Street Art / Venetian Stylin’ #3

The rats are not only in the canals–they’ve also infiltrated the art scene.

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Where Am I?

I haven’t posted one of these in a long time! But this past August I found myself inside a gorgeous building. Can you guess where I am?

The view from the terrace
The view out the window of the sitting room
View from the top of the stairs overlooking the garden.
View from the garden.
Interior sitting room.
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Dear Venice, Wish You Were Here #15

Most of my postcards are quite old, but this one is more recent (in comparison to the others). 1981 doesn’t seem that long ago to me because I was a teenager then! But to many people I guess it’s still vintage! (What does that say about me??)

The photo quality certainly looks more like the ’70s or ’80s. You can see from the banner hanging on the Rialto Bridge that the Palazzo Ducale was showing an exhibit of Venetian “vedutisti” or landscape painters. I always choose postcards that include gondolas. I wonder if any of the gondoliers pictured here are still alive? The guy on the right looks a little like one of the gondoliers I know, but maybe it’s his father!

I asked a couple of my students from Germany to help me decipher and translate the writing on the back. We believe it says “Aus Jesolo senden liebe” or “From Iesolo sending love.” The next bit is near inscrutable. What do you all make of it?

For the postscript, my students thought it said, in translation, “My card from Paris in May …something something… Here there are many nice people.” “Menschen” is underlined. Is there a secret meaning there? Maybe the sender met a particularly nice man? I can’t make out who the sender is, so it’s hard to make sense of the message let alone any coded message!

This postcard went to Vienna, Austria, to the Family of E. Dobner on Anzengruber strasse 54. According to Google, this is what the place looks like.

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In Casanova’s Footsteps: Rome–Palazzo Frascara

Image of the Palazzo Frascara from Google maps

When Casanova returned to Rome in 1760, he found his brother Giovanni living there and studying under the painter Rafael Mengs. Giovanni took him to visit old friends from his first trip to Rome, and introduced him to new people as well. “My brother then took me to call on Signora Cherufini, and this time I enter a house of the highest fashion,” Casanova wrote. “He introduces me, the lady receives me in the Roman manner, I find her charming and her daughters even more so; but their swains of every description are too numerous, there is a glitter which annoys me, and the young ladies, one of whom was as pretty as a Cupid, seem too polite to everyone. I am asked an interesting question, I reply in a manner which should inspire a second, and I am not asked it. I do not care. I see that in this house I should lose something of my intrinsic value, and that the reason for it was the rank of the person who had brought me there.”

Clearly this visit, though at such a fashionable and noble house, was not sitting well with Casanova; he didn’t feel he was being accorded the respect he deserved.

He continued, “I hear an abate saying to another who is looking at me: ‘He is Casanova’s brother.’ I tell him he should have said it was Casanova who was my brother, and he replies that it makes no difference. An abate says that it does make a difference, we talk, and we become good friends. It was the celebrated Abate Winckelmann, who twelve years later was murdered in Trieste” (Vol. 7, Ch. 8, p. 181).

Portrait of Winkelmann by Mengs (Wikipedia)

So the visit was not a waste, considering that Casanova met Johann Winkelmann, known for his important work on ancient art, including the book The History of Art in Antiquity. Winkelmann, born in Germany, came to Rome and, though some claimed he was pagan, he joined the Catholic Church. He gained access to papal libraries, which aided his research. Winkelmann was friends with Raphael Mengs, and there is an infamous tale of a fresco painted by either Mengs or Giovanni Casanova, meant to deceive Winkelmann, that caused a lot of grief for all three of them, particularly Giovanni. But our man Giacomo enjoyed Winkelmann’s company and also remarks on his murder in Trieste in 1768.

Casanova was also introduced to Cardinal Albani, who, upon learning that Casanova was the man who had famously escaped the Leads in Venice, Casanova added, “he is amazed that I have the effrontery to come to Rome, where at the least request from the Venetian State Inquisitors an ordine santissimo would oblige me to leave” (182). Casanova felt insulted and jibed back at the Cardinal, leaving soon after this exchange. “I never again set foot in the Casa Cherufini,” he declared.

