Saturday, October 31, 2009

Notable Venetians

You can never see Venice too often. This was either my third or fourth visit, and the place continues to exert its fascination, despite construction around the Campanile marring some of the beauty of Piazza San Marco. (And not all of the milling tourists are gorgeous to look at.) I did learn that practically no one in Europe seems to be wearing jean jackets anymore—jeans, yes—and I may have to put my beloved Gap number, which has seen me through many travels, out to pasture. On my last day there, I had three projects: to take the tour of Teatro La Fenice, the fabled opera house; to take a boat ride through the canals, and to have a drink at the Caffè Florian. I managed only the third of these, as the Teatro was closed, probably due to the running of the Venice Marathon, though it didn't pass by the opera house; and some of the boat landings were closed, also owing to the marathon.

Florian, though picturesque, isn't that great, but I had to go there. They even have their own Web site:

And it's as good a spot as any to watch the passing parade.

Among legions of notable Venetians—especially, of course, great artists—are Marco Polo (though some claim that he was born in Croatia); Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646–1678), the first woman college graduate ("la prima donna laureata nel mondo"); and, of course, Antonio Vivaldi, the Red Priest ("il prete rosso"). He was, like many from this area, a redhead, not a communist.

And Venice is wall-to-wall Vivaldi. The little bands and orchestras in Piazza San Marco seem to be stuck on The Four Seasons, which they mix with rock and show tunes and the Toreador Song, among other selections. Some fellow travelers and I also attended a concert by the Interpreti Veneziani at the deconsecrated church of San Vidal, where, naturalmente, Le Quattro Stagioni was also performed. And with more energy than I've ever heard, even if it was not note-perfect. The mostly young musicians raced down the church aisles to take their places and played with enough verve to dispel the notion that they could probably play this delightful set of violin concertos in their sleep. There are far worse fates than all-Vivaldi all the time.

No comments: