of the Week
We start this new section where every week a different picture will be showcased. Occasionally, there will be a second picture for you to identify.
The answer will be posted the following week, but if you do not want to wait, you can always e-mail me at:
(your e-mail address will not be published or shared)
||San Polo||Picture of the Week 2010|
||Santa Croce||Picture of the Week 2011|
|Castello||San Marco||Picture of the Week 2012|
||Christmas in Venice||Picture of the Week 2013|
||Signs, Banners and Graffiti||Picture of the Week 2014|
|Cast in Stone
||External Links||Picture of the Week 2016|
|Summertime||Venice and the Eastern Mediterranean||Picture of the Week 2017|
|Most Serene Places||My Favorites||Picture of the Week 2018|
|Dorsoduro||Picture of the Week||Picture of the Week 2019|
|Church of Santi Geremia e
December 13 is the feast day of Saint Lucy, patroness of Syracuse (Italy), the Saint Lucia islands in the Caribbean and the state of Nebraska. Her relics were moved to the church of San Geremia when hers was demolished in 1861 to make room for the new railroad station. Her bones were stolen in November 1981 and recovered a few weeks later on her feast day. Santa Lucia's feast day is widely celebrated in Italy and the Scandinavian countries.
voyage to the world of Carpaccio
It's impossible to love Venice and not to love Vittore Carpaccio. He rarely made Venice the subject of his paintings but Venice is embedded in each of his brushstrokes, in each cityscape that he depicted in minute detail, be it Jerusalem or Alexandria. Sometimes uninhibited, sometimes candid, but never timid or cagey and always luminous, Carpaccio ushers us into the world of Venice with her mannerisms, her people and her myths. In the book "Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation," (Liveright, New York, 2014) Jan Morris takes us on an intimate tour of Carpaccio's universe, his affections, his soft-spots, his humor. The book is lusciously illustrated with blown-up details of many of his pictures. It's size and landscape shape, ŕ la "Venice for Pleasure," make it the perfect companion on our bookshelves to J. G. Link's classic. Talking about Vittore (Jan Morris is on a first-name basis with him) she says: "I feel I know him personally, and I often sense that I am directly in touch with him across the centuries, across the continents, as one might be in touch with a living friend." And she is speaking for a lot of us.
Andrea de la Zirada, main altar. Santa Croce.
The original church dates from 1329 but it was rebuilt in 1475 in the Gothic style. It's been deconsecrated and it's now used for art exhibits. It can rarely be visited.
A group of sculptures, including the dead Christ, adorns the main altar, a work of Flemish artist Giusto Le Court (1679). Some of the art work that was originally in this church can now be admired in the Museo Diocesano, in Sant' Apollonia (Castello).
Thanks to Sophie from Paris for sharing these great pictures with all of us.
Lustraferi (or Lustraferri), Cannaregio. The lustraferi, a typical
Venetian profession, made the ferri of the gondolas smooth and shiny.
The ferro da prňra
or ferro di prua
is located at the bow and resembles the doge's hat. It
weights about 20 pounds and gives stability to the gondola.
The ferro di poppa
or risso is in the
stern and has a spiral shape. It's the highest point of the
gondola and it's often cut or has a hinge so it can be
folded over for easy passage under bridges during hide tide.
|Crossing the Alps by plane
doesn't do justice to one of the most beautiful regions of
our planet where the perfect marriage of nature and
civilization takes place, but it gives us an all-embracing
view of hidden locations sheltered in concealed valleys
that would take us hours, if not days, to connect by car,
all in less than 30 minutes. These pictures were taken at
the end of summer from the port side of the airplane on a
trip from Frankfurt to Venice.
