Friday, 17 February 2017

Venice: Accademia to San Giorgio Maggiore

The Doge's Palace and San Marco campanile from San Giorgio Maggiore

Today's walk is derived from one in our walk book with some extra bits. It was cold and grey so we decided to start with a focused visit to the wonderful Accademia art gallery. It was a bit disorientating at first as there had been a major rearrangement since our last visit, but we soon found the 14th and 15th century masterpieces we wanted to see, notably Giorgone's The Tempest and one of the best of Bellini's Madonnas. However, the two most dramatic pictures we saw were a Madonna del Parto by an unknown Master (we saw Piero della Francesco's famous one at Monterchi a few years back) ...

... and San Crisogono (c 1375-1410) by Michele Giambono, a painter we had never previously heard of.

The inspiration for today's walk was Andrea Palladio, the great architect whose buildings we explored on a past holiday in the Veneto. One wing of the Academia complex is by Palladio and here is a view through a reasonably clean window - you can't unfortunately get out into the courtyard.

We headed along Rio Tera Antoniao Foscarini (Rio Tera denotes a canal which has been filled in to create a wide path) to reach the Fondamente Zattere, where we turned left to photograph Palladio's great church of the Redentore on the opposite side of the Guideca Canal. The church was the result of a vow to honour Christ the Redeemer made by the Venetian Senate in 1576 at the height of an outbreak of plague which killed 30% of the population.

We took the vaporetto across the canal and began the route from our walk book, turning right to reach the odd-looking, and much altered, church of Sant' Eufemia.

There was a nice view along the adjacent canal canal, reminiscent of those on the outlying islands of Burano or Murano.

We turned left and were passing the former convent of Santi Cosima e Damiano when we noticed an open door. It was undistinguished from the outside and has now been converted into apartments, but inside there was a quite beautiful cloister - a quintessentially Venetian moment.

We returned to the Fondamenta San Giacomo to soon reach the the Ponte Lungo with a fine view down its canal.

Not long after this we reached the Redentore for a close up of the facade.

 The interior was simple but impressive.

We continued along the Fondamenta to reach the Zitelle vaporetto stop where we made the short hop avross the Guiudeca canal to San Giorgio. From the boat there were nice, but misty, views across to the Dogana and Santa Maria della Salute. The facade of San Giorgio, also by Palladio, is similar to his later church of the Redentore but more monumental. The church was begun in 1566, but the facade was not erected until 1607-11, 25 years after Palladio's death. It was however precisely as he designed it.

The interior is quite austere, but grand.

 We headed towards the campanile, noting this lovely sculpture of an angel on the way.

The views from the top were most enjoyable, even if constrained by the mist. Perhaps the best were down to the cloisters ...

... and over the dome towards the Dogana (Customs House).

Back at ground level, and after a restorative grappa, there was a lovely view of one of the two lighthouses across the Basino of San Marco.

One final vaporetto took us across the Basino of San Marco and we couldn't resist a tourist shot of the celebrated Bridge of Sighs which linked the Doge's Palace to his prison.

Conditions: cold and grey.

Distance: about 3 miles.

From: Venice. History. Mystery. Walks (AA publications).

Rating: Five stars.

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