MURANO: it’s a crystalline world

(Updated December 2019)

 

Most visitors to Venice stay and explore only the Centro Storico, the historic center, divided into six districts called Sestieri, seeming to form one large island. Albeit, there are said to be a total of 120 islands in the lagoon whereas only 11 are permanently inhabited.

Italy - Murano Island - Vetreria Ducale

Some of the best places to shop for glass on Murano island: The Vetreria Ducale, adorned by a sign of Guerrieri pottery, and to the left the Ferro & Lazzarini glass factory.

The island of Murano is the third largest one – after the Centro Storico and the Lido – and actually consists of seven small islands divided by eight channels and connected by bridges.

World-famous for glass and crystal, Murano is definitely worth the short boat trip from the Fondamente Nove stop; and, while the exhibition Glasstress is on, visiting Murano’s crystalline world is indisputably a must.

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VENICE on a budget – when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more

Visiting Venice can be pretty pricey: You find yourself at one of world’s most unique places – and it comes with a price tag.

 

Italy Venice Canale Grande

Every visitor to Venice will know this sight: The Chiesa di San Simeon Piccolo across from the main train station Venezia Santa Lucia, photographed from the Ponte degli Scalzi.

 

I’ve been coming to Venice for years – at least every other year to visit the Biennale di Arte. Consequently, I’m not going there for these overpriced touristy places and services. I enjoy Venice on a budget – and believe me, I enjoy it to the max. Therefore, in this post, I’m sharing my best tips on when to go, where to stay, what to eat, and much more.

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Biennale di Arte 2019: Tips on How to Visit World’s Most Important Art Event in Venice

Venice is certainly a place worth visiting even when nothing special is on. Venice as such is special
enough.

 

Ponte dell'Accademia Venice Italy
Ponte dell’Accademia, one of only four opportunities to cross the Canale Grande walking, advertising for this year’s mega-event.

However, the Biennials are adding some contemporary suspense and glamour to all the shiny renaissance the Doges left behind, and this summer, the 58th Biennale di Arte is on.

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COMO – a Lake to Like

I love Italy: The gelato, the papagalli, the dolce far niente – somehow my head got tangled in these clichés like a fork in a heap of spaghetti.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Sail and motor boats quay at Colico, the Northernmost village on Lake Como’s shores.

Funny thing is: On my frequent trips to Bella Italia,  I often find this cliché reflected in the reality around me.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Getting to Milano overflying the Alps. Do you recognize this picture? It’s my blog’s title picture.

And it starts right in the North as soon as you cross the Alps and get to the North Italian lakes which are i. a. Lago di Orta, Lago Maggiore, Lago Lugano, Lago di Como and the largest one, Lago di Garda – listed from West to East.

Lago di Como

Me and George Clooney like Lago di Como best. He has proved his love by buying Villa Oleandra in Laglio for 10 million Dollars from John Heinz – the man who has made billions by preparing salsa from pomodori. And I prove my love by introducing this deep blue jewel to you.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Overpowered by nature: Sumptuous green mountains along deep blue waters.

All the above-quoted lakes are longish and stretch from South to North. Lake Como is different – it’s in the shape of an inverted Y, i. e. it looks like ⅄.

Although there are many charming places along the shore waiting for your visit, I’ll introduce those at the extreme points, starting with Como at the tip of the lower Western part, continuing with Bellagio at the angular point, going all the way up to the most Northern point which is beautiful Colico and returning South to the Eastern most point where the town Lecco is found.

Since you reach almost many places on the lake even by train – at least on the Western shore – in one to two hours from Milan, your stay can vary from a one-day trip to….a lifetime; but realistically speaking, depending on your plans, I’d say one week.

There are many towns and villages to be visited – given their size, the term ‘explored’ would be an exaggeration. Whereas ‘enjoying’ is exactly what you will do: Strolling along narrow streets and alleys while the tastiest ice cream is melting on your tongue, sipping one of uncountables espressi or latte macchiati in a small café, seeking some cool in one of the churches – and having the nicest view of the lakes deep blue water at every corner of the street.

 

Como

This is exactly what you can do in Como, the town that generously shares its name with the lake.

Getting to Como is really easy – there are trains from Milan almost by the hour – and they take a bit over an hour. If you just flew in, you don’t need to go downtown, you can catch the train right at the Malpensa airport’s train station (not so if you came to Linate airport, then you have to go first either downtown or to Malpensa). Check your connection and all relevant info on trenitalia’s website, it’s really good and reliable.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Looking through one of the historic center’s narrow alleys at San Fedele.