|Inn River Valley. The Inn
River starts in Switzerland, cuts across the Austrian
Tyrol (the "panhandle" of Austria), darts fully into
Germany, then delimits the border between Germany and
Austria and ends at Passau on the Danube. It's the only
river that carries Switzerland into the Black Sea (via the
Danube.) A few miles before its end, it receives the
waters of its major tributary, the Salzach. Innsbruck is
some 20 miles upstream, or to the right, in the picture
below. On the banks of the Inn River two opposites
were born: Adolf Hitler and Pope Benedict XVI:
|Kramsach (bottom), Breitenbach
(middle) and Wörgl (top) on the Inn River. The Inntal Autobahn
runs parallel to the river. Tyrol; Austria:
|The bridge on the Ziller River
connects Kaltenbach (center, bottom) and Stumm (center,
top). The Ziller River is a tributary of the Inn River. It
runs from south (right) to north (left). Traveling singers
and organ builders, for whom the region of the Ziller
Valley was famous, are credited with spreading around the
world the beloved Christmas carol "Silent Night," which
was composed and sung for the first time on the banks of
the Salzach River, at Oberndorf near Salzburg:
|Salzach Valley. The Salzach
River has its source near Krimml. It runs west (bottom) to
east (top) before it turns north. It cuts across Salzburg,
it becomes the border between Germany and Austria, before
it empties its waters into the Inn:
|Valle Aurina (named after the Torrente
Aurino or Golden Stream that runs through it; also known
as Ahrntal or Ahr
Valley) is the first valley as we cross the Alps from
Austria into Italy. It's located in South Tyrol also known
as Alto Adige:
|Another view of the Ahrntal
running right to left. The villages of Sand in Taufers
(Campo Tures) and Mühlen in Taufers (Molini di Tures) are seen below. This part of
the South Tyrol in the Italian region of Trentino-Alto
Adige is predominantly German speaking, with less than 3%
of the population claiming Italian as their first
|Brunico or Bruneck, a city at
the confluence of the Ahr and the Rienz rivers. It was an
important trading post between Venice and southern Germany
in the 14th and 15th centuries. Only about 15% of the
population speaks Italian as the first language; the vast
majority speaks German:
|San Vigilio di Marebbe or Al
Plan de Mareo, in Ladin. Ladin is the native language of
this region of Italy. Ladin is a group of Romance dialects
spoken in certain regions of Alto Adige, Trentino and
Belluno. It should not be confused with Ladino, a language
spoken by the Sephardic Jews. In Al Plan de Mareo more
than 90% of the population speaks Ladin as their first
|Lago di Fedaia. The Fedaia is
an artificial lake in the province of Trento near the
border with the province of Belluno. Scenes from the movie
"The Italian Job" (2003) were filmed on this lake. It sits
next to the Marmolada, a group of mountains that holds the
largest glacier of the Dolomites. The Marmolada can be
seen on the right:
|Cicona (bottom of picture),
Zortea (just above Cicona) – both in the bottom valley-,
Mezzano (center), Imer (to its right) and Fiera di
Primiero (upper left) – all three in the top valley–
are small villages in the province of Trento
(Trentino-Alto Adige). Imer is the first village in the
Primiero Valley after the spectacular Gola dello Schenčr
(Gorge of the Schenčr), seen in the picture below as a
deep cut in the mountains, about one third up from the
bottom on the
right hand side.
According to legend, this gorge was formed thanks to a
lonely and determined otter who cut a passage downstream
of the Schenčr River's basin. This brought water into the
Primiero Valley, making human habitation possible. The
otter is immortalized in the emblems of the municipalities
of the region:
|A closer view of Mezzano and
Imer and the Gola dello Schenčr leading to the Primiero Valley:
|Lago del Senŕiga in the
municipality of Lamon (seen to the left of the lake),
province of Belluno in the region of the Veneto. Lamon was
officially incorporated into the territory of the
Serenissima in 1420:
|Brenta Valley and Bassano del
Grappa in the Veneto:
|Andrea di Robilant's latest
work: "Chasing the Rose. An Adventure in the Venetian
Countryside" is a gem of a book with an embossed dust jacket
and charming watercolors by Nina Fuga that engages the reader even
before it is opened. Di Robilant does the rest with his
In his previous books –all related to Venice– "A Venetian Affair," "Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon," and "Irresistible North," he took us around Venice by gondola, to Paris by stagecoach and to Iceland and Greenland by ship and plane. This time he drives us around the Veneto and Friuli in search of Rosa Moceniga, a mysterious rosebush that grows wild in Alvisopoli in the remains of what once was a model farming and manufacturing community, the brainchild of his great-great-great-great grandfather, Alvise Mocenigo.
Who brought this rose to Alvisopoli? Was it Lucia, Alvise's wife and Empress Josephine's friend? Is this rose an "old blush," the most common of old roses? Its peculiar scent of peaches and raspberries tells di Robilant that it is not. But how can he be sure? Answering these questions is the apparent purpose of di Robilant's adventures in northern Italy but those questions recede to the background as he starts to meet and interact with rose lovers in the Venetian countryside and beyond.
I am no rose aficionado (I gather neither was di Robilant before he started his chase). I can hardly distinguish one variety from the next, the taxonomy of roses interests me as much as the inner workings of my coffee maker and Gertrude Stein's sentence: "a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" perfectly summarizes my standing on the subject, but I couldn't put this little book down once I started it. Di Robilant reeled me in and made me feel that I was not just reading a book about roses but rather I was following a friend on a poetic quest. I used Google maps to pinpoint places that di Robilant vividly describes in minute detail but of which he does not give the precise location. For example, of his first encounter with one of the book's highlights, the amazing rose garden of Signora Eleonora Garlant in Friuli, he says: "The road wound through Artegna and came to a dead end in a dusty parking lot next to a construction site –a new sports facility, by the look of it....[The] house [was] the last one before the railroad tracks." With a little bit of guesswork and the help of Street View I was able to find the exact place in Artegna and take a look around the garden which, regrettably, was not in bloom.
"Chasing the Rose" is a lyrical tale of a family history brought full circle by a descendant centuries after it started. The Mocenigo's coat of arms bears a simple five-petal rose. Lucia brought from Paris a rose scented like peaches and raspberries that grew wild and forgotten for two hundred years near Venice. Andrea di Robilant rediscovered it.
After reading this book which, incidentally, brought back fond memories of another book about a rose too – "The Little Prince"– I learned to regard this most common of flowers with a fresh and inquisitive appreciation.