Friday 24 July
Venice turned on a perfect day for us today with a beautiful ocean breeze and slightly cooler temperatures than we have had for two weeks…a pleasant 33 degrees!
We went first this morning to the Accademia crossing one of only three bridges over the Grand Canal into the Veneto District to find the distinguished classical gallery with its very impressive collection of late mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque art laid out in large rooms with reasonably good English explanations. All the normal suspects were there including many paintings by Tintoretto, Veronese, Carpaccio, Tiziano, Lotto, and all the Bellinis! Many of the paintings are so massive in scope that they take up whole walls of the gallery. Only one Mantegna and the one Piero della Francesca was on loan elsewhere.
The Veneto side of the Grand Canal has a lot of high end modern art galleries and some very swank hotels which make poor old Hotel Georgio look very down in the mouth. Murano glass is everywhere and some very impressive installations by many new artists including Korean artists.
Paintings which I liked in the Accademia included Giorgione’s controversial La Tempesta, controversial largely because no-one seems to be able to provide any sensible explanation for its images. I also liked Lotto’s Young Gentleman in his Studies and some of the architectural perspective drawings of Pietro Gaspuri. Tintoretto’s Creation of the Animals, Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel also made an impact.
After lunch we wandered along the Veneto side of the Grand Canal laneways across many canals (but no gondolas) and eventually came to the wide steps of the massive Salute church and sat there waiting for siesta to be over for it to open. There was much to see with on the Grand Canal with water taxis, water buses, gondolas, touring boats and private launches all vying for space and seemingly no rules regarding left or right side of the canal!
The Salute eventually opened and was a subdued, classical styled church with a large central area under the dome and a separate area under a different area for prayers. A ring of Old Testament prophets high above looked down on proceedings and there were some large paintings but in the main the decoration was subdued.
Venice on a pleasant warm day must have few equals. There is no city quite like it and we will be sad to leave. There is enough to explore in this city to fill many months not just the three days we have given it. Tomorrow we train to Florence for our final four days in Italy. It has been a privileged and amazing experience.