The old part of Como is on the lake and really small. I stayed at a B&B ten minutes walk East of the center which was nice since I experienced real Italian life.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Como is cute and molto italiano outside of the historic center’s limits, too.

Besides strolling and shopping and eating and drinking, you can visit smaller museums such as the Museo Civico and the Pinacoteca; I would save that for rainy days (and this is coming from me, the biggest art aficionado under the sole).

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Como’s cathedral – not as huge as the one in Milan, but for such a small town quite impressive.

There are nice buildings to be seen just walking – like the Duomo, the cathedral, the over 1000 years old church San Fedele or the over 800 years old Porta Torre, the portal on the historic quarter’s Eastside.

 

Along the Largo Gianfranco Milio towards the Porta Torre, the fortified tower, built in 1192.
(Nicolago, Comotorre, marked as public, details on Wikimedia Commons)

The most attractive attraction, of course, is the lake with its elegant promenade and the harbor where the cruise ferries are waiting for their passengers.

But before we set sail, let’s walk South along the lake where there is the Tempio Voltanio, a museum housed in a neoclassic building from 1927, dedicated to Como-born Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery.

 

Beautiful Tempio Voltanio right next to the lake.
(Photo: Daniel Case (talk), Tempo Voltiano from southwest, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Keep walking around the lake and you’ll get to the Passeggiata di Villa Olmo, a promenade between the lake and some of the most beautiful neoclassicist mansions and villas – until you get to the Queen of them all, the Villa Olmo.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Looks like a castle, but is only a Villa…..Villa Olmo.

For those less culture and arts-oriented folks,  there used to be a Lido, a public swimming pool, a few steps from the Villa Olmo. This has been closed last summer due to construction work around the villa. Now the tanners and swimmers have to go about 3 km / 2 miles further up to the Lido di Cernobbio. If you don’t feel like walking, there is the bus N6 taking you from Como to Cernobbio.

Of course, there are many different options – from a cheap B&B to a luxurious five-star hotel – to spend the night in Como. Hotel Tre Re is a good option: Close to the main pier, this building was originally a private residence of the Vitani family. Later it became a convent and was eventually transformed into an elegant yet affordable hotel.

Hotel Tre Re
Via Boldoni 20
22100 Como
Phone: + 39 – 31 – 26 53 74
Email: info@hoteltrere.com

 

Brunate

Here you see the swath in the lush vegetation where the funicular is going up from Como
to Brunate.
(Photo: Rehman Abubakr, Como-Brunate funicular – June2016, CC BY-SA 4.0)

An activity not to be missed when visiting Como is a short ride by funicular uphill to the
village of Brunate.

Not only is Brunate a very charming, picturesque village, it also grants the most breathtaking views of Como and the lake.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Chiesa Sant’ Andrea Apostolo is greeting Brunate’s visitors on their arrival.

As soon as you get off the funicular station, you’ll spot, next to many small restaurants and shops, the Chiesa Sant’ Andrea Apostolo, first mentioned in the 14th century.

To get the best view, you have to do a bit of walking, and yes, as it always is with views, it’s all uphill.

Turn right into the small path at the Hotel Vista Lago Brunate and keep walking straight up about 15 minutes till you get to Chiesa San Maurizio.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Chiesa San Maurizio right in the center of the San Maurizio neighborhood. The trail that goes up to the Faro Voltiano begins right across the parking lot.

Here you turn left and keep on walking up a forest trail till you get to the Faro Voltiano, the Voltiano tower, but more importantly to the observation deck – and at this point, I won’t disturb you any longer, but let you catch your breath after the walk – which will be taken away by the views!

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Breathtaking view from the observation deck around the Faro Voltiano on the mountains and sumptuous greenery….

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
….as well as on the lake and Tavernola village (and many, many mountains in the backdrop).

If you cannot part and want to spend the night in Brunate, the Hotel Vista Lago is your best option….I mean, the name says it all, doesn’t it?!

Hotel Vista Lago 
Via Roma 25
22034 Brunate
Phone: + 39 – 31 – 364070
Email: info@hotelvistalago.it

 

Crossing the Lake

Although you could move around in buses and on the Eastern shore even by train, one of the nicest and unmissable things to do when vacationing by a lake is – going on the lake…of course by boat.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
At the harbor of Como. Taking a ferry across the lake is certainly one of the summery highlights of a trip to lake Como.

