Ca’Rezzonico – A Magnificent Venetian Palace

Venice is a city full of beautiful palaces and hidden treasures to discover and on my last trip I visited Ca’Rezzonico, a splendid palace designed by Baldassare Longhena a great Baroque architect of the city, for the Bon family.  Whilst building of the palace started in 1649, it was halted in 1682 following the death of Longhena at around the same time as that of his client and the palace left uncompleted. But in 1687, Giambattista Rezzonico, a merchant and banker from Lombardy, bought the palace and appointed Giorgio Massari, a renowned and eclectic artist of the time to finish the building for him.

By 1758 the palace was completed and was a splendid celebration of Venetian art and a show of wealth and culture. A collection of works, by the most prominent artists of the time. The rooms feature beautiful ceilings and frescoes, painted by Venetian artists, including Giambattista Crosato, Pietro Visconti and Giambattista Tiepolo. In the same year the younger brother of Giambattista Rezzonico, Carlo, Bishop of Padua, was elected Pope under the name Clement XIII. However, this was to be the peak for the palace and the family, as by 1810 there were no family members left. The palace was stripped of its’ furnishings and art works were sold off.  The house then passed through many different hands during the 19th Century, before being sold to Venice Town Council in 1935 and now it holds the Museum of 18th Century Venice!

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Love this little cheeky parrot keeping a watch over one of the doorways of the palace! A rather unexpected addition!

I spent a rather dreamy afternoon wandering around its rooms, taking in all the beautiful colours and amazing chandeliers!! I dream of the day when I have a house worthy of an exquisite chandelier . I love looking around palaces and stately homes and fantasising about living in such a grand home and swirling around my ballroom and having a library and a music room (I don’t think that will ever happen – but a girl can dream!)!

The museum isn’t full of hundreds of pieces of furniture or loads of information to read, but the palace was so peaceful and has some really special pieces of art to see, definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourselves in Venice! My favourite part was the first floor, eleven rooms with frescoes and bright ceilings, as if only recently painted and of course all the chandeliers! I managed to only really take pictures of the chandeliers, but you can still get a sense of the grandeur and beauty of the palace. Even after its rather troubled period of financial loss and being passed from owner to owner, the Palace still shines bright and stands proud on Venice’s Grand Canal.

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Anna

Musings on things to come…

Good morning to you all from (finally) a rather wintry, bitter cold Milan! Still no snow though! I am excited to get writing again this weekend and over the coming weeks and building my blog, which I think needs and deserves a little more of my time this year. Less procrastination and more productivity is definitely the key! We are all victims of this from time to time and I often more than others it would seem! But alas, I am full of ideas and determination, so lots of writing to do!

Including in the next couple of weeks a further post on my last trip to Venice, a book review and a focus on posts all about Milan, places to go, what to see, what to do!

For now, I leave you with a photo of the Bridge of Sighs – Ponte dei Sospiri – in Venice and will be back soon!

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Anna

Things I Love Catch Up and Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my Dad’s birthday, so Happy Birthday Dad!  One of the hardest things about living abroad and being away from your family, is missing birthdays or anniversaries or even Sunday Lunches! Of course this makes the time I spend at home even more special but I do miss being there for special occasions and of course birthday cake!! Thank goodness for skype! When my Mum lived in Germany she could only call my grandparents or write letters…these days you can face time, skype, whatsapp, distances of thousands of miles can be forgotten in seconds!

I haven’t done a Things I Love Sundays post for a couple of weeks, for one reason or another, so today I am doing a little catch up of everything I have been thankful for and loved over the past weeks!

Spontaneous trips to Venice Catching Up with one of my best friends Laughing uncontrollably and not really remembering why Cappuccinos and Amaretti Singing in a choir again for the first time since High School Surprise birthday dinner for my friend and seeing her completely shocked French lavender candles – Skyping with friends The first signs of Autumn in the park Unexpected late Birthday presents…loose leaf Sencha and Oolong tea which smells divine! Salted Caramel and Rose Macaroons Walking for hours and getting lost, but not really caring Peaceful nights sleep at the Casa Caburlotto and waking up early (something I don’t find comes naturally!) Late night walks to buy chocolates in Venice Singing and dancing around my apartment to 60’s and Motown music…The Shangri-las, The Shirelles,  Procul Harum, (which my love for, is thanks to my Dad! It was all we ever listened to in the car when I was little!)

One of our favourites…

Have a great week everyone!

