We stayed in a neighborhood of locals, artists, and students: Dorsoduro. Just a hop over the Grand Canal, it’s a less crowded, cheaper part of Venice.
In the morning we found the neighborhood piazza. A farmer’s market was happening: Fresh flowers and produce on sale. Neighbors catching up with each other, older folks sunning in their cafe chairs while smoking cigarettes.
We popped into one of the piazza cafes for our morning cappuccinos. A pleasant surprised was the many fried treats and pastries behind the counter. We decided to split a plate of pastries and fried morsels. By morsels, I mean battered baccala and cream cheese, croquettes (meat, mozzarella, potatoes) and fried chicken and veggies.
As we noshed, an abundance of neighborhood characters sauntered into the cafe greeting the old man behind the counter. There was a dad and his son with golden curls bobbing his face as he rode around the cafe on his scooter. There was an old man sipping prosecco and an old woman wearing sunglasses with her prized fur coat. Two dogs came in and seemed to become buddies, despite one being a huge retriever and the other a small, fuzzy poodle. Everyone was nibbling on pastries, fried treats, and sipping their morning drink of choice. By the end of our breakfast, the place was packed; even a pigeon waltzed in to snap up stray crumbs from the floor.
We had decided that our first tourist stop of the day would be the Guggenheim. As we were walking there we noticed a sign for a Leonardo DaVinci exhibit in a church. Leonardo dedicated his life to bringing his most marvelous dreams into existence. The exhibit consisted of some 40 invention models reproduced from the original drawings of Leonardo DaVinci’s manuscripts. These included housing and building inventions, mechanics, hydraulics, war machinery, and Leonardo’s famous, “Flying Machine.” Some replicas were interactive so you could see how the machines worked. I was fascinated by the expanse of DaVinci’s mind as well as his talents. Not only was he one of the most talented painters from history, but he was an inventor and scientist of great genius.
After seeing Leonardo’s inventions, we arrived at the Guggenheim. The Guggenheim in Venice includes Peggy Guggenheim’s modern art collection, as well as a few traveling exhibits. Peggy was a former wife of artist Max Ernst and a niece of the mining magnate, Solomon R. Guggenheim. The collection we saw was amassed mostly between 1938 – 1946. She is also known for helping to promote the talent of Jackson Pollock, by offering him a gallery contract in July 1943. This Pollock connection is present in the collection. I saw some very beautiful Pollock pieces I’d never seen anywhere else before.
Besides the collection we also saw an exhibit on the french salon from the late 1800s, called, “Salon De La Rose + Croix.”
After the Guggenheim, we ate pizza nearby. It was a nice lunch break, except for the aggressive, large Venetian seagulls who were dive bombing our food.
After lunch we went to St. Marc’s to go inside and see San Marco’s piazza from above the crowds. I never tire of walking through St. Marc’s. It epitomizes the word, “opulence” with its endless interior of gold and Murano glass mosaics, domes, and the original four horses you can see in the museum above.
It is certain that the four horses statue was on display at the Hippodrome of Constantinople during the 8th- or early 9th-century. The statue dates back to year 4 BC. The horses were in Constantinople (Today, known as Istanbul) until 1204, when they were looted by Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade.
I love the details and facial expressions on each horse. I think we tend to associate “ancient” with “primitive” at times, but looking at early art of this quality reminds me how advanced ancient civilizations actually were.