There are various options like cruises with stops at various places (only during high season starting end of May) or trips between towns.
There is a website where you can check hours and prices: On the one hand it’s pretty informative, telling you facts about the lake’s length and depth and suggesting attractions at the different villages. On the other hand, though, it’s a bit misleading. There is for instance written that from Como to Colico, it’s four hours.
So I’ve made myself comfortable, took out my book and my phone and my water, expecting to relax for four hours on board. Well, after about two hours, the boat landed at…Colico and I had to jump and quickly pack all my stuff to hop off board before the ride continued. It took about two hours.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Taking a trip into a picture postcard.

So I suggest you use their page for getting a rough idea of where to go and what to do and once you’re there, you walk to the pier ahead of your trip and ask the people who sell the tickets what your options are; if you are in Como only for one day, you just go to the pier when you please since you won’t have too many choices, anyways. Don’t worry, you’ll certainly be able to go on a boat trip – and you won’t regret it, it’s dreamy…just ask George.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Villa del Balbianello on the lake’s Western shore, short before you get to Bellagio.

Bellagio

One of the most picturesque – and also most visited – places on the lake is Bellagio, located at the angular point of the lake’s ⅄.

 

The lakefront promenade of Bellagio, one of the most visited towns on Lake Como.
(Photo: RiccardoT, Bellagio dal traghetto – panoramio, CC BY 3.0)

 

Basilica of San Giacomo
(Photo: RaminusFalcon, ChiesaSanGiacomo, CC BY-SA 3.0)

It’s amusing and relaxing to stroll up and down the lakefront promenade or taking a drink at one of the cafés overlooking the lake – and of course, watching people walk by.

After this break, it’s time to hike up to the historic center which is located at a higher level.

Up here, the main attraction is  definitely the Romanesque Basilica Of San Giacomo.

Needless to say that at Bellagio, too, there are some ancient aristocratic villas. One of the most impressive ones is certainly Villa Serbelloni. Built as a castle, it eventually became a country residence and was transformed into a villa at the end of the 15th century. Only in the 19th century, the structures were remodeled into a hotel. Today, it also serves as a venue for conventions and study tours. Its impressive park stretches all over the town’s promontory from where you have a grand view onto the lake’s two branches.

 

Majestic Italy: Villa Serbelloni, nestled between cypresses.
(Photo: trolvag, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Como, Lombardia, Italy – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Another imposing, Neo-classical building is the Villa Melzi, built in the early 19th century for Count Francesco Melzi vice-president and Chancellor of the Kingdom of Italy.

 

Artists such as Stendhal and Liszt as well as Royalties like Francesco I and Ferdinand of Austria were guests of noble Villa Melzi.
(Photo: Paebi, Bellagio Villa Melzi, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Besides these two jewels, you shouldn’t miss the other modest housings like Villa Trivulzio, built in the 18th century and located in a grand English-style park, or Villa Trotti, built in an eclectic neo-Gothic style, adorned with Moorish decorations.
Yes, there is definitely a reason why especially during the Summer month the streets and alleys of Bellagio are pretty busy.

If you choose to stay in Bellagio overnight and just found a diamond mine then you might consider treating yourself to a night at the Villa Serbelloni.

All those who are currently not rich can stay for instance at the also very posh Hotel Du Lac, located right across the pier, overlooking the lake.

Hotel Du Lac
Piazza Mazzini 32
22021 Bellagio
Phone: + 39 – 31 – 950320
Email: info@bellagiohoteldulac.com

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Arriving at sublime Bellagio.

Colico

Colico is probably the most relaxed place on Lake Como, hidden all the way in the North, close to the small lake Lado di Mezzola.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Colico’s pier is far from being an industrial harbor.

Actually, Colico is much less picturesque and posh than the other places, but it’s totally worth the visit for the serene, beautiful surroundings where you can hike and cycle for hours.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Getting ready for the grand tour around Lake Como.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Colico’s outback. All you hear are the birds chirping and the cicadas clittering.

Then, once back to town, you can stroll along the promenade, sit for a while on a bench and just lay your eyes on the majestic mountains in the backdrop of the green-blue lake where colorful sails move indolently across the still waters: VACATION!

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Colico – this picture says it all.

Colico is also the best place to take a dip in the lake since it has some natural beaches – whereas at the other places you have to go to a Lido which is nice, but also a bit costy. Here in Colico you just look for a place on the grass under a big tree, take out your book – or take a nap. On the shore’s Northern part there is even a stretch of sandy beach in front of the meadow, but since here the water is easily accessible all the families are staying here, so it’s packed and noisy and you might get hit on the head by a ball.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Aperol Spritz – the taste of Italian Summers.