Countess Francesca Cherufini (née Gherardi) (1709 – 1778) hosted a literary salon, “among the most brilliant literary and social functions in Rome,” Willard Trask tells us (Vol. 7, Ch. 8, note 43). These soirees also included musical entertainments. Though she was married to Count Ranuccio Cherufini (or Cheruffini, depending on the source), at this time the Countess was the mistress of Cardinal Alessandro Albani. The daughters that Casanova mentions were Vittoria and Maddalena Cherufini; according to Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century, these two daughters were fathered by Albani (not the Countess’ husband) and Albani was also their godfather.

The Countess lived at Piazza Pilotta 3, currently home to the Pontificia Università Gregoriana, which hosts a Gregorian choir as well. Trask writes that her home was known as the Palazzo Frascara (or Palazzo Ciogni Frascara); “Frascara” is engraved above the doors.

Below: from Art in Rome in the 18th century, p. 92, a few more details about the Countess.

(Research from Casanova’s History of My Life, edited by Willard Trask, Vol. 7, Ch. 8. Images from Google Maps and support provided by Adriano Contini. Additional research from Art in Rome in the 18th Century.)

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When Venice Lives: It Looks Like This–Venezia Stampa

The entrance to Venezia Stampa. Notice that it’s two steps down, which led to worse flooding in 2019.

Inspired by Monica Cesarato’s Live in Venice Week last May, when I went to Venice in August I sought out a number of the artisans that she and her team interviewed. After watching this interview video, I found my way to Venezia Stampa, located in Campo Santa Maria Mater Domini. The shop is run by Luca Valonta and Michele Costantini who have resurrected vintage printing presses to carry on Venice’s rich tradition of printing since Aldus Manutius ran the Aldine Press in the 1400s.

Michele Costantini has been working in printing for 31 years, though he has a diploma as a Tour Operator and also studied piano at the Venice Conservatory. At Venezia Stampa, he deals with pre-press, editing, graphics, digital printing, administration, and many other tasks that arise. He was born in the Castello sestiere at Campo Ruga but now lives in Quarto d’Altino due to the high cost of living in Venice, though, as he says, “Thanks to my work in Venice I always see it and live it.”

Luca Valonta grew up on the Lido with his family and father who was a typographer, passing down his knowledge to Luca when he was quite young. Michele adds, “Luca’s father taught us a lot and we will always be grateful to him.” Luca has been working as a printer and typographer for 42 years. In 1989, Luca and Michele founded Venezia Stampa when they both still lived in Venice. Luca especially loves working with lead or wood movable type doing letterpress printing. Together their skills complement each other and offer customers a full range of printing options.

Enjoy getting to know more about Michele and Venezia Stampa from this interview. Thank you to Luisella Romeo for translation help.

These wonderful “ex libris” cards feature dozens of occupations that used to be common in Venice. (I bought two sets!)

When Venice lives fully as itself, what does it look like?

It is not always easy for Venice to fully experience itself. Fifty years ago, before the advent of mass tourism and the free and wild creation of shops and small shops with cheap goods, the city could count on many neighborhood activities, from the bakery to the butcher, from the foodstuff to the green grocer, from the haberdasher to…  It was a Venice first of all for the Venetians who lived it fully. Venice should be first of all for those Venetians who love it. So the ideal aspect is, for example, that of the Rialto market that lived and prospered for all citizens and visitors or that of the Redentore festival on a boat as we are still trying to do (excluding this bad period of Covid and the variants). Perhaps Venice is fully itself in November, during the Feast of the Madonna della Salute, still very much felt by the Venetians who pay homage and feel like a community in the process.

Bookmarks, posters, and more prints to choose from, all printed on site.

How does your work preserve the culture or history of Venice?

We are lucky to have a job that dates back centuries. The press and Venice have gone hand in hand for hundreds of years and contribute to maintaining culture, curiosity, despite all the difficulties involved. Nowadays, printing as it once was done is snubbed by many, who prefer speed and digital quality (albeit excellent) to slowness and artistic passion with its strengths and weaknesses. We try with very old printing presses to preserve the history of printing and the old printing methods even at the expense of our earnings.

These colorful cards show classic images from Venice.

What are one or two aspects of the culture of Venice that you prefer?

The internationality of Venice leads art to want to exhibit itself in this wonderful living room. Just think of the countless exhibitions or the Biennale d’Arte, but also the palaces or churches steeped in knowledge and which inevitably lead to being curious and interested. In short, as in many other historic cities, even in Venice it is enough to move around as a visitor to find unlimited cultural features.

