Friday, September 22, 2017

Treasures of Ca' Rezzonico

Ca' Rezzonico, a Baroque palazzo on the Grand Canal, is famous as Venice's museum of 18th century interior design, paintings and furnishings.
 Visitors enter into the grandest room in the palace. The magnificent ballroom rises two stories and stretches across the width of the huge building.
Above our heads we found a fresco by Giambattista Crosato

 spilling down the wall is the coat of arms of the Rezzonico family.
All around the room we found period furniture and life-sized trompe-d'oeil frescos that increase the size of the already huge room.
 The palazzo is also an advertisement for the joy of Murano glass
 in the form of spectacular chandeliers.
Experienced travellers to Venice will carry with them an unbreakable hand mirror to aid in appreciating the spectacular frescos throughout the palace like this one by Giambattista Tiepolo. We did not have such mirrors and our necks were soon in revolt.
 Keep your eyes open. Delightful details abound.
Like many traditional Venetian venues, the Rezzonico has been incorporating temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Here is an installation of marble blocks and carving tools by Marizia Migliora.
We were interested to find one of the few Canaletto paintings left in Venice (most of the rest are in England). 
Canaletto (1697-1768). The Grand Canal from Ca' Balbi towards Rialto (detail).
Period rooms are one of the most popular features of the palace. This is the Green Lacquer Room with Chinoiserie or Chinese-inspired decorations. It was moved here from a palace in the Cannaregio neighbourhood.
A detail of the green lacquer furniture. 
 The rooms are fitted out with Baroque period furniture and art. We were thrilled to find a whole room full of Pietro Longhi's paintings of 18th century Venetian life. Wallpaper fans will find much to inspire them.
 Pietro Longhi (1701-1785). Colloquio fra baute.
 OK. Now it is time for what is now our favourite part of the museum. We knew the Rezzonico had a collection of paintings by Giandomenico Tiepolo but what astonished us were these paintings and frescos which he had done for his own home.
Life sized figures illustrating a scene from Tasso's epic poem Jerusalem Delivered -- "Rinaldo Abandoning the Garden of Armida".
 We love with these elegant fresco figures.
Portrait of the family greyhound.
 More life sized figures. Something magical and mysterious about these.
How about these grisaille frescoes -- Bacchanal with Satyrs.
We worked our way through the museum from the ground floor up. When we got to the top floor we found a huge collection of paintings. Were were already exhausted and could not give them proper attention. Tip: Take the elevator to the top floor and work down.
The Pinacoteca Egidio Martini contains mostly minor work (in our not very expert judgment) but there are delights. Detail from a Madonna with Child by Boccaccio Boccaccino (1466-1525) 
 Lovely View of Rome from the Pincio by Ippolito Caffi (1809-1866).
The windows of the top floor gallery are covered in curtains. Have an occasional peak outside. The views are spectacular (Chiesa San Barnaba and its canal).

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Birthday in Venice

I woke up this morning to find that Bill had painted a birthday card for me.
 Love it! And look at that lion! Now when did he find the time to paint this?
 What a great card. What a way to start a day!
We had noon reservations at our new favourite restaurant -- the Enoteca Rio San Marin. It was raining in Venice but soon we were settled in to the cozy place.
The staff were kept busy as the restaurant filled up. The Enoteca is so popular that every table had been reserved.
When Alessandra brought our menus I opened mine to find a birthday card inside, signed by all the staff. What a lovely gesture! Shows you what a special place this is.
We ordered the house risotto and as it is made to order, started with green salads and a litre of wine.
I watched the street traffic through the window. Everything in Venice arrives on a hand-drawn cart and must be delivered rain or shine.
Alessandra brought us the seafood risotto -- the aroma was amazing as she put down the plates. Full of little shrimps and diced seafood, it was divine.
When we finished and had ordered dessert, the lights went out. Power failure? Bill drew my attention to the back of the restaurant. Alessandra was bringing out a plate of tiramisu with a single candle. She sang "Happy Birthday to you..." and the staff and all of the customers joined in. How embarassing!
 I made a birthday wish and blew out the candle on my tiramasu to general applause.
 What a place!
I dug in to my cake while admiring Bill's dessert -- a specialty of the house -- grappa gelato. 
 Birthdays don't get much better than this.
And partners don't get much better than William Kimber. Thank you, Sweetheart!
Bill and I went to the kitchen to offer our compliments to the chef for his risotto. Turns out it was his birthday today too.
As we drank our coffee I reflected on my many blessings. Lucky me!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Lunch at Enoteca Rio Marin

 Bill and I discovered the Enoteca Rio Marin by chance one afternoon in the Santa Croce area of Venice.
It is well known in it's neighbourhood as a reliable family-run restaurant and bar
with great cicchetti (bar finger food).
It is very near two must-sees on even the shortest art lovers itinerary -- Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (Titian) and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco (Tintoretto).
Bill ordered one of his favourite comfort foods -- Fegato alla Veneziana (liver and onions with polenta) and told me this was the best he has ever had.
 I decided to try the Spaghetti Cozze e Vongole (mussels and clams).
The chef had been very generous with the shellfish.
 I put in my fork and in the depths of the spaghetti hit shell after shell. 
 We went back a few days later. We were lucky to get a seat. Turns out the locals reserve and the place is packed for the noon to 3 p.m. lunch service. We both started with the mussels and clams then had a refreshing salad of bitter greens and tomatoes.
We followed up with a dish we had seen served on our last visit -- a mixed fry of seafood, lightly coated in flour.
 So yummy!
 We dug right in, washing it down with white wine and bubbly water
finishing with the house tiramasu 
and espresso. 
We were the last ones to leave. As we said arrivederci the friendly staff were already unwinding with a drink by the canal.