Italy 2010: Venice, Italy

Posted on April 15, 2012 by admin No Comments

Venice Italy


  • Written by Pamela Lee
  • Images and Video by Gregory Dyer

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Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square) in Venice

all work copyright © 2010-2012 Gregory Dyer
do not use without permission
contact Gregory Dyer for use permission


 Venice Italy

JULY 15TH, 2010 – Friday

At 3pm and we were off to Venice


and soon we were entering over a large bridge to the islands and I felt like we were in San Diego.

We were dropped at the Vaporetta launch standing in some pretty high humidity.  Our group got on our first vaporetta heading the wrong direction;
we soon found the right boat and turned around.

It was a HOT, MUGGY day.  I took pictures the whole way to our hotel at the Academia stop.


We went right to Hotel Bella Arte and it looked very nice outside with overstuffed white couches in the courtyard.

Gregor and I had a room with wallpaper that reminded us of the haunted house at Disneyland in gold, black and red.  We laughed hard as we taped ourselves “there are no windows and no doors and a ghost will follow you home.”

They had us take a quick shower and we were off to St. Mark’s Square for dinner right next to the Bridge of Sighs,


the bridge that people walked over before they were executed.  The Bridge of Sighs had giant advertisements all around it and so did St. Mark’s square.  Sad to watch all of that old architecture covered up by cooperation’s.

Our dinner was nothing special and it was indoor a non air conditioned restaurant.  It was, however, in a pretty spot, looking out at the Grand Canal and it was free.

Gregor and I were off right after dinner to take some great night shots of Venice.  We ended up feeling like we were in the Pirates of the Caribbean as we wandered down dark streets that dead ended and dropped into canals suddenly.

We had a great time taking pictures of wonderful shop windows that made their products into art displays, even finding a strange window with crazy manikins with thong Nazi underwear on while holding a manikin baby and neon lights around toilet bowls with cities inside.

We melted into bed…there was close to 100 percent humidity, come on RAIN!

JULY 16TH, 2010 – Saturday

Up early for free breakfast…searching for anything that didn’t look like bread, cheese, or pastry.  We had a free breakfast in the hotel.

We were taken to St. Mark’s Square, built in AD 800, the place that Napoleon called “The drawing room of Europe.” With wall to wall people we found our tour guide, an older Italian man who walked us around explaining things to a group of very hot college students that had been out partying the night before.  He was a bit politically incorrect, but kind of funny.



He explained things like St Mark’s bell tower has a statue of men on both sides that hit the bell when it rings, however, only the right side works, kind of like in Italy, and the left side is lazy and probably in the union.  None of the students got his jokes, they were too young, I think.

He pointed out the two red pillars on the side of the Doges palace where they watch the executions.

The executions were held in between the two main pillars and people were hung there and left for quite awhile, reminding people to be good. The Pillars have Venice’s two main patrons on them; St. Mark’s winged lion and St Theodore with a dragon. It was legal to gamble between the columns when people weren’t being executed.

He also pointed out the oldest library in the world opposite the Doges Palace which was covered with a huge fashion AD.  St Mark’s campanile was rebuilt in the 1900’s because it was sinking.

Venice is the only place where the Lion’s fly and the pigeon’s walk.  Although, there were very few pigeon’s because there was a new law that you couldn’t feed them.  This made for a much cleaner square than I remember ten years ago.

(Images from the Tour)

After the tour we hit the pink-and-white marble Gothic-Renaissance Dodges Palace, residence and government center of the doges (“dukes,” elected for life) who ruled Venice for more than 1,000 years which was symbol of prosperity and power, it was destroyed by a succession of fires and was built and rebuilt in 1340 and 1424 in its present form, escaping the Renaissance fever that was in the air at the time. Forever being expanded, it slowly grew to be one of Italy’s greatest civic structures. This was where the Republic of Venice met until Napoleon took over

A 15th-century Porta della Carta (Paper Gate), the entrance next to the basilica where the doges’ official proclamations and decrees were posted,

opens onto a splendid inner courtyard with a double row of Renaissance arches.

There is a Giant’s Staircase in the center courtyard with Statues of Mars and Neptune at the top this staircase that could only be used by the important people.

The walls and ceilings of the main rooms were richly decorated by the Venetian masters, including Veronese, Titian, Carpaccio, and Tintoretto, to illustrate the history of the Venetian Republic while at the same time impressing visiting people their prosperity and power.

The Doges’ Palace contains a great many fine paintings, of which the most famous are Bacchus and Ariadne, by Tintoretto.  Tintoretto’s father was a silk dyer (tintore) so his nickname became Tintoetto )”little dyer.”  Do you like that Mr. Greg Dyer?

The first room four main rooms have ceilings decorated by Tintoretto

In the 3rd room, I call it the college room, is the Three Graces and Bacchus and Ariadne (considered one of Tintoretto’s best).

In Bacchus, Venus and Ariadne, Bacchus comes out of the sea with his wreath and skirt of vine leaves, bringing grapes and a ring. Among her rocks and drapes, Ariadne feebly extends her ring finger as an airborne Venus crowns her with stars. Ariadne – discovered by Bacchus on the island of Naxos and crowned by Venus to be received amongst the gods – stands for Venice, born on the sea, graced by divine favor and crowned by freedom.

In Minerva Sending Away Mars from Peace and Prosperity, a well-nourished Peace, crowned with an olive wreath, and Prosperity, peeping into the scene to fill her cup with splendid fruit, are protected by Minerva. She has left almost all her instruments of war on the ground and pushes back a formidably beweaponed Mars. The imagery suggests the mythical marriage of Venice with the sea.

In Vulcan’s Forge, having put to one side the now useless armor, the smith god and his helpers set about making new tools for the progress of humanity. It is winter, yet the olive of peace endures.

In the Mercury and the Graces, the Graces intermingle, as complementary and contiguous as the sides of a die, flaunting the rose and myrtle of Venus under Minerva’s olive tree. Mercury monitors this admixture of reason, love and peace.  Titian’s fresco of St Christopher which is over the doorway and is the patron saint of travel is supposed to protect the Dodge.

The Veronese’s Rape of Europe, considered one of the palazzos finest and steals some of the thunder of Tintoretto in this room.

The 4th room is one of the most impressive of the spectacular interior rooms, the richly adorned Senate Chamber, with Tintoretto’s ceiling painting,  The Triumph of Venice.

The Room of the Council of Ten had the republics dreaded security police,formed in the 14th century, in which justice was dispensed and decapitations ordered. They dealt with emergency situations; the Ten were considered more powerful than the Senate and feared by all.

Just outside there is the lions mouth”, a slit in the wall into which secret accusations of enemies of the state were placed for quick action by the
much-feared Council.

The main sight on the next level down — indeed in the entire palace — is the Great Council Hall. This enormous space is made special by Tintoretto’s huge Paradiso at the far end of the hall above the doge’s seat (the painter was in his 70s when he undertook the project with the help of his son;

he died 6 years later). Measuring, it is said to be the world’s largest oil painting;


together with Veronese’s gorgeous The Triumph of Venice in the oval panel on the ceiling, it demonstrated the power emanating from the council sessions held here. Tintoretto also did the portraits of the 76 doges encircling the top of this chamber; note that the picture of the Doge Marin Falier, who was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1355, has been blacked out — Venice has never forgiven him. This is the LARGEST room ever made at its time and Greg and I took lots of illegal pictures of a room that was hard to take a picture of because it was SO big. Other paintings represent incidents of the Fourth Crusade and of the capture of Constantinople by Dandolo.

Although elected for life since sometime in the 7th century, over time il doge became nothing but a figurehead (they were never allowed to meet with foreign ambassadors alone); the power rested in the Great Council. Exit the Great Council Hall via the tiny doorway on the opposite side of Tintoretto’sParadiso to find the enclosed Bridge of Sighs, which connects the Ducal Palace with the Prisons.

The bridge took its current name only in the 19th century, when visiting northern European poets romantically envisioned the prisoners’ final breath of resignation upon viewing the outside world one last time before being locked in their fetid cells awaiting the quick justice of the Terrible Ten. Some attribute the name to Casanova, who, following his arrest in 1755 (he was accused of being a Freemason and spreading antireligious propaganda), crossed this very bridge. He was one of the rare few to escape 15 months after his imprisonment, returning to Venice 20 years later. Some of the stone cells still have the original graffiti of past prisoners, many of them locked up interminably for petty crimes. We went in and out of lots of cells and over the river and through the woods, it was a maze in there!  I would not want to be locked up in those tiny cells.  At least it was cooler down there…

we soon emerged from the basement into the heat and made our way to the Hard Rock Café we saw on the tour of the city.

The Hard Rock had AC and a bathroom and had a HAMBURGER with GUCAMOLE!  It took a long time for them to serve us and we received our 60dollar lunch for free because THEY felt bad!  Little did they know, we were EXHAUSTED and hot and just wanted a free place to sit in Italy!  Plus we had a great view of all the tourists getting on the gondola’s, which was more than entertaining and did I mention we were below the AC duct and they kept refilling our sodas?  SO when they gave us our meal for free because of the slow service I wanted to stand up and yell “Win win!  I bought a couple t-shirts, realizing I would need to wear one of them because all of my clothes were used up because of the WONDERFUL humidity.  PLEASE RAIN SOON!


After all the great refreshment we headed to the Guggenheim, which used to be Peggy Guggenheim’s house that she turned into a museum.

There were some great paintings by Ernest, who was a pioneer of Surrealism and Dada art.

Max Ernst, Attirement of the Bride 1940 Max Ernst, The Antipope 1941–42
Max Ernst,The Kiss 1927


Gregor and I both love this man’s work. They were apparently married at one time for five short years and she must have done well because, she had lots of his work.   We had fun taking pictures of all of the stuff in the sculpture garden and some we were not supposed to take in the museum.  We eventually got caught and we were publically shamed which we easily got over.  I loved this museum!  Great art!  Except I hated the bathroom and had to use the men’s, I had to yell out when I left the stall.

Among the artists represented in the collection:Picasso, Braque, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Brancusi, de Chirico, Giacometti, Duchamp, Arp, Max Ernst, Miro, Tanguy, Calder, Bacon, Pollock, and Boccioni.


Pablo Picasso, On the Beach (La Baignade), February 12, 1937

Braque, Bowl of Fruit Vasily  Kandinsky, Upward (Empor), October 1929

Paul Klee, Portrait of Frau P. in the South
(Bildnis der Frau P. im Süden), 1924
Piet Mondrian,,Composition No. 1 with Grey and Red 1938
/ Compositon with Red 1939
, 1938–39

Constantin Brancusi, Maiastra, 1912 (?) Giorgio  de Chirico,
The Nostalgia of the Poet 
(La Nostalgie du poète), 1914
Alberto  Giacometti,
Woman Walking
(Femme qui marche), 1936
Marcel Duchamp
Nude (Study), Sad Young Man on a Train
(Nu [esquisse], jeune homme triste dans un train), 1911–12

Jean Arp,Crown of Buds I
(Couronne de bourgeons I), 1936
Max Ernst, Zoomorphic Couple 1933

Joan  Miró, Seated Woman II (Femme assise II), February 27, 1939 Yves tanguay, Promontory Palace (Palais promontoire), 1931

Alexander Calder, Three-Colored Dog, 1973 Francis Bacon, Study for Chimpanzee 1957

Jackson Pollock, Alchemy, 1947

Umberto Boccioni, Materia 1912

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity

Paul  Delvaux, The Break of Day (L’Aurore), July 1937


Works from the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Sculpture Collection, Dallas, Texas, are exhibited in the garden.



We were told ST. Mark’s closed at 6pm and so we hurried to the square to go in but it closed at 5 and we just missed it.  That sucked.  So we headed back to the hotel very tired and cleaned up AGAIN and back out into the heat to find every Venetian in town on foot and boat headed toward St. Mark’s.
Everything was closing and we soon found out that we were in the middle of the celebration of the end of the Black plague.

It was crazy!  This was basically their 4th of July!

They were going to have a huge fireworks show at 11:30 that night and party boats and private boats were all getting into place to get the best spot.  There were pirate themed boats and boats with everyone wearing just white on it and on it went.


Greg was a “crowd-a-fobe”, which begs the could he be with my “Ozzfest-mosh-pit-self?, so after we headed toward the side of the island where there was some wind to cool us off and only found a huge amount of people that we had to swim against , we found some recommended gelato and headed back toward the hotel.


