Sunday, April 27, 2008

In Venezia X

Another beautiful day in Venezia. We lazed around a bit this morning, taking advantage of the absence of our gatti, the pests, Ping and Ryman, who usually force one of us from bed by 6:30 so they can begin one of three highlights of their day--eating, sleeping, and eating again. We fought through the crowds in what Donna Leon calls The Devil's Triangle of Venezia--that area bounded by the Accademia and Rialto bridges and St. Mark's Piazza--to the Giardini Bienalle. The city park was built on drained wetlands when Napoleon ruled Venezia. I guess he wanted to see a tree and have some shade. A holiday weekend plus the normal tourist crowd (estimated at 40 million per year, that's 110,000 per day in a city of 60,000 residents--like a million a day would be in Portland, all on foot) made the going slow. It's clear that the Venetians don't know much about caring for grass. They also don't seem to care about maintaining the park that houses 30 or more permanent buildings where on odd numbered years, countries of the world exhibit the art of their nations.

The place is a wreck. Trash abounds. Buildings are in disrepair (Scandanavian countries to the left). It's overgrown and a warren of trails leading who-knows-where. The Hungarian building, featuring a very nice roof and some mosiacs, seemed the best. Built in 1957, likely as a "told-you-so" to the world, it's clearly the class act currently. The building of Great Britain is also looking pretty good. Canada, right next door, appropriately enough (though Quebec didn't seem to have their own building), features a tree growing through the roof (on purpose). The US building is about a half-scale Monticello. Germany is under construction. Russia, built in 1914, is back to being Russia. Inquiring minds want to know if the grounds look better in the odd years or if they just go with the art inside the buildings. Googled, but didn't find, pictures of the grounds. Biggest surprise? Plenty of graffiti, but none on the US building.

Hungarian mosaic (left) and Canadian tree (right, eh). But it's not a sugar maple or even a Manitoba maple. What would the lads up the line say to that eh?

On the way back, I shot some bytes of a street vendor's relaxed dog, a tireless violinist (she's been playing every day in St. Mark's since we got here), an attractive sandwich, and some masonry as part of my forthcoming "Masonry in Venezia" series.

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