Anna

 

 

 

Il Campanile di San Marco

One of the things I highly recommend when visiting Venice, is to go up to the top of the Campanile di San Marco.  The bell tower standing opposite the Basilica in Piazza San Marco, began its’ life as a watchtower in the 9th Century and was transformed into a bell tower in the 12th century. Other the years, it has suffered various forms of damage from lightning and earthquakes, including a fire in 1489, which seriously damaged its wooden spire. The bell tower took on the form we recognise now, only in the 16th century.

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Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture from further away! So you can’t see the very top of the tower!

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The amazing Iron gates of the bell tower, with the Palazzo Ducale in the background.

It features a solid square brick tower, topped by the belfry which houses five bells, on top of which is a cube, with alternate faces showing the Lion of St Marc and La Giustizia, a female representation of Venice. On top of the cube is a pyramidal spire, with a gilded statue of the Archangel Gabriel holding a lily, completing the tower.  The tower stands at 98.6 metres (323 ft) tall and is 12 metres (39 ft) wide. There is a lift which takes you to the bells and the viewing platform. There you have 360 degree views of Venice!

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The five bells of the Campanile, each had a different purpose!

The five bells of the Campanile, were each rung to mark different occasions, although all were tuned to the Scale of A.  The largest Marangona, was rung to mark the beginning and end of the working day; the Nona, sounded at midday; the Trotteria, called members of the Maggior Consiglio to council meetings, the Mezza Terza, signalled a session of the Senate and the Renghiera or Maleficio, announced executions!

After the tower had taken on its final form (between 1511 and 1514) it stood proudly in the square and became a landmark of Venice. However, on the morning of July 14th 1902, cracks started to appear in the bell tower, which quickly spread and before long the tower had crumbled to the floor, leaving only a pile of rubble! The way the tower fell caused very little damage to any other buildings in its vicinity, and I read that the only fatality was the caretakers cat! Poor thing!  The Campile, which had become a landmark of the city and known world over, was rebuilt in less than a decade to its original design, height and width and was reopened on the 12th April 1912, supposedly exactly one thousand years after the foundations of the original tower had been laid!

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This plaque commemorates how Galileo Galilei demonstrated his telescope to the Duke of Venice Antonio Priuli on the 21st of August 1609.

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Here you can see the Duke’s Palace to the right and the top of the Basilica di San Marco on the left.

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Piazza San Marco – which was slightly flooded when we visited!

The views from the top are magnificent and truly worth the queues! Wrap up warm though…as it gets really quite windy up there!! And make sure you don’t forget your camera!

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Here we are looking very happy to be re-united in Venice – just slightly windswept and cold!!

Anna

A Weekend in Venice

I consider myself very lucky that I have been able to visit Venice on a number of occasions, a few times just for the day and a couple of times for the weekend! But I find that every time I go, I discover something new and find beauty and magic in the city. Whether it be visiting the Basilica, stumbling upon a second hand bookshop – stuffed to the brim with quirky and unusual books or going for a Venetian Rowing lesson, there is always some new adventure to be had or something to be experienced.

Last weekend was no exception! I met my friend on the Saturday at Casa Caburlotto, a Convent situated very close to the main railway station, where we would be staying. The convent is run by the Suore Figlie di San Giuseppe del Caburlotto and we had found it on the website Monastery Stays, which my father has seen written about in the Guardian and suggested we checked out.  Expecting all the properties to be completely booked up at such short notice, we were pleasantly surprised to find that Casa Caburlotto had availability!  Monastery Stays, may not be for everyone, but I found it perfect for our weekend in Venice. The rooms were very simple, but extremely clean, with excellent, friendly staff and the  breakfast was typical of Italian hotels -croissants, cereal, bread, cake, yoghurt, coffee and juices! There was a small chapel and a pretty inner courtyard.  It was only half an hour walk to Piazza San Marco, which was great as we didn’t have to take any water taxis or ferry’s the whole weekend! The only thing is there was a curfew of midnight, but for us that was fine, as we were exhausted from all the walking – after which, I slept so well! It was very peaceful at the Convent and had a lovely calm atmosphere!

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Casa Caburlotto, built in the 17th Century – the congregation was established in 1850 and founded by Monsignor Luigi Caburlotto.

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The building had really interesting heads on the exterior…all slightly weird and wonderful!

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The garden area was very tranquil and tended to by the Nuns. I wish I had taken more pictures inside the Convent, but you can check some more out on the Monastery Stays website.