Greg0r was hungry so we ate at a restaurant by the Academia Bridge and while he ate the mosquitoes ate me!  It was not a pleasant experience.  After I found some cortisone we decided to head to the Rialto Bridge, which was AWAY from all the people. We stopped in a square that had SOME breeze so I could eat before everything closed up.  On the way, we headed over the Academia Bridge to find huge amounts of lightning coming our way.  They said it was going to rain and we were REALLY happy about that.  Get rid of the humidity!  It was going to happen after the fireworks so everything would be perfect.

Greg was leading toward what he thought was the Rialto Bridge, while I secretly wanted to go see all the boats and fireworks.  He, however, got lost and as Venice goes, we ended up in the middle of St. Mark’s Square.  All roads tend to lead to St. Mark’s we found out!

Greg was a good sport after some begging he ventured in with the agreement we would take some quick boat shots and get out.  We pushed our way as close as we could between the two pillars overlooking the Grand Canal but we could get mostly the top of heads and people were converging on the square by the second.



SO we headed out and while passing St. Mark’s campanili, Greg said we should go up in there.  We thought there was no way, there must be TONS of people up in the tower, but we asked the man at the ticket booth and he said 8 Euros each and we asked no questions and soon we were at the top of the tower overlooking the whole thing with only about 60 other people!  What luck!  The best seat in the place!   We had only three people in front of us and what a view and the fireworks started 10 minutes later!



The fireworks lasted a LONG time and they were so good we thought they were finished more than a dozen times.  So after about 25 minutes we took the elevator back down and took some shots from the ground through the city streets.



It was wonderful and then we had “Pirates of the Caribbean” walk all the way back to the hotel.  You couldn’t help but sing the song “Yo Ho Yo Ho…”
We were back by 1:30AM.


JULY 17TH, 2010 – Sunday


We headed to mass at 7am after free breakfast, because I couldn’t see St. Mark’s and I decided I needed to see THAT church again!  I remember the last time I was here I went up into the top and looked close up at the mosaics.  It was AMAZING.  Today I knew I had only ONE alternative to get a glimpse inside before we left Venice… go to Mass at 7AM. It was the only alternative because the church didn’t open till 2 and we had to leave at 3.

We excited the hotel to a cool morning with RAIN!  Immediately we met some guys ready to sell us umbrellas for 5 Euros.  Sold!



SO Mike, Lynn, and one of the girls went with us to the mass  which was in Italian and we didn’t understand a word!  We just went up and down like a piston and Gregor took some illegal pictures and I drew discretely the crazy lion on the ceiling that looked very unhappy. They were done in 35 minutes.  Good short job preacher man!  Brava!



The night before showed a morning shot of a Venice full of floating water bottles on the canal and no sign of people so we played “the square is mine”!  Viewing an empty St. Mark’s was worth getting up for, there weren’t even pigeons, probably had to dodge all of those fireworks the night before! Lol.
The clouds were beautiful and by the end of mass there was no more rain and no more humidity and Venice was a different magical place.



We went back to the hotel to collect everyone to go to Murano and see the glass factory.


Great boat ride however, the glass factory was uninteresting to Gregor and I who had seen it before, so we took off for Burano.

We had a 10 min walk to the other side of the island to go to Burano and were off for a good 40 minute ride.  The town was amazing with all of its different colored houses and canals with different color boats.  Not a bad picture could be taken.




We found a pizza place and chatted it up with a man from North Carolina who was a chemist.

We had to get going and found the boat and took off to get back to the hotel by 3.  But the boats are SLOW and we thought for sure we would not make it to the hotel in time.



At 3 we just hit St. Marks and still had to get to the Academy but we turned around and Maria, who was in our group, was also on the boat.  There were now three of us AWOL and we raced up as the entire group was leaving 20 minutes late but in time to grab our bags and get on one of the most crowded vaporetta’s ever seen!  I thought we would sink if one more got on board.  We just made it to our train and I was out like a light till Florence.

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all work copyright © 2010-2012 Gregory Dyer
do not use without permission
contact Gregory Dyer for use permission

Venice, Italy images geo-tagged on
Panoramio and Google Earth. click here

all work copyright © 2010-2012 Gregory Dyer
do not use without permission
contact Gregory Dyer for use permission



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