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Category: Venice

The Redentore Feast in Venice

The Redentore Feast (Redeemer’s Feast) is a traditional feast of Venice: it is celebrated on the third Sunday of July and it is certainly deeply felt by the Venetians.

The Saturday before the third Sunday of July a long votive bridge of boats is opened on the Giudecca Canal connecting the island with the Zattere, thus allowing people to reach the Redentore Church.

 

The Redeemer’s Day is the event that celebrates the building of the Redentore Church by order of the Venetian Senate in 1576 as an ex-vote for the liberation of the city from the plague of 1575. The terrible plague caused the death of more than 50,000 people in just two years.

At the end of the plague, in July 1577, it was decided to celebrate every year the liberation from the plague with a votive deck being set up.

This celebration has become over time a tradition very much felt by the Venetians and it is still very much alive – and it is very healthy, indeed – after almost five centuries.

 

 

The festival is famous (also called “la notte famosissima – the very famous night”) especially for the wonderful fireworks show (“i foghi – the fires”) that takes place the night between Saturday and Sunday on the San Marco basin, which for the occasion is closed to normal navigation and welcomes the boats of the many Venetians who pour into the dock to eat, drink, dance and spend a night together.

 

Scala Contarini del Bovolo (Bovolo staircase)

Contarini del Bovolo Palace is a late Gothic building in San Marco district, near Campo Manin, overlooking the San Luca Canal.

The Palace, built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, was the home of the Contarini family of St. Peternian.

In 1499 Pietro Contarini, Marco Contarini and Giovanni Battista Contarini, senators of the Serenissima Republic of Venice, added the famous spiral staircase (“bovolo” means spiral in venetian): from that moment on the staircase gave its name not only to the palace but to the whole family, who was nicknamed Contarini “dal Bovolo”.

The staircase represents a perfect synthesis of different styles, with its Renaissance elements, the typical construction technique of Gothic style and the Venetian-Byzantine shape.

 

Initially the staircase had the only purpose of decorating the interior facade of the palace, to enhance the prestige and the popularity of the family.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century the palace was purchased by Emery company. The company rented the palace to Arnoldo Marseille, who opened the hotel called “Maltese” in 1803, and that’s why the court of the palace is called “corte del Maltese” (Maltese court).

In 1859, from the lookout tower Wilhem Tempel, a German lithographer and amateur in astronomy, discovered a comet bearing its name.

The current owner placed in the back courtyard an important collection of venetian water wells, which frame the facade of the most imposing and prestigious spiral staircase in Venice.

From the mid-nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, the history of the Palace is linked to the events of assistance in Venice, until it becomes the headquarter of the IRE (Institution of Hospitality and Education), which administers the old people’s homes around the city.

 

Click here to see the watercolor “Scala Contarini del Bovolo (Bovolo staircase)” >

Sources
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Contarini_del_Bovolo
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contarini#Contarini_dal_Bovolo
http://www.scalacontarinidelbovolo.com
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Wilhelm_Tempel

Vogalonga 2017 – 43rd edition

Only three days to the 43rd edition of the Vogalonga here in Venice!

Vogalonga is a rowing regatta in the Italian city of Venice.

On November 11th, 1974 a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, had a race. They came up with an idea of non-competitive “race” in which any kind of rowing boat could participate, in the spirit of historical festivities. The first Vogalonga began the next year with the message to protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the swell damage they do to the historic city.

Participants gather in St Marks Basin in front of the ducal palace. The racecourse is scenic route 30 kilometers long along the various Venetian canals and historical buildings, and reach islands like Sant’Erasmo, Burano and Murano.

At the this first edition there were about 1.500 riders.

The following editions Vogalonga gradually increased consensus and participation, reaching over 8,000 members this year (absolute record), with regattas coming from around the world and with all kinds of rowing boats.

Each participant receives a commemorative medal and a certificate of participation.

Thanks to www.vogalonga.com

Festa della Sensa – Feast of the Ascension

Next Sunday it’s going to be the Feast of the Sensa here in Venice, and we’re going to celebrate this very special day. I’m going to tell you a couple of things about this venetian tradition.

The “Festa della Sensa” (Feast of the Sensa – in Italian “Ascension”) was a feast of the Republic of Venice, which coincided with the day of Ascension of Christ, the last chapter of his earthly life when, 40 days after his death and resurrection, he ascended to heaven his body to join his father.

The Sensa Feast commemorated two important events for the Republic of Venice.

The first being May 9, 1000, when the Doge Pietro II Orseolo rescued the denizens of Dalmatia imperiled by the Slavs. The aforementioned date marked the onset of Venetian extension in the Adriatic.

