Thursday, 10 March 2011

Veneto - Se vedemo!

Wow - can't believe it's time to say goodbye to the Veneto already!  I don't feel like I've even scratched the surface with the learning this small corner of Europe has to offer.  For the record, I had intended to write further blogs on the famous Benetton group of Treviso, on architecture and Venetian art.  I also intended to write about a book I read called Miss Garnet's Angel but, alas, time has been my enemy in the last few weeks. 

As well as all the books I've read, films I've watched and food that I've cooked, I also learned the following interesting facts about the Veneto:

That Venice is traditionally divided into six areas, called sestieri.  Many Venetians can no longer afford to live in the city, but live across the lagoon in the industrial mainland town, Mestre.

That the famous architect Palladio, who designed villas for the wealthy elite of the Venetian Republic, was born in Padua and published a seminal study of architecture called Quattro Libri dell'Architettura or 'Four books of architecture'. 

Canaletto's The Grand Canal and the Church of the Salute

I learned about the local legend that gondoliers are born with webbed feet and about the old witch Befania, who brings presents to children on January 6, rather than at Christmas, when she's too busy cleaning her house. 

I learned about La Sensa, the League of Cambrai and Catallus, the love-poet who was born in Verona.

I learned that Dante was welcomed in Verona, after his exile from Florence and that Galileo was a professor at Padua university. 

I learned about St Barbara, the patron saint of soldiers and about Elena Piscopia, the first woman to be awarded a PhD.  I also watched a movie called Dangerous Beauty about the famous Venetian courtesan, Veronica Franco.  I learned about Ruskin's book, The Stones of Venice and that the Dolomites were named after the French geologist, Deodat Dolomieu.

Giorgione's La Tempesta

I learned about the Russians of Venice; Turgenev, Diaghilev and Stravinsky.  I learned how the Venetian Lido has been replicated the world over. I learned about the Caffe Florian and the five bells of the Campinile, including the malefico which was tolled on days when an execution would take place.

I learned about the Bridge of Sighs, so called because it was crossed by offenders on their way to the State Prosecutors.  I learned about the Bocca di Leone and La Fenice

I discovered Giorgioni's evocative painting, The Tempest and the wonderful Venetian art that is to be found in the National Gallery here in London.  I learned about Tintoretto and Tiepolo, Carpaccio and Canaletto.  I learned about the Hotel Danieli and the tilting campanile of San Giorgio dei Greci. 

One of the best-known musical acts to come out of the Veneto in recent years is DB Boulevard with their lead singer Moony aka Monica Bragato.  They had a massive hit with Point of View in 2002.  But they sing in English, so I want to leave you with a clip from Youtube by another Italian band, although they're not Venetian, I found myself listening to this song over and over again, as I was writing and researching for this blog.  The song is called Estate 'Summer' and the band is called Negramaro.  They remind me of an Italian Keane and I hope you enjoy this song as much as I have!

Next up, W . . .

Image credits:

The image of the flag of Veneto was provided copyright-free on Wikimedia, the original image having been supplied by wikuser Vajotwo with this derived version being added by wikiuser Flanker - you can see a more detailed description of this image at

Giorgione's La Tempesta now hangs in the famous Venetian art gallery, L'Accademia and Canaletto's The Grand Canal and Chirch of the Salute now hangs in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. 

Both paintings are in the public domain and copyright-free. 
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