Follow by Email

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of orphan girl choirs, Vivaldi, Venice related literature, and Peggy Guggenheim.

Friday, on our way home. We are now in transition, at the airport in Zurich after a 50 minute flight from Venice. On our way in, we took the the bus and then the waterbus. This time, we took a waterbus the entire way, about a 45 minute ride from the stop near our apartment. The waterbus came right into the airport. Despite our nine days in Venice, taking a boat directly to the airport still seemed strange. There we were on the water, with planes landing directly over us.
We had a pleasant last morning at our place, which we needed to vacate at 11am. No need to go anywhere, the apt. was as charming as anywhere else, especially sitting on the balcony. Well, maybe not quite as beautiful as some vistas on the Grand Canal, but beautiful enough. I was reading, on the Kindle, my last electronic present from Loring before this, the delightfully portable netbook I am writing on now. Loring was reading a book on his Kindle, about a guy taking a drive across China, and intermittently reading excerpts from it. Clearly not on the same theme based literature binge as I am. He was also enjoying observing the woman across the canal from us, who apparently kept poking her head out the window every time she heard a boat. Finally a man came by, parked and tied up his boat under her window, let himself in with a key. Boyfriend, Loring concluded.
I have read, or read parts of, four different books with Venice themes since we have been here. The first was a decective novel based in Venice, written by an American woman who has lived in Venice for a long time. This was the first in a series, written about 20 years ago, that now comprises about 20 books with the same character, an amiable Detective Brunetti. For some reason, th e first in the series was not available via Kindle, so I bought a 20 year old paper copy. I have another in the series on the Kindle, and liked the first enough to read another at some point.
Venice themed book #2, which I am still not finished with, and have gone back to now, takes place in the 18th century and involves young women who are orphans that sing in one of the girls choirs that really existed at the time. Vivaldi is a character in the story, and it is partially based on truth. I had tried to find the church/ orphanage at which it takes place in my guidebook, but although many churches are listed there, this wasn’t. Finally, just a couple of days ago, Loring was looking at the schedule at a vaparetto stop, and I wondered over to look at the nearby church, and there, to my delight, was “my” church, the Santa Maria della Pieta! Complete with placque on the side to indicate that Vivaldi had worked with one of the orphan girl choirs there. We wandered all around the building, but couldn’t find a way in. I read later, online, that there are concerts there at times, and a requirement is that at least one piece played must be by Vivaldi. Part of the building is now a preschool, we could hear children’s voices, and that seemed very appropriate.
I only stopped reading that book part way because I wanted to check out the other Venice related books I’d brought. Next was a romantic novel taking place in two time periods, the present and the 1500’s. The theme was an Italian-American woman searching for her roots in Murano, becoming a glass blower and finding a handsome Italian man ,and getting pregnant. It was embarrassingly overwritten, but I was having fun reading particularly good/bad parts out loud to Loring. Interestingly, a small part of the story also involved the orphan girl choir at the church of la Pieta. I did finish it, and we visited Murano while I was in the middle.

But, before finishing the glassblower book, I also started #4, which is called Venice Stories. It is a series of stories focusing on individual characters in present day Venice. According to the review I read, the stories come together, but that hasn’t happened yet. Now I am back to finishing book two, the Vivaldi orphan choir book, which I may finish before we get home.
So, now having summed up my reading material, let me get back to describing more of our adventures.
Yesterday morning, we began with walking to Piazza St. Marco, and going to visit the quite impressive Basilica. It is free to go in, but once you do get inside, there are charges, ranging from 2 to 4 euros each, for various of the areas. We skipped some and visited others, including the small museum, which also lets you out on the balustrade from where you have an impressive view over the plaza. Most beautiful are the incredible stone mosaic floors, and then all the guilded mosaics on the ceiling. You can get quite close to parts of the ceiling when you go upstairs. They truly are magnificent, overwhelming really. Like lots in Venice, well worth braving the crowds to see.
After more walking around the city, we went to the Guggenheim museum yesterday afternoon. This was Peggy Guggenheim’s home until she died in, I think, 1979. She had been collecting an eclectic variety of modern art while she lived there, and opened the museum, in the garden I believe, while she still lived there. Her ashes are buried in the garden, along with those of many of her dogs.

I will continue this at some later point, probably at home, as it's time to board our flight back to Boston. Good thing I am not superstitious, or at least, not about this. Today is Friday the 13th!

1 comment:

past focus said...

nice account of a well-documented trip,you are a seasoned traveller- thanks for the excellent anecdotes