Which Venetians (living now or in the past) are you inspired by?

I can’t say I’m inspired by any Venetian in particular. I was just born and raised in Venice by a Venetian father.

Luca shows me the cabinet filled with letters for creating type.

What is your favorite place in Venice to be alone? To share with others? That nobody should miss?

The first place is undoubtedly the Grand Canal to be crossed by boat or even vaporetto but only at night, with the lights that illuminate the buildings and the absolute quiet as well as the almost still water. And this applies to the first and third questions also.

To answer the second question, to share with others, I would say be on a boat, in the lagoon, in the company of friends and loved ones and with good food and wine!

If you could ask visitors to Venice to do a thing or two to be better visitors, what would you ask?

I would ask first of all what some are already putting into practice: respect. For the Venetians, for the people, for the workers of the city, for the monuments, in the streets, in the campi (small squares). I would ask precisely not to behave as mere tourists, but as visitors.

A variety of artwork prints are available at the shop. I also loved the fun presentation using a vintage scale.

Here is the interview with Venezia Stampa presented in Italian.

Quando Venezia vive pienamente come se stessa, che aspetto ha?

Non è sempre facile per Venezia vivere pienamente se stessa. Cinquant’anni fa, prima dell’avvento del turismo di massa e della creazione libera e selvaggia di negozi e negozietti di merce scadente, la città poteva contare su moltissime attività di vicinato, dal panificio alla macelleria, dal biavarol (alimentarista) al fruttivendolo, dal merciaio al… Era una Venezia prima di tutto per i Veneziani che la vivevano pienamente. Venezia dovrebbe essere prima di tutti di quei Veneziani che la amano.

Quindi l’aspetto ideale è quello per esempio del mercato di Rialto che vivesse e prosperasse per tutti i cittadini e visitatori o quello della festa del Redentore in barca come si tenta di fare ancora (escluso questo brutto periodo del Covid e i divieti var)i.

Forse Venezia è pienamente se stessa in novembre, durante la Festa della Madonna della Salute, ancora moto sentita dai Veneziani che in processo rendono omaggio e si sentono comunità.

A detail from one of the vintage Heidelberg printing presses.

In che modo il tuo lavoro preserva la cultura o la storia di Venezia?

Noi siamo fortunati a svolgere un lavoro che risale a secoli fa. La stampa e Venezia vanno a braccetto da centinaia di anni e contribuiscono a mantenere la cultura, la curiosità, pur con tutte le difficoltà del caso. Ai giorni nostri la stampa come si faceva una volta viene snobbata da molti, che preferiscono velocità e qualità digitale (seppur ottima) a lentezza e passione artistica con i suoi pregi e difetti.

Noi tentiamo con le nostre vecchissime macchine da stampa di preservare la storia della stampa e i vecchi metodi di stampa anche a discapito dei nostri guadagni.

Quali sono uno o due aspetti della cultura di Venezia che preferisci?

L’internazionalità di Venezia porta l’arte a volersi esibire in questo meraviglioso salotto.

Basti pensar alle innumerevoli mostre o alla Biennale d’Arte, ma anche ai Palazzi o chiese intrisi di conoscenza e che portano ad essere per forza curiosi e interessati. Insomma, come in tante altre città storiche, anche a Venezia basta muoversi da visitatori per trovare aspetti culturali illimitati.

Luca with another Heidelberg printing press.

A quali veneziani (viventi ora o nel passato) ti ispiri?

Io non posso dire di ispirarmi a qualche veneziano in particolare, sono solo nato e cresciuto a Venezia da un padre veneziano.

Qual è il tuo posto preferito a Venezia per stare da solo? Da condividere con gli altri? Che nessuno dovrebbe mancare?

Il primo posto senza dubbio è il Canal Grande da solcare in barca o anche vaporetto ma esclusivamente a notte fonda, con le luci che illuminano i palazzi e la quiete assoluta nonché l’acqua quasi ferma. E questo vale per la prima e terza domanda.

Per rispondere alla seconda, direi in barca, in laguna, in compagnia di amici e cari e di buon cibo e vino!

Se potessi chiedere ai visitatori di Venezia di fare una o due cose per essere visitatori migliori, cosa chiederesti?

