Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Venice Day 4: Art and opera

Today was our last sightseeing day in Venice and I had planned for us to visit the Frari Church and Scuola Grande di San Rocco.  The weather today started out overcast and dreary with rain in the forecast.  It matched my mood--I was a sad that our time in Venice was coming to an end...  But mostly it was a pretty day.

The hubby was not sure he wanted to spend time in museums and churches but b-i-l and I insisted and he later agreed that these were outstanding sights.

We left the apartment and made our way to the Frari Church which was really close to the apartment.  Just to the left of the church b-i-l spotted a small shop with tapestries and pillows in the window.  We went in and bought way too much stuff--it was all so lovely.  The proprietor said the shop has been in his family since the 1920's.

Then into the Frari Church (small fee).  We used the Rick Steves guide to tour the church and we all loved it, especially the spectacular altar painting by Titian ("The Assumption of the Virgin") which we sat looking at for a long time.  Hubby ended up buying the print of this image and we have it framed in our house now. 

A wedding procession started while we were looking at the Titian.  The tourists watched the bride go into the small chapel accompanied by her crying mother.  Once they were settled, the church attendants opened up the back of the chapel and we went in to see the beautiful Bellini painting,  "Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels.  What a lovely place to get married!

Frari Church; Titian's masterpiece is in the background

We left and made our way to the close-by Scuola Grande di San Rocco.  We paid the fee and referred to the provided map which along with the Rick Steves guide tour provided good information about the outstanding art by Tintoretto, who dedicated 20 years of his life to this place.  The art is very impressive although I found it dark.  In one room they had a small fragment of how the originals looked--bright and colorful.  Time really does no one and nothing any favors! But, more importantly, these masterpieces survived for us to enjoy today.

After our tour of the Scuola, we decided against any more museums or sights. We needed to do a little shopping! B-i-l wanted to get us a doorknocker for our house and we all wanted that "special" souvenir to remember this fabulous trip and city.

We had fun taking the Traghetto across the Grand Canal to a small shop, not far from La Fenice, that sold brass doorknockers and other items. My limited Italian came in really handy and we bought too much stuff, all of it fabulous! The clerk gave us a note card and bookmark as lagniappe, which was very nice. We decided to have a hearty late lunch and chose a restaurant nearby. It was leisurely and lovely.

On the traghetto--fun and easy!


After some more wandering and shopping, we figured out what time we needed to catch the vaporetto in the morning to transfer to the Alilaguna to the airport. Our vaporetto passes expired this day at 430pm. That is when we realized we should have purchased the 7 day passes since we would be taking the vaporetto to/from the opera and again in the morning from San Toma to San Angelo to catch the Alilaguna. Live and Learn! We ended up getting a 24 hour pass (and were glad we did because they checked for tickets on the next morning's ride; one guy ran away instead of paying the fine).

We went back to the apartment to pack before the Opera. We took the vaporetto across the Grand Canal in the pouring rain. B-i-l, being the nice person he is, shared his umbrella with an older lady who was also on the way to the opera. She turned out to be a former Russian instructor at Tulane University in New Orleans who retired to Venice. Small world! Her friend in the orchestra gave her a ticket to the performance (right next to the stage, nice!).

I had been to the Munich StaatsOper and did not like sitting in the box along the side of the U shapped theatre because of the awkward viewing angle. That's why, when I bought the tickets for La Fenice online, I chose seats that were centered on the stage. Ours were on the top level. They were pricey at 66Euro per person.

Well, I was quite disappointed in the seats. Yes, we were centered on the stage but were right behind the stage lights, which impeded our view of the stage. And because of the beautiful chandelier, we couldn't see the English translation of the opera. It was also very (very) warm on this level.

At any rate, the theatre is gorgeous and we (mostly) enjoyed the performance of La Boheme. Hubby said he was ready to leave within a few minutes of it starting, but by the end of the second half kinda liked it, haha. I hope to have an opportunity to see another performance at La Fenice in the future.

View from our seats
Our very high up view of the stage

The stage lights impeded our view
We couldn't see the English  libretto because of the gorgeous chandelier

Hubby and b-i-l in our seats, taken from a side box
It's a gorgeous theatre

Performers taking their bows

We went back to "our" bar for a last nightcap and calls home and thus ended our last night in lovely Venice!

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