The second event is related to the peace treaty that doge Sebastiano Ziani, Pope Alexander lll and Emperor Federico Barbarossa in 1177 agreed to the Treaty of Venice which ended the long standing differences between the Pontificate and the Holy Roman Empire.

On the occasion of the Feast of the Sensa was held the ceremony of the Marriage of the Sea (in italian, Sposalizio del Mare), a ceremony symbolizing the maritime rule of Venice and its intimate relationship with the sea. Originally, there was a solemn procession of boats, guided by the Doge’s ship (from 1253 Bucintoro, the Venetian Venus Galea) coming out of the lagoon through the harbor entrance of Lido.

 
When the procession arrived in front of the church of San Nicolò, patron saint of the sailors, a prayer was prayed for calm and peaceful sea for all sailors. Finally, the doge and the other officians were aspersed with the holy water; the rest of the holy water was poured into the sea.

Every year the doge dropped a consecrated ring into the sea reciting: “We marry you, sea. In a sign of true and perpetual domination” (“Desponsamus te, mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii..”) declaring Venice and the sea indissolubly united, reiterating the possession of the Adriatic Sea.

According to the legend on which the myth of Venice is based, in 1177 Pope Alexander III would have conferred a character of sacredness on this ancient ceremony

The rites of the atonement of the sins to the sea date back to antiquity, like the one told by Herodotus, where Policrate, Samo’s tyrant, casts a precious ring into the sea to appease the gods, or like the one of Empress Sant’Elena, who casted a nail of the True Cross into the Adriatic Sea to ingratiate the winds.

According to various archaeological studies, the Venetian “Marriage of the sea” and the ceremony of the ring comes from an ancient pagan ritual that later the Church endorsed.

Since 1965, the city of Venice, on the occasion of the Ascension Day, organizes a story reminiscent of the ancient Marriage of the Sea.

The Mayor of the City of Venice presides over the ceremony on board of the “bissona” Serenissima, a special Venetian-style boat, characterized by rich decorations and thrust by eight rowers. After reaching the harbor entrance close to the church of San Nicolò del Lido, along with a boat parade, he throws the ring blessed by the patriarch of Venice into the sea.

The ceremony is accompanied by regattas where old traditional customs are worn.

Every year the city of Venice re-launches this celebration, which revives the millennial history of the Serenissima, its intimate relationship with the sea and the practice of Voga alla Veneta.

Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) in Torcello

Torcello is one of the oldest islands of the Venetian lagoon, north of Burano, in the middle of a salt marsh zone (clay soil lying areas which are periodically flooded by tides and which are fundamental for the health of the lagoon).

Torcello was very prosperous and densely populated since the first centuries of the Roman Empire, and it began its decline from the fifteenth century because of climate changes and continuous plagues, and also because of the predominance of Venice.

One of the two bridges of Torcello is the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge), that crosses the Maggiore Canal, the waterway that connects the historic center of Torcello with the lagoon. It goes back to the fifteenth century but recent archaeological investigations have established that its foundations are grafted onto pre-existing foundations, dated thirteenth century.

The origin of the name is uncertain. Some say that “Diavoli” (Devils) was the nickname of a local family who gave the bridge its name; other say the name comes from a legend about a Venetian girl, a witch and an Austrian soldier.

The legend says that the girl falls in love with a young officer during the Austrian invasion, but the union was disliked by her family, who send her away. One day the girl hears the news that the young lover has been murdered.

The girl returns to Venice and meets a witch, with whom she enters into a pact with the devil: the young Austrian in exchange for the souls of seven died prematurely Christians children.

The site of the exchange would be the Devil’s Bridge.


The two women reach the island and the girl crosses the bridge with a candle and a golden coin while the witch invokes the devil. The devil, as soon as he sees the girl, spits the key of space and time into the water taking the gold coin, making the young Austrian appear at the other side of the bridge.

The second half of the pact had to be the delivery of the seven souls on the Devil’s Bridge, scheduled for December 24th, but the witch was murdered before the exchange by a young man who wanted to save the souls of children.

Legend has it that from that December 24th onwards, every year the devil appears on the Devil’s Bridge to get his payment, in the form of a black cat.

The main feature of the Devil’s Bridge is its shape without railings, typical of the Venetian ancient bridges, and together with the Ponte Chiodo (Nail’s Bridge) in Cannaregio, it is the only one to preserve the ancient form.

Palazzo Dario, the cursed palace

A horrible fate has combined the stories of the owners of this beautiful building, so as to define it “cursed”.

Palazzo Dario (known as Ca’ Dario) is a palace overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.