Saturday we spent wandering around Venice, getting lost and discovering tiny streets and pretty bridges, as well as amazing macaroon and chocolate shops!  We ate extremely well over the weekend and found on both the Saturday and Sunday, lovely restaurants filled with Italians (which is always a good sign) away from the main tourist areas. On Sunday we went up the Campanile di San Marco for some amazing photo opportunities and visited the Ca’Rezzonico, a museum of 18th Century Venice, set in a beautiful palace with some of the most incredible chandeliers I have ever seen! I will be sharing photos from both of these later in the month, as well as my top tips for visiting the city!

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The houses in Venice have strange and intriguing door knockers! Keep an eye out for them…I have spotted all sorts, heads, lions…

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This boat yard was opposite a great place we found for a glass of prosecco and crostini, which are pieces of bread topped with delicious things, such as aubergine and smoked cheese, pesto with mozzerella and tomato or smocked mackerel! It was packed with Venetians and was super cheap, I’m talking €2.50 a glass of prosecco! Look out for Osteria Alsquero!

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Have you visited Venice? Did you discover any hidden gems?  What did you think about the city? I would love to hear!

Anna

 

Meet me in Venice…

How can you refuse when a friend asks you to meet them in Venice? You simply cannot and so I find myself heading there for the weekend, rather spontaneously! We decided I think on Sunday evening! My friend, whom I lived with whilst at University, is living in Dubai, but has popped over to Europe for the week and as our meet ups are now spread so far apart from one another, they are even more special! So I am super excited!

This will be my second trip to the city this year, as I went to meet another friend from University there in March, when we ended up going for a Venetian Rowing lesson which you can read about here and I attended a talk by Art Historian and presenter of the BBC’s Italy Unpacked Andrew Graham-Dixon. The talk you can also read about here.

I am not sure what we have planned for this weekend, but I am sure we will end up having an adventure or two! The first, shall be finding one another…I don’t think I have ever visited Venice, without getting a little lost!

I am looking forward to my train journey as I can read some more of Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend, which is the first book I am reading for my Read Around the World feature! More to come on that soon, but you can read my first post here and I am still looking for suggestions of other books, from each country around the world! So let me know if you have any!

For now, I must pack, as I am prone to leaving things to the last minute! Only thing is, I am at a loss as to what to take! This week has been a disaster weather wise, Wednesday was 13 degrees, stormy and rainy (I even wore wellies!), Thursday and Friday 23 degrees and sunny! It makes my head spin all this weather changing…but the forecast says it should be nice, so fingers crossed!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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A picture I took of San Marco from the water taxi back in March

Anna

Sun, Sea and Sand!

It’s that time of year again, when the majority of Italians head to the coast for weeks of relaxation and sun worshipping! Of course at the first sign of the sun they instantly transform into beautiful sun-kissed people with flawless tans! You rarely see an Italian with dodgy tan lines or streaky fake tan! For the rest of us mere mortals (i.e. English rose complexion) we have to put in some serious effort, so my best friend and I headed to the beach for a week of sun, sea and sand! It also marked the end of the school year and for both of us our first year in business – so the perfect excuse for a little break!

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We headed to Viareggio in Northern Tuscany, a small but rather charming little town on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. We had little else on our agenda except for spending the day on the beach and going for long dinners in the evenings and walks on the beach (a perfect romantic week really – except with my best friend rather than a boy! haha!!)

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We stayed in a lovely little hotel right on the beach front, with very friendly and helpful staff and managed to move rooms on the second night so we had a beach view! The beach mainly consists of private beaches, but it is worth paying for their facilities, as they have bathrooms, hot showers and some have swimming pools and bars! Plus you get an umbrella and sun loungers! Somehow we managed to convince them to give us two sun loungers whilst everyone else on our beach only had one (including families!) so we were feeling rather lucky and slightly smug!  Taking turns to lie on one, would not have been fun!

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Viareggio

There were lots of great restaurants in the town, serving of course fresh seafood, so every evening we had a feast of sword fish, crab, prawns, tuna and all sorts of delicious food!

The sea was beautiful to swim in and very refreshing, however, it was teeming with jelly fish and so we had to constantly be on jelly fish watch! Also there were numerous crabs on the seabed and on the last morning, one nipped me right on my big toe! I was not impressed!

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We returned to Milan tanned (and a little sunburnt), relaxed and ready for the summer! However we are in a sort of heat wave in the city at the moment and I would do anything to be back at the beach, but alas work is calling me! Three more weeks though and I will be on holiday back in sunny (haha) England!

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Anna