing that most people who visit here never venture far.  We may not have gone to see all the main historical sites but we were richer for taking the quiet scenic byway.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Those Horses

It's bad enough that I haven't had time to write more but to just lose my whole post did not make me happy. I go again and hopefully that won't happen.

E. and I went on an additional tour upstairs and what a grand view from above the Piazza San Marco in both directions.  What grabbed me though was those horses.  Those incredibly beautiful horses that are huge!  I just wanted to climb up on one and sit astride as I looked out. 

E. took this photo as I just couldn't capture them the way I wanted to. 

E.'s photo

So what is the story of the horses?  First of all the ones outdoors are not the originals.  Those are inside which we saw as well.  They were plunder taken after the Fourth Crusade from Constantinople upon the order from Venice's Doge, Enrico Dandolo.  He had lost an eye in a scuffle in Byzantium and was wanting some revenge.  I'll say he did.  What a prize he brought back to Venice!  Can you imagine the boat ride home with those horses?  Quite a ruckus wild time that must have been.  Apparently they had to cut the horses heads off for shipment and then restored them by adding the collars they wear now.  They were placed over the main doors to the Basilica proudly looking out.

Then Napoleon stole them in 1797 and brought them triumphantly back to Paris and placed on the Arch of Triumph in the Place du Carrousel.  It was said "Rome is no longer Rome, it is Paris!".  I guess the Pope at that time was none to pleased.  They were returned back to Venice in 1815 by the Austrians.  

Here is a view out towards the Doge's Palace.....

One with E.....

Then E.'s special effect photo of the Piazza San Marco.....

E.'s photo

A corner statute on the Doge's Palace that is haunting but beautiful....

Detail of the front of the much to appreciate...the glass the marble, the colors.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Venice by night......


Ready for a ride down the Grand Canal at night with some music by Dean Martin....sit back and enjoy...

Click on the Vimeo logo and watch it there.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bong, Bong, Bong!

Realizing that we should think about dinner we started looking for a place to eat.  We would walk up to the plentiful restaurants and read each menu.  What did we want to eat?  How much did this place charge?  Was it busy or empty?  

We sort of stumbled out a calle and found the Grand Canal in front of us and to our right the Rialto Bridge.  How did we wind up here?  We had no idea but it was a pleasant surprise.

We started walking up and down along the water checking out the restaurants there.  We thought it would be nice to eat along the water.  Then it was what side of the Canal should we eat on?  It didn't really matter as after reading two different menus of restaurants side by side, we ended up at Ristorante Omnibus.  We ordered a 1/2 liter of the house Vino (7  Euro),  E. ordered Lasagna (9 Euro) and I ordered a Pizza with Speck and Rocket greens (9 Euro) which to the US dollar was about $36.00 in total.  Both our entrees were terrific!  We sat and relaxed after the long day of travel, finding our hotel, our beginning sightseeing and what or where to go the next day.  

I love that in Europe that you are never hurried out of a restaurant.  You can linger all you wish.  When you are ready to leave you ask for the bill and even the process of paying is not in a hurry. 

Finding our way back to the hotel was no problem as we just followed any sign that said "San Marco".  We got back to our room after 10:00 and got ready for bed.  I opened the windows and the street noise below didn't seem too loud and decided to leave the windows open to the fresh air.  I felt with all the carrying of my bag up and down over the bridges and up the many stairs to our room that a Tylenol PM was in order.  This way I would also get a sound sleep in a new setting and be able to wake up fresh and well rested for our big day of touring.  Or so I thought.

I heard this Bong, bong, bong and woke with a start.  What was that?  I flopped back down on my pillow and fell to sleep.  The next time the sound seemed louder and I fully awoke.  Bells?  Oh good Lord bells!  Of course we were quite close to the bell on top of Torre dell'Orologio and that was what was ringing.  The midnight toll is what woke me this time.  I got up and sadly closed the windows.  It was quiet outside once the bell had done it's bonging.  Nonetheless I did want to sleep the rest of the night.  With the windows closed not a sound outside could be heard.

Morning came and I rose first, took my shower and then E. did the same.  We walked out into the mostly emptied calle and looked for our breakfast.  We looked in shop windows where an employee would be tiding up the store for the day ahead.  

We found a panifici in a quiet spot near a narrow canal with outside tables to sit at.  We ordered our first Venician cappuccino (E. at first wasn't going to get one but she did and that began her morning start of a cappuccino everyday), and picked out our breakfast treat that was so often referred to as brioche (it was not the brioche I was familiar with).  

E.'s photo ~ first morning in Venice ~ Breakfast

The foot traffic began to pick up.  It seemed like everyone was talking on a cell phone and it was really cute to hear Italian and no English.  Several dogs and their owners walked by, most common seemed to be French Bulldogs.  I wondered where in the world they would take them to go to the bathroom.  I hadn't seen any doggie poop anywhere.  

Out of that narrow canal a small skiff of a boat drew up and then two men with a cart came up to the boat and quickly unloaded supplies off the boat to the cart.  Strong, good looking Italian men, fit, not pudgy sloppy Americans.  Oh I know I am not in the USA!    The cart and men were gone within minutes.  

Our day begins and off we go.  First destination is to St. Mark's Basilica.  We wait in a line that moves along where we can look around at how beautiful this Piazza is.  It is not flooded with tourist and the weather is perfect.  Brilliant blue skies with not a cloud to be seen.