Right in front of the pier are a couple of restaurants and an ice cream parlor and it’s nice and very Italian to hang out here especially in the early evening when it’s Aperitivo-time. Order a nice drink like for instance an Aperol Spritz (my favorite – and I drink it only when the outside temperature is at least 27°C resp. 81 °F) and they will give you a place full of niblets with it – that’s Italia! If you are still hungry, you can order – who would have guessed? – a pizza which is really good and – considering the location – at a surprisingly reasonable price.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Nick nack along the shore. The ‘real’ market is taking place Sundays on the main road.

Sunday is a great day in Colico since there’s a market along the Via Nazionale from the train station all the way into town. It’s not at all touristy, it’s rather like an open-air department store: They are selling household appliances and underwear, tools and Italian leather goods, jeans and sweets.

Accommodations in Colico range from a campground with access to a beach on the lake to upper-middle-class hotels in the town’s center.

Hotel Risi is located right on the shore and their comfortable rooms are reasonably priced:

Hotel Risi
Via Lungolario Polti1
Colico
Phone: + 39 – 341 – 933089
Email: info@hotelrisi.it

 

Lecco

It might be easier to travel on by boat from Colico during high season, till the end of May it’s basically impossible.

 

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como
Everything – even the old train station – is scenic in Colico.

Ooops, does this mean you get stuck there? Even though that wouldn’t be the worst place to get stuck, you don’t have to worry since there are regional trains going from Colico i. a. to Milano by the hour. And they do stop in Lecco, which is good since this Southernmost point of the lake’s Eastern leg is absolutely worth a visit before going back to the world’s hustle’n’bustle.

 

Taking a walk along Lake Como.
 (Photo: Giovanni Marinelli, View of Lake Como from Lecco, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Lecco has almost 50,000 inhabitants which is a little over half of Como’s population. However, Lecco deems less dreamy. However, at the historic center can be found a number of sober yet elegant buildings from the 18th century. This Neo-Classical style from the era of the Viscounts dominates the architecture of all of the Lombardian settlements around Lake Como.

 

It’s not the city as such, it’s the sensational setting amidst the Bergamo Alps and the Valsassina Valley that makes a visit to Lecco worth a while.
(Photo: No machine-readable author provided. GôTô assumed (based on copyright claims)., Lecco-4-16-04-2006, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Among these ancient palazzi, Palazzo Belgioioso, built in the 18th century, is one of the most impressive and houses today the municipal museums. Another one is the Villa Manzoni, which belonged to poet’s Alessandro Manzoni’s family until 1818 – Manzoni spent periods of his infancy and youth at this mansion – and is now communal property.

 

Villa Manzoni
(Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/renaud-camus/ Renaud Camus, Villa Manzoni, CC BY 2.0)

Since it’s only 50 km / 31 miles from Lecco to Milan, I don’t assume that you will spend the night there. But if you choose so, Hotel Alberi is a good, comfortable and relaxed option:

Hotel Alberi
Via Lungo Lario Isonzo 4
Lecco
Phone: + 39 – 341 – 350992
Email: info@hotelalberi.it

Back from the dreamy lake to reality and need some ideas and guidance for Milan?
No problem, check out this post.

Only have a couple of hours there until you travel on? Here’s a 24 hours itinerary.

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Italy Lake Como

 

THE LANGUAGE LEARNING TRILOGY – I don’t claim to be an A-student….

I’m looking so much forward going to Brazil next month: Two weeks Portuguese at a school in Rio de Janeiro including living like a teenage exchange student with a family.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: GNAM Roma - Sala delle Colonne / Alfredo Pirri: Passi
Learning abroad means not exclusively increasing command of a language; it allows you to learn and grow and look at
things from a different perspective.
Here during my first language course in Rome on a visit to the GNAM – Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna:
Standing on “Passi” by Alfredo Pirri, consisting of a huge broken mirror on the floor
 of the Sala delle Colonne, the entrance hall.

On this occasion I’d like to look back at my previous language classes that took place in Italy and Turkey – and share some precious, fun and a bit quirky stories with you:

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Language Learning Trilogy: Rome
Part One: ROME
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Language Learning Trilogy: Izmir
Part Two: IZMIR
bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Language Learning Trilogy: Milan
Part Three: MILAN

If you choose to pin this post, please use this picture (and check my Pinterest boards)

Wondering why I’ve chosen this motive? Well, it’s a sculpture by Pietro Canonica, who died in 1959 in Rome. A museum at the Villa Borghese is showing his vast work – Canonica in his time made busts and statues of many great men e. g. a equestrian stuatue of Mustafa Kemal Pascha aka Atatürk standing in Izmir.
I like how Italy and Turkey are united in Pietro Canonica’s naturalistic work.


