09/27/13

Rocking the Campanile,San Giorgio Maggiore Island,Venice

Top of the Campanile, San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Venice

At the top of the Campanile, San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Venice, you will find fresh air, fabulous views and a peaceful retreat from the sweaty throngs of the mainland below.

The tiny island of San Giorgio is just a short hop on the vaporetto (water bus) from San Marco. In the 10th century the marshy land was drained and the island given over to a Benedictine monastery which became one of the most wealthy and influential monasteries in the world until it was flattened by an earthquake in 1223.

No matter. After a quick rebuild, it was business as usual until the Republic of Venice was dissolved and the monks were kicked out.  It became a free port and the city’s artillery was later stored there. Now the monastery is back, together with an arts centre, open air theatre and a perpetual dribble of Venice-fatigued tourists in search of respite. Continue reading

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09/27/13

Tried & Convicted.Bridge of Sighs, Venice.

The Bridge of Sighs links the Doge’s Palace and prison.  Hapless convicts were bundled straight from the court, across the bridge, to the prison which is why the limestone palace on the right gleams prettily in the sunlight while the prison on the left of the canal looks, well, like a prison, I suppose.

The Bridge of Sighs is carved from limestone, was built in 1602 and links the two buildings high above the water. No getting out of that one then.

gondolier and bridge of sighs, venice

This gondolier seems quite unconcerned by the contrast between the gleaming palace on the right and the grotty prison on the left.

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09/12/13

Island Hopping in Venice – Torcello.

‘Torcello’ means ‘tower and sky’ but I thought it sounded like something you could eat or drink that was both sweet and delicious, possibly alcoholic. Bearing this in mind, and as it’s only a short hop on the vaporetto (water bus)  from Burano, it would have been just plain rude not to visit.

canal on torcello island, venice, italy

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09/3/13

Murano Island, Venice – Coloured Houses, Glass blowing and Chafing Thighs.

Murano island looks like a bubble coming out of fish-shaped Venice. Glass makers were kicked out of the city and sent to Murano at the end of the 13th Century so that should their enthusiastic huffing and puffing get out of hand, any resulting fires would be contained far more easily than in the maze of buildings on the mainland.

Murano Island, Venice Italy

First sight of Murano Island from the vaporetto

Like many people with a background in ceramics, I’m bonkers about glass and wanted to watch it being made. Actually what I really wanted was to have a go myself but there was fat chance of that but a stroll round a peaceful island was a very appealing thought after hot, tourist-riddled Venice.

At the vaporetto stop, a very beautiful and very exasperated attendant was dealing with a gaggle of confused tourists trying to get to Lido. Using one hand to rope the vaporetto to the pontoon and the other to flick her hair back in the way that makes an Italian woman look like a film star and a other woman of any other nationality look pretentious, she bawled: ‘No! No Lido!  Murano!  Moo.Rah.No.’  The crowd shuffled off, muttering into their maps, leaving the way clear for me to grab a window seat in the coolest part of the boat (which wasn’t very). Continue reading

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06/19/12

Foraging in the Fish Market, Catania, Sicily – Italy.

I had a fun rummage round the fish displays in the morning fish market in Catania, Sicily.  The wares ranged from beautiful to creepy to ‘orrible.

The creatures aren’t labelled because I don’t know what most of them are. Apart from the humans. And they don’t need labelling because it’s obvious which they are – they’re the ones with legs who aren’t dead.

shellfish catania fish market sicilysilver fish, catania fish market, sicily, italy Continue reading

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