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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Venice, Part II

Santa Maria Assunta exterior -- no photography allowed inside, alas

Monday was a rainy, chilly day. We got up early to take the scenic route to the island of Torcello, stopping through Burano and Murano (glass and lace-making sites) before arriving, cold and hungry, in Torcello. We stopped at Villa 600 for lunch before moving on to our tour of the Santa Maria Assunta Basilico.

The basilico is an ancient one dating from the 600's with exquisite 11th and 12th-century Byzantine mosaics. Torcello, once a salt marsh, was one of the first areas settled by the Veneti fleeing the Barbarians. I especially liked the last judgment mosaic, with the worms crawling out of the skulls, bodies in flames, the elongated blue devil, and robes that looked almost Aztec. In another area, Madonna beams down like a goddess against gleaming gold tile from a dome above. Its as if the artist and especially the rulers who funded the work were trying to out-do God himself.

Curious relief sculpture outside the cathedral

Someone noted that it was this sort of extraordinary tile work that made the later Venetians such great painters. Meanwhile, Jasper followed a calico cat around the cathedral.

The following day I woke up with a terrible stomach ache. I should have stayed in bed, but how often does one get a private tour of the Venice Guggenheim? I soldiered on with our group, though I'm not sure I got much out of the tour since my head was usually between my knees. At least I got to appreciate the amazing view from the rooftop. And since the museum was closed that day I had the immaculately clean bathroom practically to myself. It smelled wonderful, which helped immensely. It had the same scent I smelled years ago at the Prado -- I wonder what that is? Maybe some sort of marble cleaner? I don't know, but if I ever find it I'm buying it in bulk so I can live in it.

Our family favorite at the Guggenheim, a Dan Graham sculpture

Following lunch (another bathroom, another opportunity to vomit) we went to the Palazzo Grassi, which was recently acquired and renovated by Francois Pinault. The museum itself is gorgeous, with beautifully restored guilt and painted ceilings. It showcases a collection of mostly contemporary art. The David Hammonds looks great, but I'm afraid other work suffers in comparison once you look up at the splendor above. Renaissance painting -- I ask you, how does anyone dare to bother painting after that?

Jeff Koons puppy outside the Palazzo Grassi

Back in New York we are still adjusting to Eastern Standard Time. Last night Jasper went to sleep at 4:00 in the afternoon and woke up around 5:30 a.m. Today he resisted napping and kept going at full speed until about 7:30, when he announced that he was sleepy and then passed out on the floor -- something he's never done before. Maybe we'll get to sleep in until 6:30 tomorrow! Meanwhile, I'm about ready to do like Jasper and pass out on the floor myself.

7 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

So enjoying the tales of your travels! Well, except for the vomiting and hives--that can throw off a perfectly lovely holiday.

At least you had some privacy. I threw up on the Pearl Harbor cruise while my brother laughed at me and Japanese tourists snapped pictures.

Can't wait to read the food posts...

Anonymous said...

I'm loving it, too.

Swizzies said...

"...beautifully restored guilt" - does that come from the beautifully restored gospel? Heh. Dumb, I know - I couldn't resist, b/c beautifully preserved guilt makes me laugh like a dork.

I hope you're also eventually going to cover such highlights as astonishingly awesome clearance racks. Heaven...

We miss you.

Adriana Velez said...

GILT -- now that's just embarassing. I'll blame it on the jet lag. Yes, I will most definitely cover our retail therapy session. Miss you, too!

Mary Ellen, that story is just plain painful.

janeannechovy said...

I'm so glad you're back and posting! And seeing all your pictures makes me certain that my next trip to Europe should be in the dead of winter. Fab.

Janet M. Kincaid said...

Adrian: Loved the SnapFish picture album the other day, but having details to go with the pictures is ever so much better. I'm not a big fan of winter, but I'm huge fan of Europe in winter for two reasons: fewer tourists and Christkindl Markt! Can't wait to hear about your Christmas shopping in Switzerland!

P.S. I thought the same thing Di did about the guilt! That was heavenly!

Anonymous said...

OH, I'm so sorry you were ill! What a trooper you are.