Venice is one of those cities which you cannot go to enough, so I am circling back once again to tell this tale. The mysteries of Venice reveal themselves slowly, each time you go. On this last trip I explored more of the great culinary and artistic traditions which this great city has to offer.
My first stop on this trip was to the fish market, the heart of Venice’s culinary soul, where you see Venetians shopping for their dinner. I too wanted to know what was for dinner!
My favorite place in Venice is the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, a 700 year old library with modern and post-modern architectural interventions, and with an art collection of Baroque, Rococo, and modern art. The first floor museum and garden were designed by Carlo Scarpa. These spaces are a sublime ebb and flow of the water, the foundation of the city. I also enjoy how the work of Maria Morganti (color field paintings) interpret the fantastic paintings by Bellini and Tiepolo. In many respects the play of old and new animate this museum, and the lack of crowds is refreshing.
Next we treated ourselves to the perfect Italian donut. Half the fun was navigating the city to get to this shop written up by the New York Times.
I like modern architecture in Venice as it cuts the ornateness of most Venetian buildings. Tado Ando now has 3 venues in Venice, and each shines with a restrained intervention of existing space. At the Palazzo Grassi, Ando’s first project in Venice, he inserted a functioning museum into the of an 18th Century palazzo (see Snapshot #11 for other views of this museum). Plaster walls hang suspended on top of, and within, an existing architectural language…like two worlds coming close to each other but not fully interacting. They mesh but don’t necessarily communicate directly to each other, harmonious but also cold.
Of all the shows that I have seen in this space, I have been most moved by the tactile, vibrant intervention of indigo dye applied in this installation, and I love how it shocks the architectural gold leaf cornice details to life.
A former customs house is transformed by Ando into the museum Punta della Dogana. Here the modern vocabulary intersecting with a traditional space is more effective, and the dialogue is more convincing. I think the severity of the modern vocabulary speaks directly to the utilitarian structure. The tactile mix of metal, brick, concrete and wood works so well here.
When in Venice, take lots of breaks to drink wine and snack on Cichetti. One of my favorites venues which we stumbled upon was at a local cafe Bar Ai Do Draghi, located on an alley but with seating on Campo Santa Margherita.
The great thing about Venice is that you run across great architecture at every turn. A walk around Venice reveals new treasures at every turn.
We had several great dinners, but our favorite, Osteria Alle Testiera, had few tourists (a hard thing in Venice). It was crowded with locals, sitting for a great dinner, or standing and lounging outside on the stone steps. And what one sees on sale at the fish market in the morning, the soft shell crabs or octopus, is on the menu for dinner at night, completing the circle. Truly a great way to end the day, and a fabulous trip.
David Bjørngaard, October 2014