What’s up? The ceiling.

March 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

I wrote this post last night but WordPress wasn’t working and I couldn’t post it. As such, I am posting it town albeit it refers to March 22nd. An entry about today will be up later!

Another busy (and sunny) day here today. I actually got up at a reasonable hour (8:30am!) and we had a quick breakfast and then took the bus into Venice, where we met one of Valentina’s friends. Of course, this meeting consisted of eating, as well as drinking white wine (at 10:30am, which is apparently typical of Italy?). I was going to get a tramezzino, which is a Venetian sandwich on triangular, crustless white bread, but all of them had mayonnaise, which is basically the bane of my existence…

We then walked to Fondazione Musei Civici Venecia, which is located in the Doge’s palace: this huge building that used to be home to the Doge of Venice, and it connected to the Basilica di San Marco, which you may remember from two days ago. (The palace also contained rooms for political proceedings, and even prisons.)

A little history lesson for you, courtesey of Wikipedia:

The Doge was the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice for over a thousand years. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy. Commonly the person selected as Doge was the shrewdest elder in the city.

So basically imagine a huge, huge building, with each room more extravagant and ornate than the next. Of course pictures were not allowed, so here’s what I of course took anyway:

These first pictures are of the golden staircase, which leads up to the second floor.

All the rooms had the most amazing ceilings I’ve ever seen. These pictures don’t do it justice. There were these huge, elaborate paintings set in huge, elaborate gold frames. Truly breathtaking. My favorite room is pictured below. According to about.com (don’t you love my sources), the room is called “The Sala del Consiglio dei Dieci:

The Council of Ten was a spy service set up in 1310 after it was learned that Doge Falier was conspiring to overthrow the government. The Council met in this separate room in order to keep track of the other branches of government (by reading incoming and outgoing mail, for example). Veronese’s work decorates the ceiling and there is a large painting of “Neptune Bestowing Gifts upon Venice” by Tiepolo.

There were some huge rooms that I also did not get pictures of. This one room (which is apparently the widest room in the world without columns, as I learned from Valentina’s dad), has huge murals all around. On the top of the wall, stretching all around the room like a border, are paintings of the faces of all the Doges. However, apparently, one of the Doges was treasonous so he was beheaded, and his face is painted over with a black curtain. I wish I had gotten a picture of this room because it was so amazing, but you will just have to trust me that it was.

Some other ceilings in the palace (sorry for the bad quality, they had to be taken surreptitiously):

We then took a short walk and sat outside in the sun (lovely) and then went to lunch (of course). Valentina knew of this place that was inexpensive and popular with the working crowd, so we went there and both had risotto and I had my second espresso of my life. (It was way stronger than yesterday and luckily they gave us a small chocolate for afterward, which I used to kill the taste.)

We then walked over to a museum which, unfortunately, was closed on Tuesdays, so we walked around some shops instead and then went into another church Basilica S. Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari. Queue wikipedia:

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari, is a church in Venice, northern Italy. One of the greatest churches in the city, it has the status of a minor basilica. It stands on the Campo dei Frari at the heart of the San Polo district. The church is dedicated to the Assumption.

When you think things can’t get any grander, they do. The inside of this church is seriously astounding. The ceilings are at least 5 stories high, and every wall has a different sculpture that spans all five stories. No joke.

There is also this huge pyramid tomb of the composer Monteverdi.

After that excursion, we went to Valentina’s favorite gelato place, where I had the best gelato ever. This sounds gross, but I got a ricotta gelato that had pistacio chunks in it, and pistacio gelato. (Valentina got candied chestnut flavor and one other I can’t remember.) I know what you’re thinking: “Cheese gelato?” But it was super amazingly delicious.

Finally, we headed back to Valentina’s house. We are going to take a boat tour of some of the other islands tomorrow, so we needed to go to the store to get stuff for sandwiches to bring along. So we went to the store and to the deli counter, and there were the most delicious looking balls of smoked cheese, with this golden smoked exterior. So I ask Valentina if it would be weird to get just one ball (cannot recount this story without it sounding dirty, sorry), and she says no, and she will get one also. Then she reconsiders, and says she will get some for us to eat tomorrow at lunch as well. So she asks for six balls total. We each eat one in the store, and it is so delicious… One isn’t enough to satiate us, of course, so then we each have another… and well, you aren’t going to pack just two balls for a whole lunch, so by the time we got through the checkout isle, we had eaten all six of them! (Never worry, the price was stamped on the container so of course we still paid.) Was pretty funny and now we have vowed to go exercise tomorrow, because the amount of food we are consuming is seriously insane. And insanely delicious.

OK, apparently I always have to end on a food related note. Goodnight!

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