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Tuesday, August 18, 2015


           The allure of Venice is its water.  With canals instead of streets there are no cars, the bane of every modern city. 
      That's where the magic begins. To get around you walk, boat or swim. While we didn't see anyone doing the breaststroke, there were thousands of us strolling or waiting for a water bus. You could also take a 

water taxi, kayak, or  gondola to ply the 170 winding canals that pass under 409 arching bridges to take you any of the 115 islands
Water taxi

that make up Venice.

 If you've never been there try to find a way. Maybe you can go there for the next Biennale di Venezia.

     The Venice Biennale may be the world's greatest art gathering, one week in May every other year, they celebrate music, dance, and the visual arts.  Half of the too-big-to-see show hangs around for another six months and 2015's is still going on.
      We discovered the Biennale in palazzos (palaces) throughout the city.  Francesca and I began our tour in the Palazzo Grimaldi on the Grand Canal.       The balcony view from the balcony at Palazzo Grimaldi 

   Sixty artists representing 29 countries exhibited sculptures and paintings focused on the theme, "The world is one".

TThese are photographs (taken from above) of  40-foot sculptures made out of salvaged machine parts.

Viewers were invited to take off their shoes and walk on this bed composed of 5000 ceramic skulls.

Wings made from the flip-flops of 400 Singapore prisoners

Walking past the Northern Lights

 Wheelchair made of razor blades

Just touring the palaces was as exhilarating as seeing the art.

Another show, another palazzo

We ended our Biennale adventure the next day by edging inside a dark warehouse on the wharf.   We learned a Russian movie, "Inverso Mundus" ("World Upside Down"), was being shown. It was not a very long (25 minutes) but certainly wide.  The 9-foot high screen stretched 110 feet. 
     We took seats on an endless bench.  The experience was like watching TV on a screen 24-inches high and 22-feet wide.   I watched this incredible, surreal film with my neck turning constantly, like checking traffic before crossing a busy street. 
   Want to see a two-minute sample?

You may want to turn your head when the knife-wielding pig goes after the butcher.



Afterwards, we took a gondola across the Grand Canal. It costs $4 but for $114 more, we could have gone on our own hour-long sunset cruise (opera singers are extra).  Gondola tours aren't cheap but few things are in the popular island city.
   Francesca got a great deal on  beautiful handkerchiefs!

We enjoyed delicious meals, a concert, and an evening mass in St. Marks Cathedral. Rising water has caused much of the historic church's floor to buckle. Long pews have been replaced by director's chairs.  Some tilt so much you can't really sit in them.

We went home to pack and reluctantly close the curtains on our windows with canal views.

     It's not easy to leave as 
1) There is so much to love in Venice and,
2) You can't just catch a cab.
    We dragged our bags past canals and over   bridges until
we reached a large island on the edge of the town. There were the cars, trucks, and buses we had not missed for three days.  The magic began to subside.
    A red bus took us across the causeway to  Leonardo da Vinci airport.  A Boeing 737 awaited to take us to Paris. A water taxi would have been more fun.

                                   First and last photos by the ultra talented Francesca Violich


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