Venice, ITALY Archives

August 17, 2008

The City On The Water

I took an early but sparsely populated flight from Zurich to Venice this morning, and then a water taxi from the airport to the Piazza di San Marco, the heart of the city. My hotel though a bit hard to find, is just 50 meters from the plaza itself. Fortunately, the room was ready for my early check-in.


Arriving at San Marco by vaporetto (the Italian for "water bus") I was struck how the modern city seems relatively unchanged from all the images of Venice I've seen in classical art. Compare the contemporary photo above with the painting below--mindful of its older boats and the slightly different angle--and you'll see what I mean.


8 Is A Super Lucky Number In China


The Beijing Games started on 8/8/08 and Michael Phelps has run the table to win 8 gold medals in 8 attempts. Hard to argue he's not the greatest Olympian ever (what with another 6 golds from 2004 already in hand and a good shot at more shiny hardware in London in 2012).

Americans Get A Share Of Tennis Olympic Gold


The Williams sisters won their second gold medals in doubles (after winning in Sydney in 2000), winning the Olympic competition fairly decisively. Congrats!

Bells And Birds


In my short time in Venice already, I've become accustomed to the sounds one must live with in such close proximity to the Piazza di San Marco. There are bells that peal loudly and regularly throughout the day. And just outside my hotel window, pigeons coo and flutter their wings routinely. I don't find either set of sounds at all annoying; rather, they remind me I'm in a place far from home.

Golden Boy


I just finished watching the gold medal match in my hotel here in Venice. Rafa Nadal was impressive in dismissing Chile's Fernando Gonzalez to win the tournament and claim a medal for an otherwise lackluster Spanish effort in Beijing. The coverage of the match was on a Spanish channel--there were other events for the sampling on Italian and German networks--which meant some very excited announcers, of course. Nadal is clearly on top of his game heading into the final major of the year in just another week. Let's hope he recovers for the Open after a very taxing summer.



As Apple aficionados are prone to speculate endlessly about the company's forthcoming product debuts, there has been a decent amount of chatter on the Internet lately about the prospects for a Mac-based tablet computer. Now who knows if the concept presented in the above photo bears any semblance to what the folks in Cupertino may be bringing us in the future, but should Apple put together something like that, with an effective implementation of handwriting recognition, it will be hard for me to resist scooping one up.

A Little Night Music

After dinner I caught a glimpse of a spectacular full moon rising over the Grand Canal; it was strikingly reddish, almost salmon pink really. Then I entered the Palazzo delle Prigione, a former prison connected to the Doge's Palace by the Bridge of Sighs. Inside a five-piece string ensemble played works by Mozart, Galuppi, Bach, and Rossini--a pleasant late evening concert here in Venice. Apparently the classical music scene is quite active in the city.

August 18, 2008

Breakfast In Europe

Breakfast in my hotel this morning was served on a terrace just steps away from my room. It was Continental style: some ham and cheese on offer, with different types of cereal and breads and a bit of yogurt. In other words, no hot food. What I miss from Oxford is the daily English breakfast served in the Merton College hall, with fried eggs, the British version of bacon (which is more like smoked ham than what we are used to in the states), and sausage as well as ample toast on the side. Generally baked beans and tomato and mushrooms are included in the English breakfast, though I pass on those. Juice and tea were readily available as well. The Continental breakfast just doesn't compare to that.


Ambling Through Venice


I took the advice of a traveler who had been to Venice before and left my map in the hotel room, opting to find my own way through the narrow winding streets of the city. What passes for "streets" in Venice would be considered "alleys" most anywhere else. But there are enough signs indicating the direction of the major landmarks of the city that one can find his way without too much trouble. Taking a wrong turn, of course, quickly becomes a dead end unless you can walk on water. But you can't really be off course for long in this place.

Venice truly has maintained its Old World feel. Part of that is the lack of traffic and its accompanying noise: quite simply, there are no cars, buses, or cycles anywhere in sight or in earshot. Nor does one see skyscrapers dominating the landscape. Also missing are the logos and advertisements for multinational brand names one is accustomed to seeing all over a modern city. That's not to say that Venice isn't commercial; indeed it's clear this place thrives on the tourist trade. It is possible to stumble onto a McDonald's and a Burger King, but they are well out of the way, rather than prominently positioned in Piazza di San Marco, the way such establishments are clearly visible in Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, or even Red Square. And so Venice seemingly has kept the more obvious signs of globalization well hidden in preserving a traditional appearance that still has a lot of charm for the visitor.

The Course Of Empire


Every time I walk through the Piazza di San Marco, I'm reminded of a Thomas Cole painting, the third in a series of five known as "The Course Of Empire." The painting in question is called "The Consummation," and it depicts a prosperous port city in all its abundant glory, a city-state at the zenith of its power. The arrangement of the architecture in the Venetian plaza--the ornate Byzantine architecture of the basilica, the adjacent formidable ducal palace overseeing the Grand Canal, the clock tower, and the twin columns featuring the lion of Saint Mark and the statue of Saint Teodoro of Amasea atop them--all suggest Cole's magnum opus.

I suppose Cole's "Course Of Empire" paintings are my mind because I saw them recently in a slide presentation at one of our seminar meetings out at Stanford a few weeks back. I also remember seeing the original paintings in person at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford ten years ago with a Choate American Studies class.

Changing Of The Guard


It's official: there's a new #1 in men's tennis today, and that is Olympic gold medalist Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina has won four consecutive tournaments on the tour and is sneaking into dangerous dark horse territory in next week's U.S. Open.

August 19, 2008

So Long, Venice


I didn't get to see much of the city this morning, as I had to spend some time on the MacBook attending to some pressing work for the start of the school year. And now it's time to leave Venice. I've enjoyed my short stay here and we'll definitely planned to return to this beautiful city.

About Venice, ITALY

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to As Far As You Know in the Venice, ITALY category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Vancouver is the previous category.

Vienna is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.