It was built by Giovanni Dario, fascinated by the places and the enchanting landscape.

In 1479 Marietta, Giovanni’s daughter, committed suicide because of the economic failure of her husband Vincenzo Barbaro, who died stabbed. Even their son suffered a violent death, in fact he died in an ambush in Crete. These three deaths caused a sensation among the Venetians, who anagrammtized the inscription on the facade, turning “VRBIS GENIO IOANNES DARIVS” into “SVB RVINA INSIDIOSA GENERO“ (in Latin, “I generate under an insidious ruin”).

The descendants of the Barbaro family sold the villa to Arbit Abdoll, an Armenian merchant of precious stones, who ended up in ruins shortly after taking possession of the dwelling.

The Englishman Radon Brown met his fate in 1838 when he became the new owner of Ca’ Dario. In only four years he suffered a financial meltdown and his homosexual relationship was discovered: the scandal engulfed him so much that in 1842 he committed suicide in the palace together with his partner.

Fared no better the American Charles Briggs, who had to flee from Venice because of the continuous rumors about his homosexuality: he fled to Mexico, where his lover committed suicide.

In the early ‘900 Ca’ Dario hosted the French poet Henri de Regnier; but a serious illness struck the writer, so he couldn’t come back to Venice anymore.

For decades the building was empty, until 1964 when the tenor Mario del Monaco began the negotiations to buy the property. But the artist, on his way to Venice to finalize the details of the contract, was involved in a serious car accident that forced him to a long rehabilitation and made him decide to give up the purchase.

A few years later Ca’ Dario was bought by Count Filippo Giordano delle Lanze from Turin, who was killed inside the building in 1970 by a Croatian sailor named Raul Blasich, with whom he had a relationship. Blasich then fled to London, where he was murdered.

The palace was later bought by Kit Lambert, manager of the rock band The Who, who died a very short time later in London falling down stairs. Although he claims not to believe in the curse, Lambert had told some friends to sleep in the nearby Hotel Gritti gondoliers kiosk to “escape the ghosts that haunted him in the Palace”.

Fabrizio Ferrari, a venetian businessman, bought the house in the 80s and moved there with his sister Nicoletta. Ferrari did not die, but he lost all of his assets after taking possession of the building, while his sister died in a car accident without witnesses.

In the late 80s, the building was purchased by financier Raul Gardini who wanted to make a gift to his daughter. Gardini, after a series of economic setbacks and the involvement in the scandal of Tangentopoli, committed suicide in 1993 in never fully clarified circumstances.

After the death of Gardini, no one wanted to buy Ca’ Dario anymore, and the first brokerage company that had been mandated to sell surrendered and stranded down. At the end of the 90s the director and actor Woody Allen seemed willing to buy the building, but then he desisted. In 2002, a week after renting Ca’ Dario for a vacation in Venice, bass player John Entwistle died because of a heart attack.

In 2006 the property passed to an American company on behalf of an unknown buyer and it is currently being restored.

 

The Art of printing in Venice

In the 15th Century the Venetian Republic reached the height of its expansion.

No European state could or would ever again boast such a great future and such a long period of continuity.

The “Serenissima” was particularly open to all religious philosophies, provided that none of these threatened its safety.

The first printers to arrive in Venice were German, followed by French, Flemish, Dutch, Swiss, Cretian and Istrian printers and many Italians.

A large group of  “reformist Humanists” fled to Venice, and among them Aldo Manuzio (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldus_Manutius).

The freedom of the press was guaranteed and encouraged, especially since the expansion of printing had become such a good source of income in a matter of a few years. Venetian publishing not only called for collaboration, but also stimulated printers to experiment. The Senate even set down severe penalties for publishers who dared to use low-quality paper in 1537.

It is logical, therefore, to assume that authors not only saw Venice as the chance to get their works published, but also as having the facilities needed to accomodate them, plus the opportunity to discuss and compare their individual experiences.

Nearly 200 printing presses were operating in Venice towards the end of the 15th Century (1488).

The Art of printing was officially recognized in Venice on September 18th, 1469- the day the Senate recognized that Johann von Speyer had introduced and developed the art in Venice.

The “Scuola dei Stampatori e Libreri” always met at the Dominican monastery of Santi Giovanni e Paolo (the current hospital).

The cultural climate enjoyed by printers in Venice was that of a city ready to welcome all schools of thought and trends, filtering these and turning them into its own peculiar heritage. A real university was never established in Venice. Numerous cultural centres existed, however, such as the circle of the Greek scholar Giovanni Lascaris and the Rialto and San Marco schools holding classes in moral philosophy and rhetoric (only open to the noblility).

