Venice has 'captured' the heart, mind and imagination of so many writers, poets, artists and historians. Venice is one of my favourite subjects in art, literature and history, and I am always eager to learn more and look more at this unique and special place. This Venice blog is my way of collecting the wealth of images, poems, prose and impressions of Venice.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Your first visit to Venice – a suggested itinerary Part 3

Your first visit to Venice - Part 1 Monday (day of arrival)
Your first visit to Venice - Part 2 Tuesday

Part 3/ Day 3 - WEDNESDAY

Again, as it’s the middle of the week, I recommend that you use today to visit Venice’s busiest art museums – the Accademia Gallery, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Punta della Dogana.

Accademia Gallery
I would start with the historic picture collection of the Accademia Gallery to view the world’s foremost collection of Venetian art.  

When Napoleon captured Venice in 1797, he suppressed its churches, convents and monasteries and much of these institutions’ artworks fortunately wound up here, in the Accademia. 

Even the buildings housing the Accademia were originally the church of Santa Maria della Carità, the Convento dei Canonici Laterenensi and the Scuola della Carità.

As you walk around, it’s fascinating to read the labels and find out where each of the works were originally located in Venice.  Photography is prohibited within the gallery, so I can't show you any images.  Some highlights are:
  •  Veronese’s enormous Christ in the House of Levi (originally from the refectory of the church of SS Giovanni e Paolo – the church still exists, but the refectory is now part of the city’s hospital)
  • Tintoretto’s St Mark Freeing a Slave from the Scuola di San Marco (also now part of the city’s hospital)
  •  Carpaccio’s Story of St Ursula, painted for the Scuola di Sant’ Orsola 
  • Lovely fragments of a ceiling that the 18th-century painter Giambattista Tiepolo painted for the Scalzi church, which was bombed by Austrians in 1915.  The restored church still stands near the railway station.
  • The cycle of the Miracle of the True Cross painted from 1494-1501 for the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista (this scuola still exists and you’ll get to see it later in the week).
One of the few works in this collection that is still exhibited in the place for which it was painted is Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin (1539), on the wall above the door of the former albergo of the scuola.

Next stop is lunch, and I highly recommend a little bar called Da Gino which is on the main drag toward the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. 

Lunch at Da Gino
Please order a tramezzino sandwich.  You’ll never forget your first taste of a tonno e ouva tramezzino from Da Gino.  I always love to bring friends and family here, order them this tramezzino and then watch their faces as they take their first bite. 

Wash it down with a glass of Prosecco.  Finish it off with a restorative espresso or macchiato.

Feeling refreshed?  Great.  Let’s set off for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Peggy moved to Venice 1949 and lived here at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni until her death in 1979.  She brought to Venice her wonderful collection of 20th century art including works by Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Pollock, Giacometti, Magritte and her husband, Max Ernst.  It’s a small but wonderful collection, and a delightful museum.  I’ve written about the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in other posts in this blog, and you can find links to past articles here:

Please say hello to Marino Marini’s wonderful Angel of the Citadel for me.  Please lean against the balustrade of the balcony and please say hello to that view of the Grand Canal for me.

Marino Marini sculpture at Peggy Guggeneheim Collection Venice capturingvenice.blogspot.com
Angel of the Citadel, Marino Marini at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice
Then, please step into the cafe and enjoy a coffee or another prosecco for me, and then visit the gift shop and support the museum with several purchases.

Punta della Dogana
Now, race over to the Punta della Dogana (the former customs house), which since 2009 has been Francois Pinault’s Centro d’Arte Contemporanea, a gorgeous exhibition space created by Japanese architect Tadao Ando and showcasing a rotating range of terrific exhibitions of contemporary work.  Pinault also owns the fabulous Palazzo Grassi, also an exhibition space for contemporary work, which is located on the other side of the Grand Canal near the San Samuele vaporetto stop.

If you haven’t yet seen the inside the Salute, you should also take the opportunity to do this now.

La Salute church Venice capturingvenice.blogspot.com
Exterior of the Salute 
The Zattere/ Gesuati
Continue along the Zattere – a wide, long scenic walk along the edge of the sestiere of Dorsoduro with views across the wide Giudecca canal to the islands of the Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore.  Your first stop along the Zattere  is the Gesuati church to see Tiepolo’s magnificent ceiling panel, Scenes from the life of St Dominic.

There are some nice bars along the way to stop and have a drink or Gelateria Nico is famous for its gelato and gianduia ice cream.  Not far away is the scenic squero di San Trovaso, the oldest gondola yard still in operation.  Nearby is the bar, Cantinone Storico, famous for its wines and cichetti (delicious tit bits to be consumed with a small tipple of local wine).

La Giudecca
From here, walk back to the Zattere to catch a vaporetto across to the Giudecca.  It’s only a short hop away.  Take a walk around this largely residential area.  The city’s wealthiest nobles used to build their villas here, until the Brenta River became prestigious in the 17th-century.  From the 19th-century, many areas of the Giudecca were transformed by industry including an asphalt factory, a distillery, the Junghans clock and watch factory, Fortuny’s textile factory (which still operates here), and the enormous and imposing neo-Gothic Mulino Stucky flour mill, which closed in 1954 and became the Molino Stucky Hilton in 2003.  It has the city’s only rooftop pool and a great roof-top bar with excellent views.

Once on the Giudecca, poke your head into that grand Palladian church, Il Redentore.  I love the serenity and elegance of its interior. 

You could have dinner at La Palanca, to enjoy the view across to the Zattere, and then a night-cap at the roof top bar of the Hilton.

Click here to read 'Your first visit to Venice - a suggested itinerary Part 4/Day 4'

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