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Thursday, June 30, 2016

The "Fancy Cars" of Venice

Gondola’s have become a city’s symbols of my hometown, even more than the official winged lions.
But did you know that the Gondola was originally invented as private transportation vehicle for the upper classes? You can say that they were “the fancy cars” of Venice. 
Until the 1930s, the gondola was fitted with a small cabin, that we call “felze” which served to protect passengers from the weather and also to give them some privacy, something that has always being a big concern for the Venetians.The windows of the felze could be closed with shutters, the original Venetian blinds. They were accessorized with beautiful sofas chairs and gold accents.
A good example of such a gondola survives in the courtyard of the Ca'Rezzonico.
Until the 18th century there were up to 10,000 gondolas. Today there are barely more than 400.
Yes very touristic and expensive, but I think a ”must” while in Venice.
For more fun facts and history of Gondolas and Venice you can visit my “Venice" segment on my official page www.giadavalenti.com.
From Venice With Love,
Giada 




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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Places to relax in Venice: 2. San Lazzaro degli Armeni

You will need to take the number 20 ferry which leaves from the San Zaccaria stop along Riva degli Schiavoni at 3:10pm to arrive to one of the most quiet and beautiful little Island of the lagoon: San Lazzaro degli Armeni

Named after St Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers, this small island in the Venetian lagoon served as a leper colony in the 12th century. It was subsequently abandoned until in 1717 , when an Armenian monk, Manug di Pietro , known as Mechitar, fled his Turkish persecutors and came to Venice. The Venetian government, that famously was welcoming foreigners, gave San Lazzaro to Mechitar who founded an Armenian order on the island. Mechitar and his 17 monks built a monastery, restored the crumbling lepers’ church, and quadrupled the tiny island’s area (originally 7000 square meters).

The monastery-island became a centre of learning, with a printing hall that produced works in three-dozen languages. Full of admiration for the monks’ academic lifestyle, in 1816 the Romantic poet Lord Byron repeatedly

visited the island to study Armenian. It is said that Lord Byron spent six months here in 1816 helping the monks to prepare an English-Armenian dictionary and he could often be seen swimming from the island to the Grand Canal.

Today, monks give visitors guided tours to the monastery, the church, the art library, and the museum that contains some incredible collections of treasures, including more than 4,000 Armenian manuscripts, some of them nearly 1,300 years old, a Koran created after the death of Mohammed, an Indian papyrus from the 13th Century, an Egyptian sarcophagus and a mummy from the 15th Century B.C and thrones, tables, statues, paintings, tapestries, gold, silver, jewels, and other items that the monks either bought or received as gifts over the centuries.

The island hosts also a spectacular gardens with flowers, cypress trees, and orchids.
The Mechitarist monks at San Lazzaro are known also for making a delicious jam from rose petals around May, when the roses are in full bloom. Besides rose petal, it contains white caster sugar, water, and lemon juice. It is called Vartanush, literally translating to “ weet rose”. Around five thousand jars of jam are made and sold in the gift shop in the island.


The resident of this beautiful islands include 10 monks, 10 seminarians, and 15 Armenian students who study Italian language and culture.


From Venice with Love,
Giada


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Friday, June 24, 2016

Hidden jewels of Venice : The snail house.

If you look over the rooftops of Venice from a high vantage point, such as the bell tower of St Mark’s, you will see a beautiful and curious round brick tower decorated with a series of white arches.
It’s the Scala Contarini del Bovolo , literally, the staircase of the snail”.
Although external staircases were the norm in Venetian houses of the 14th and 15th centuries, this staircase stood out from the crowd in terms of its size and shape.
After the 16th century staircases were generally sited inside the houses. The staircase of the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo is connected to the main structure by a beautiful side addition made up of four loggias and leads to an arcade, providing an impressive view of the city roof-tops. This palazzo can be visited with a 5€ entrance. The design of the Palazzo is attributed to Giovanni Candi and Giorgio Spavento is believed to have been responsible for the addition of the grand spiral staircase on the exterior in 1499.
The palazzo is located in a small and quiet calle near Campo Manin very close to the Rialto and Campo Santo Stefano.
The Palazzo del Bovolo was chosen by Orson Welles as one of the main locations for his 1952 adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello and the staircase is prominently featured in the film.
From Venice With Love,
Giada
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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Symbols of Venice: the Goddess of Fortune


The Punta della Dogana is the south entrance on the Grand Canal of my beautiful hometown, Venice. It have the shape of triangle and it divides the Grand Canal from the Canal of the Giudecca.  On the point of the triangle there is the Dogana da Mar, the Customs House, which was built between 1677 and 1682 by Giuseppe Benoni
Since Venice was once one of Europes busiest ports, ships from all over the world were docking here while awaiting clearance from customs to unload. The top of the Dogana was hosting once a watch tower to guard against foreign invasion. Later the watch tower was replaced by one of my favorite symbols of Venice:  a golden globe known as the palla d’oro, the golden sphere created by Bernardo Falconi . It has the form of two kneeling Atlantids, who support on their backs a gilded sphere that represents the world. On top of the sphere stands the goddess Fortune, who is known as 'Occasio'. She holds a gilded sail and a steering-oar, rotating to indicate the wind direction and, symbolically, the mutability of fortune itself.
It is said that when the palla d’oro was erected the winds of fortune started blowing very strongly in Venice’s direction. After standing empty for many years, the Dogana da Mar was bought by Fran├žois Pinault, a French billionaire and collector of contemporary art, who hired Tadoa Ando, a Japanese architect, to revamp the interior. It is now a beautiful gallery of contemporary art. ​
From Venice With Love.
Giada

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Places to relax in Venice: 1. Parco delle Rimembranze

My hometown is a small little city with millions of tourist visiting every day. At first sight it may look like a very crowed place. But there are so many places you can visit more peaceful, where silent will be almost the only sound you will hear. 
Happy to share with you some of my favorite place to escape the crowds and experience the real charm of Venice.
1. The public park on the Island of Sant’Elena: a haven of tranquility and greenery.
The park is dedicated to the Venetian soldiers who died in World War II, and it is said that every tree in the park was planted in memory of one of the fallen.
You can crisscross the pathways between the trees, around benches and to find the statues of notable figures, such as composers Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner.
You can relax in the open air, have a quiet pick-nick time enjoying the spectacular views of the Venetian lagoon. Stay tune for more.
From Venice With Love,
Giada
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Masks: a Venetian love affair

Venetians loved to wear masks at any given opportunity, to the point where, for security reasons, in the second half of 1200 laws had to be put in place to specify where, when and who was allowed to walk around masked.
Venetians wore the masks primarily to hide their social standing more than for hiding their own identity, that way allowing even the noble man to be kind of in incognito. Any servant could be mistaken for an aristocrat, and vice versa. Men and women could be flirting more freely, without the fear of moral judgment and have less inhibitions. You often could not even tell women from men!
The history of the Venetian masks might also be founded on the nature of this maritime town and by the characters of its inhabitants.
Venice was one of the most important and wealthy powers of the time, with a high standard of living even for the average citizen.
Venice was also a small community, inside a town of narrow roads, both of water and stones.
On the other side, the Venetians were seamen, merchants, adventurers. They ruled over a big part of the eastern Mediterraneo and they were used to the openness and freedom of the sea.
So wishing to keep that feeling of freedom once they were at home, they loved to wear a mask.
Towards the last decades of the Venetian Republic, the Venetian were allowed to wear masks only during the Carnival and parties.
The penalty for not observing those laws were strong sanctions.
From Venice With Love,
Giada




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