There were important centres for intellectual discussion with splendid libraries attached to them in the monasteries of the churches of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Santo Stefano, S. Francesco della Vigna, San Michele in Isola and Sant’Antonio in Castello.

 

ALDO MANUZIO AND HIS TRADEMARK

Aldo Manuzio was not just a printer, but an actual publisher. An extraordinarily erudite man, he helped preserve many texts and guaranteed excellent results.

The printer’s early headquarters were in Calle del Pistor, number 2343, near Campo Sant’Agostin; he moved his operations to Calle San Paterniano near what is now Campo Manin in 1508.

As a printer, he published the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili in 1499 for the publisher Leonardo Crassus in Verona.

He was also famed for having invented his own type, possibly with the help of the philosopher Friar Luca Pacioli and the designer Francesco Griffo of Bologna.

Manuzio’s books were held in great regard and received numerous awards throughout Europe, but suffered precisely for this reason from imitation and counterfeiting by other publishers, especially in Florence and Lyon.

His printing house became a true literary circle. Manuzio was aware of his great responsibility: he summoned the most outstanding humanists of the time in Italy to act as correctors (not just translators and editors of drafts, but proper editors and editorial consultants).

Also his choice of paper -produced by the Fabriano papermill (the best on the market), format 32 x 42 cm- led to surprising result. When folded in half, he got the “folio” (32 x 21 cm), in four the “quarto” (16 x 21 cm), in three the “octavo” (10.5 x 16 cm). Manuzio designed and started using the “octave” with great commercial success: in other words, he had already invented the paperback (pocket book or “encheridio”) in the early 16th Century.

In May 1502 Manuzio founded an academy, the “Neacademia dei filelleni”, or Aldina Academy. He encouraged business relationships, collaboration and friendship with the best minds of the time, and he was a very prolific publisher.

Thanks to his expertise, talent and skill, the Senate appointed Manuzio as the official printer of the Venetian Republic on November 14th, 1502, having been sponsored by Marin Sanudo il Giovane (1466-1536).

It is unanimously accepted that his trademark (an anchor and a dolphin) refers to the motto “Festina lente” (more haste, less speed) attributed by Suetonius to Octavian Augustus.

Thanks to Franco Filippi

Source: The Art of printing in Venice by Franco Filippi (http://www.venicethefuture.com/schede/uk/323?aliusid=323)

Huck Scarry – Diario Veneziano

Huck Scarry (whose real name is Richard McClure Scarry) is famous Richard Scarry’s son of art (http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Scarry), a famous author and illustrator of children’s books.

Huck Scarry was born in Connecticut in 1953, and he lives and works in Vienna. After completing his studies at a school in graphics in Lausanne, he has lived in Paris, New York and Venice.

Huck”- the name that he usually uses to sign his works – is the nickname of Huckle Cat, one of the recurring characters of Busytown, an imaginary town inhabited by a variety of anthropomorphic animals described in various children’s books of the father.

When Huck works with his father’s style, he signs “Richard Scarry”.

In this article I want to talk about his book “Diario Veneziano” (Venetian Diary) realized in 1993, which contains a series of watercolors and pencil drawings of Venice, and which was -and still is- a great inspiration for my work.

The book was created by collecting pencil sketches and watercolor paintings produced along the streets and the canals of the famous lagoon city, as just he says in the introduction of the book: “Whenever I could, I took my box of colors, my sketchbook and my folding chair and I went to paint through the streets of Venice and on the lagoon. The drawings filled my clipboard and became the beginning of my Venetian diary … ”

The watercolors which you can see in this wonderful collection are light and fast, yet accurate and fine workmanship, and carry us into the magic of a city among the most mysterious yet still narrated for the multiplicity of its faces.

The artist’s eye captures new mysteries even when he observes known and overexploited by the “postcards” of Venice subjects, through a different point of view, giving new life to inanimate objects which seem to breathe in the suffused pastel colors, the play of lights and shadows on the chipped walls and on the old marbles, in the multi-colored reflections of the world on the ancient water of Venice.

Another important part of this book are the drawings in graphite, extremely light but with a strong character, so simple and yet perfect in telling the strong complexity of Venetian architecture, its bridges, chimneys and wells.

I highly recommend this book to all those who love art and good artists, to those who love Venice even without knowing it, and those who, like me, loves, knows and lives every day the most beautiful city of all.

To conclude, I really hope that among all the people who every day stop for streets and squares to portray glimpses and views of Venice, there should be someone who will give us another book beautiful like this.

 

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Scarry

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Scarry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busytown

Introduction: “Diario Veneziano”, Huck Scarry, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore 1993

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