Chiederei prima di tutto quello che alcuni già mettono in pratica: il rispetto. Per i Veneziani, per le persone, per i lavoratori della città, per i monumenti, nelle calli, nei campi. Chiederei appunto di non comportarsi da semplici turisti, ma appunto da Visitatori.

Plates used in the printing process.
More stamps, all made by hand.
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Google Earth Flies Again!

If you enjoyed the Google Earth flight over Venice that took you to Casanova sites, you’ll be thrilled to learn that I have another Google Earth flight to share with you. Shawn Von Ins created another trip through Venice’s streets–and her history–by linking all the sites related to the women of A Beautiful Woman in Venice. Click on the link here.

The first stop takes you to the campo in front of the Salute church where I share the story of Maria Boscola, the badass rower who won 5 flags in a span of 40 years–while also having six children! I chose that site because of the painting by Gabriel Bella showing the regatta that likely features Maria in the lead. For my video, YouTube chose a silly thumbnail photo of me shrugging, and the Google image of the site shows a gorgeous bride dressed in her white finery. What a great start!

You’ll get to see sites all over Venice–in front of churches and palaces, and even inside a few of them, such as the house of Maria Querini Benzon. Then you get to fly to Murano to see sites connected to glassmakers Hermonia Vivarini and Marietta Barovier before flying finally to Burano to see a street named for Cencia Scarpariola and hearing the story of how she helped save the lace industry.

Huge thanks to Shawn for stitching all this together. It’s a real treat to see Venice this way and revisit the stories of these Beautiful Women.

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Autumn With An Author: Kathleen Gonzalez

Grazie mille to Valentina Cirasola for interviewing me for her blog! She created such interesting questions with ideas I hadn’t pondered before. I hope you’ll also check out her blog and books and find more to love about Italy and Venice.

Valentina Expressions

I have loved Venice since the beginning of my time, in fact, with all the lives I lived, I know to have been there in the 1700s, therefore anyone who writes about Venice becomes my hero instantly. I met author Kathleen Gonzalez from San Jose, CA, many years ago though the Little Italy organization I am a member of. Her writing about Venice takes me back to so many familiar places, emotions and experiences. I will let her tell the story.

Kathleen Gonzalez – Photo credit: Marie Ohanesian Nardin

  1. Your latest novel “A Beautiful Woman In Venice” portraysVenetian women from the Middle Ages to the end of the Republic. Previously you wrote other books about Venice. Where did the love of Venice come from?

I first fell in love with Venice when I visited it with my students in 1996. Within minutes of seeing the Grand Canal and the palaces…

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Gondola Stuff: Puzzle Gondola

Isn’t it adorable? I bought this little gondola this summer at Signor Blum’s at Campo San Barnaba. They come in many colors and are all made by hand. I don’t really understand how the pieces fit so snugly together–How do they cut them??

I’m hoping to post an interview with the owners of Signor Blum in the coming months and will share more photos of their goods.

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Street Art / Venetian Stylin’ #2

Northern Cannaregio. I think it was just off the Misericordia.

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When Venice Lives: It Looks Like This–Carteria Ai Frari

Elisabetta and I, sans masks, outside her shop, Carteria Ai Frari

Elisabetta Casaburi, owner of Carterìa Ai Frari, is an artisan who upholds Venice’s longstanding tradition of making paper. After graduating from the Venice School of Art and attending literature courses at Ca’ Foscari, she worked as an advertising and editorial graphic artist. In 2008 Elisabetta decided to put in her shop everything she has loved and learned to do in the course of her life. She is a paper craftsman, and each of her productions, from the travel notebook to the photo album, “has the intention of collecting the past as a bridge to the future,” she says.

Elisabetta was born in Venice and lives there now with her husband and daughter. I met her in August, seeking her out after I saw her video on Live in Venice Week, organized by Sofa Tours and Monica Cesarato. In the video, Elisabetta shows viewers around her shop and describes her process for making paper and fashioning it into her products: journals, cards, gift wrap, pens, plus other goods made of leather, such as keychains and bracelets. She even makes wedding invitations and other cards to order.

I spent a delightful time with her, enjoying her warmth and her obvious passion for all things paper. She shared with me the difficulties of trying to work during the pandemic, when business came to a standstill and even Venetians weren’t shopping in her store. She also lost nearly everything during the November 2019 flood; even though she lives nearby, she couldn’t reach her store quickly enough to save it. But she has persevered!