Doge's Palace ~ Porta della Carta

I look to the right of our line and see this gorgeous entry that is called the Porta della Carta.  It stands between the Basilica and the Doge's Palace.  This was the ceremonial entrance where permits were checked for entry into the Palace courtyard.  There is the winged lion that stands so majestically in front of the Doge Francisco Foscari.   

Inside the Basilica your eyes are drawn up to the gilded walls and ceiling that are all mosaics.  Where some churches feel cold because of the vast marble, I felt warmth inside here.  Rounded arches covered with saints, angels and other religious figures were surrounding us.

We walk in a horseshoe shape around the inside and marvel at the beauty of the mosaic tiled floors of different designs.

I am transfixed by the flickering candles, of how I may not understand the lighting of a candle with a prayer, I can be moved by the thoughts that went with their lighting.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Moments of Magic

I'm not sure what moved me most.  Looking out from the end of the Piazza San Marco near the Palazzo Ducale or seeing the look on my daughter's face as she viewed the grand scene on the water before us.  Gondola's were bouncing up and down from the wake water of the many boats going past us back and forth.  I looked at the Gondoliers in their snappy flat top, ribbon bedecked hats and striped shirts.  The ones near us seemed quite jaunty and relaxed.  Regardless of how touristy the idea of taking a gondola ride has become you can't help but want to see the canals and water by one.  

Across the water is the tiny island that has the church of San Giorgio Maggiore on it.  The light on the facade of the church casts lovely shadows this time of day.  From where we stand it looks like the water goes right to the front doors and I wonder if they too get flooded in a very high tide.  I would like to go visit here and explore what we can as well as take photos from there looking back towards Venice.  I hope we will be able to do this on our day that we buy our 24 hour Vaporetto passes.

Back to where we are.  E. looks out and a glimmering smile is on her face.  I know I should wish that my Love is here but to be here with E. is very special to my heart.  To have this special trip with her, to explore to our heart's content.  Let us say that in ones life if you have children, that once they leave the nest, time together becomes all that more precious.  Our children have a whole life away from us and often as parents we so miss the times together that they can't really understand.  At least that is how I feel.  Being with her right then was like the best Christmas and Birthday gift all wrapped up and each day is like reopening that gift.

I haven't been this happy in awhile.  So much has transpired in the last two years with the aging of our parents.  I let the sounds wash over me, fill my eyes with the view, and this is just day one. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Standing in the Piazza San Marco

After some unpacking, a much needed shower and some rest E. and I are ready to have our first evening out in Venice.

I am delighted with our location for our first time here.  I know that I would call our area "ground zero" for the crowds but as a starting point we are close to the Piazza San Marco, St. Mark's Basilica, the Campanile, the Torre dell'Orologio or St. Mark's Clocktower, as well as what we know we can't see because of renovation, the Bridge of Sighs (it just recently has been finished and can now be seen).   

Coming through the narrow calle out into the Piazza was euphoric!  We're here!  My first thought was "thank goodness it is not crowded"!  So often I have been told not go to Venice because of the crowds and yet here we were with hardly a crowd at all.

St. Mark's Basilica

St. Mark's Basilica is incredibly beautiful.  And indeed it does remind me of a lavish wedding cake as I had read on a blog Venice for Vistors.  At once it feels light and airy compared to the Duomo in Florence.   Gold shone brightly on the mosaics we could see on the outside as the sun began it's late afternoon descent.  Domes, spires, ornate crosses, statues and those magnificent bronze horses gazed out on the Piazza.  The original horses are safely kept inside in the Museum of San Marco (I'll be writing about this later).

Mosaic over one of the doors to the Basilica

The Piazza is large with buildings framing three sides opposite the Basilica.  To the right is the  Torre dell'Orologio whose clock face is of the Zodiac signs of gilded gold with a deep royal blue background.  Atop the building above the clock is what we can see from our room, the bronze bell with two figures who ring the bell on the hour.  E. points out the lion above the clock face who reminds her of Aslan from the book the Chronicles of Narnia.  What I know now is this is the traditional symbol of Venice that stood for Mark the Evangelist who is the patron saint of Venice.  We will see many of these lions in Venice in days to come.

Torre dell'Orologio

We walk farther into the Piazza and I notice the restaurants opposite each other and side by side, that my friend K. had said do the dueling pianos in the evening.  

One of several restaurants in the Piazza that will be doing dueling pianos concerts in the evening.

Rising from the Piazza stands the St. Mark's Campanile.  It is surrounded by fencing as they are doing renovation here.  It is still open to take an elevator to the top for views but we have decided we will not do that.  We will take our views from the Basilica.  

St. Mark's Campanile

I'm a bit awe struck here in the Piazza because it is almost too much eye candy to see.  Every building is either with gilded gold upon them, deep hued colors of the mosaics, statues, ornate columns, the dramatic fabric awnings over the restaurants arched openings, elaborate marble designs, the many languages of the tourist around us and of course the ever moving street vendors trying quite hard to get you to buy their cheap toys while on the look out for the Polizia to shoo them away.  

Another view of the Basilica

We soak it in and I am once feeling how much history lies on this island.  How little I will fully learn while here for our short time and how I wish we were staying longer.  I remember my brother by marriage asking how long we were staying in Venice and told him four full days.  He said we should stay at least a week, maybe two and I told him that we only had so much time to see the other places we wanted to go to.  We couldn't fly all the way to Italy and only go to Venice!  Yet I was beginning to see what he might have meant and we had only been here but mere hours.