This morning I awoke earlier than Mandy again, and took a long morning walk by myself to buy Italian bakery treats again at the marvelous, previously-discovered bakery, Pasticceria Tonolo in the San Polo siestre (district), only 3 minutes by foot from our apartment in the Ca’ Badoer deiBarbacani. Then on to the fashionable San Marco siestre (district – the siestre San Marco includes St. Mark’s Basilica, as well as the island home of the San Giorgio Magiore church, across the Bacino di San Marco from St. Mark’s), across the Ponte di Rialto bridge over the Canalé Grandé to the post office to mail postcards, gifts and letters and on to another well-stocked art supply store.
We enjoyed our bakery treats together back at the apartment in a leisurely fashion. From the apartment, we cut north through our San Polo siestre (district)’s San Polo Square, heading back towards Venice’s main Stazzione Santa Lucia and the vaporetto (water bus) stop at the head of the Canalé Grandé. We took the main line under the new Santiago Calatrava Ponte della Costituzione bridge at the train station, heading straight down the Canalé Grandé, bound for the San Zaccaria vaporetto station on the other side of the Palazzo Ducalé.
We soon passed the Guggenheim Collection, Peggy Guggenheim’s former mansion, a low-slung palazzo on the Canalé Grandé – a building strange in Venice for its lowness. We then passed what European travel guru Rick Steves calls the “Catholic wedding cake church,” Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. “The church makes good on an official appeal by the Venetian Senate directly to the Madonna in 1630, after 80,000 Venetians had been killed by (the black) plague. The Senate promised the Madonna a church in exchange for her intervention on behalf of Venice – no expense or effort spared.” (courtesy, Lonely Planet)
After arriving at the San Zaccaria vaporetto station, we switched to a different vaporetto to cross the Bacino di San Marco to the island home of Andrea Palladio’s (considered one of the most influential architects of all time) San Giorgio Maggiore church, home to a tall campanile (bell tower) affording incredible views back to the main islands of Venice, especially the central district of San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale, Basilica di San Marco, Campanile di San Marco and the Piazza di San Marco from on high. Construction of the San Giorgio Maggiore church lasted from 1565 to 1611.
We could look out to the Adriatic Sea, far beyond the laguna surrounding Venice. When looking back across the city of Venice, I was struck by how many low buildings there were, built close-together, with the occasional bell or church tower rising above it all.
After the campanile, we strolled along the San Giorgio Maggiore island bayside promenade, observing the city through the yacht harbor.
We even saw the Palladian former monastery which now houses the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, which has even hosted a G7 Summit, and international and UNESCO conferences. On the grounds of the former monastery we also found a stunning glass museum, Le Stanze del Vetro, with a temporary art installation, the large glass sculpture ‘Qwalala,’ by Pae White outside the building.
The monastery was even home to 3 secreted inner gardens, including a beautiful, green labyrinth which we admired from atop the San Giorgio Maggiore campanile.
Also from the San Giorgio Maggiore campanile, we watched as a huge cruise ship slowly made its way down the wide Rio dei Carmini, between the Dursoduro district on one of the main islands and the Giudecca district on the outlying islands. The ship eventually made its way past the Palazzo Ducalé and the Campanile di San Marco on its way to the Adriatic.
I was overcome by the sense of what an unlikely city Venice really is – perched as it is, so ephemerally on the laguna. We rounded out this memorable day with another marvelous dinner at a true Italian trattoria. Tonight Mandy had delicious eggplant parmigiana, while I had crab gnocchi, served complete in an appetizing crab shell!