If you visit her shop, you’ll be impressed with the wide variety of arts she has conquered and offers to you. I couldn’t resist purchasing a few goodies for myself (and as gifts), and Elisabetta, generous to the core, gifted me one of her journals as well. When I return to Venice, I’ll be stopping by again!

Enjoy this interview where you can get to know Elisabetta a bit better.

I got to take home one of these gorgeous journals–of course, the one with the ferro on it!

When Venice lives most fully as itself, what does it look like?

Venice is a collection of islands, it has lived and lives on the sea. Its horizon has always moved; it has grown and then returned. Its ability to adapt has brought it here today. Venice is made of reflective lights, silences broken by bells, seagulls, steps from work and the voices of those who live there and pass by. Venice is not one, it is what it represents for each of us.

How do you or your work bring life to Venice? What gift do you bring?

I am a craftsman. The artisans built Venice, as the names of many calli say, but over time the population has decreased and the number of tourists has increased and this has changed the work. To satisfy the demand of this new audience, the work has been transformed. Before, a craftsman built useful and beautiful objects; now he pours the idea of ​​what has been into small objects that are easy to transport. Bringing home a piece of Venice is what the tourist asks for, and the resilience of many artisans remains in making all their knowledge small and light so that it can fit in a suitcase. In Venice there was the lowest rate of illiteracy thanks to the need to trade and communicate with people from all over the world. The paper I deal with was the indispensable support for recording any type of exchange. The production of paper did not take place in the city itself but in the inland territories that the Serenissima governed, where it brought distant knowledge to produce paper on its own. There was a lot of demand for paper of all kinds. Paper has changed the world if you think about it; computers or e-mails will not supplant it. The need moves the mind, and the hands satisfy it. You have to write, to remember, to bind, to keep together, to keep for the future–this is what I try to do in my small shop.  

Some of the many papers Elisabetta offers, including methods from Japan, Nepal, and African nations.

How does your work preserve Venice’s culture or history?

In my work I always try to bring a little of the past and a little of the present. The future is written by those who buy a notebook and fill it in.

What are one or two aspects of Venice’s culture that are your favorites?

Venice has always been welcoming as shown by the various Fondachi. I love the balance established in the exchange between give and take. We were Venetians first then Christians, meaning humans; it was a way of saying that did not define birth but a sense of belonging to a truly special place.

Which Venetians (living now or in the past) inspire you?

Many Venetians made this city great; good government (for those times) made it possible for many great people to settle here, making it even greater. It would be difficult to name just one, but the traveler Marco Polo made sure that the story of his life reached us; Marin Sanudo with his “Diaries;” Aldo Manuzio printer; but also great women like Elena Lucrezia Cornaro (Corner, born in 1646, theologian), the first woman to graduate in the world (in philosophy in Padua , “forced” nun); Rosalba Carriera, portrait painter and musician of extraordinary artistic talent (born in 1673, miniaturist on snuffbox); Elisabetta Caminer, shrewd journalist and columnist of her time (born in 1751, she founded the encyclopedic newspaper).

The leather notebooks make my hands ache to hold them.

What is your favorite place in Venice to be alone? To share with others? That no one should miss?

A place that I find fantastic is Punta della Dogana. You arrive and you can only stop to admire the meeting of the Grand Canal with the Giudecca Canal. A place to share, perhaps a rowing boat ride to enjoy a different point of view of the city and appreciate every hard-earned moment of rowing. Finally, a place that should not be missed: a view from the rooftops or from a bell tower. So three points of view: from the ground, from the water, from the sky.

If you could ask visitors to Venice to do one or two things to be better visitors, what would you ask for?

Respect, for oneself and for others, would be enough. For me, the best way is to mirror into each other, asking these questions: What am I looking for and what am I leaving?

Elisabetta shows off the exquisite details of her work.

And here is her interview in the original Italian. Elisabetta was very patient with me as I spoke Italian with her! Thank you to Luisella Romeo for translation help.

Quando Venezia vive pienamente come se stessa, che aspetto ha?

Venezia è un insieme di isole, ha vissuto e vive di mare.

Il suo orizzonte si è sempre spostato arricchito per poi tornare.

La sua capacità di adattarsi l’ha portata sin qui oggi.

Venezia è fatta di luci di riflessi, silenzi rotti dalle campane dai gabbiani dai passi dal lavoro e le voci di chi la vive e passa.

Venezia non è una è ciò che rappresenta per ognuno di noi.

Elisabetta shows off the transparency of her paper.

In che modo Lei o il suo lavoro portate la vita a Venezia? Che regalo porta?

Io sono un artigiano. Gli artigiani hanno costruito Venezia, lo dicono i nomi di tante calli, ma nel tempo è calata la popolazione e sono aumentati i turisti e questo ha modificato il lavoro.

Per accontentare la domanda di questo nuovo pubblico il lavoro si è trasformato.

Prima un artigiano costruiva oggetti utili e belli, ora riversa in piccoli oggetti facili da trasportare, l’idea di quel ch’è stato.

Portare a casa un pezzetto di Venezia è quel che il turista chiede e la resilienza di tanti artigiani resta nel far piccolo e leggero tutto il suo sapere perché possa stare in una valigia.

A Venezia c’era il minor tasso di analfabetismo grazie al bisogno di far scambi commerciali e comunicare con le genti di tutto il mondo, la carta di cui mi occupo era il supporto indispensabile per registrare ogni tipo di scambio. La produzione della carta non avveniva proprio in città ma nei territori dell’entroterra che la Serenissima governava a cui portava saperi lontani per produrre in proprio.

C’era tanta richiesta di carta di tutti i tipi. La carta ha cambiato il mondo se ci si riflette, non saranno il computer o le mail a soppiantarla.

Il bisogno muove le mente e le mani l’accontentano.

Bisogna scrivere, per ricordare, rilegare, per tenere insieme, conservare per il futuro, è questo che cerco di fare nella mia piccola bottega.

In che modo il suo lavoro preserva la cultura o la storia di Venezia?

Nel mio lavoro cerco sempre di portare un po’ del passato e un po’ del presente, il futuro lo scrive chi ha comprato un taccuino e lo riempie.

Quali sono uno o due aspetti della cultura di Venezia che preferisce?

Venezia è sempre stata accogliente lo dimostrano i vari Fondachi, adoro l’equilibrio stabilito nello scambio tra dare e avere.

Si è prima veneziani che cristiani, era un modo di dire che non definiva la nascita ma un senso di appartenenza a un posto davvero speciale.

An example of a commissioned card.

A quali veneziani (viventi ora o nel passato) si ispira?

Tanti i veneziani che con lungimiranza hanno fatto grande questa città, il buon governo (per quei tempi) ha fatto sì che tanti grandi personaggi vi si stabilissero facendola ancora più grande, sarebbe difficile dirne solo uno, ma il viaggiatore Marco Polo ha fatto in modo che giungesse a noi il racconto della sua vita, Marin Sanudo con i suoi “Diarii”, Aldo Manuzio stampatore, ma anche grandi donne come Elena Lucrezia Cornaro (Corner, nata nel1646, teologa) la prima donna laureata del mondo (in filosofia a Padova, monaca “forzata”), Rosalba Carriera ritrattista e musicista di straordinario talento artistico (nata nel 1673, miniaturista su tabacchiere), Elisabetta Caminer, sagace giornalista e opinionista dei suoi tempi (nata nel 1751, fondò il giornale enciclopedico).

 Qual è il suo posto preferito a Venezia per stare da solo? Da condividere con gli altri? Che nessuno dovrebbe mancare?

Un posto che trovo fantastico è punta della Dogana, arrivi e non puoi che fermarti ad ammirare l’incontro del Canal Grande con il Canale della Giudecca. Un posto da condividere, forse un giro in barca a remi per gustare un punto di vista della città diverso e apprezzare ogni momento guadagnato a fatica di remo. Infine un posto che non si dovrebbe mancare: una veduta dai tetti o da un campanile. Quindi tre punti di vista: da terra, da acqua, da cielo.

Se potessi chiedere ai visitatori di Venezia di fare una o due cose per essere visitatori migliori, cosa chiederesti?

Basterebbe il rispetto, per sé e per gli altri.

Per me il modo migliore è specchiarsi nell’altro, facendosi queste domande: cosa cerco e cosa lascio.

Pens, ink pots, wax seals–all can be found at Carteria ai Frari

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