United Colors of B…iennale

Hard to believe that it’s been already one month ago that I’ve been to Venice on the occasion of the 57th Biennale. Time passes so fast. But it’s a good moment to look back on this marvelous and inspiring visit and show you my favorite works so you save time in case you join the final sprint: The Biennale is on till November 26!

John Waters
One of John Waters‘ three boards why studying art.

I put together my very personal collection of the works that I liked the best. I’ve left out some of the pieces that I’ve already introduced during my daily Venice-posts “…a week in September” and although I’ve sorted the works by country, they are not necessarily from the designated country pavilion.

For instance France: At the Giardini’s French pavilion is an exhibition by Xavier Veilhan, but I liked french-born Kader Attia’s installation at the Arsenale much better so I included that one for France. When I like a certain national pavilion and then particularly liked another artist and piece from that country as well, I included both – like I did for instance with Albania.

It’s a good moment to present this international lineup, since it’s only a retrospective for me – you can still go, the Biennale doesn’t end before November 26, 2017.

Big advantage: prices for accommodation and many services and goods are much lower than in summer, but I still recommend to check in addition my post on how to get more for less on your trip to Venice.

In total I’ve chosen 50 works. To make it more convenient for you, you can get to every country by clicking on the name in the following list:

Albania (Pavilion) Albania (bye:myself’s favorite) Andorra (Pavilion) Antigua and Barbuda (Pavilion) Argentina (Pavilion) Argentina (bye:myself’s favorite) Australia (Pavilion) Austria (Pavilion) Belgium (Pavilion) Bolivia (Pavilion) Bosnia-Herzegovina (Pavilion) Canada (Pavilion) Chile (Pavilion) China (bye:myself’s favorite) Czech Republic/Slovakia (Pavilion) Denmark (bye:myself’s favorite) England (bye:myself’s favorite) France (bye:myself’s favorite) Germany (bye:myself’s favorite) Grenada (Pavilion) Guatemala (Pavilion) Hongkong (Pavilion) Hungary (Pavilion) Israel (Pavilion) Italy (Pavilion) Ivory Coast (Pavilion) Japan (Pavilion) Korea (Pavilion) Kosovo (Pavilion) Latvia (Pavilion) Lebanon (bye:myself’s favorite) Macao (Pavilion) Mexico (Pavilion) Monaco (Pavilion) Mongolia (Pavilion) New Zealand (Pavilion) Peru (Pavilion) Poland (Pavilion) Russia (Pavilion) Russia (bye:myself’s favorite) Scotland (Pavilion) Serbia (Pavilion) Singapore (Pavilion) South Africa (Pavilion) Switzerland (Pavilion) Taiwan (Pavilion) Tunisia (Pavilion) Turkey (bye:myself’s favorite) Turkmenistan/Kazakhstan (bye:myself’s favorite) United States of America (bye:myself’s favorite)


Albania


Albania at the 57 Biennale
Three blurry paintings by Leonard Qylafi from the series Occurrence in Present Tense


Edi Rama
Edi Rama has been Albania’s prime minister since 2013 and besides being an artist, he’s also a writer and used to be a basketball player. I live in a country where the chancellor used to be a physicist; that’s only hot on ‘The Big Bang Theory’.



Andorra

Eve Ariza
Eve Ariza named her installation Murmuri (Mutter). Each of the clay bowl has its own ‘voice’.


Antigua and Barbuda

Frank Walter
Frank Walter was not only a painter, he was also a poet and writer. To honor that I took a picture of his old typwriter in front of his naiv, very Caribbean paintings.

Argentina

Liliana Porter
El hombre con el hacha y otras situaciones breves (The man with the axe and other short situations) Oh, el hombre con la hacha is a mean little man – and it’s amazing how you can change the scenery by just looking at it from different angles. This work by Argentinian artist Liliana Porter is in my personal top ten; for its originality and its beauty.

Liliana Porter
A teeny tiny lady is fishing in a sea of…chiffon.
Every single exhibit is made in such a ingenious fashion, every single one is a tender tale.
These installations are like illustrations of life.

Liliana Porter
Hardworking little lady – sweeping the fiery red dust. (The figurine is maybe 1.5 inches tall)

Claudia Fontes
The horse problem by Claudia Fontes at the Argentinian pavilion. Although it’s also meant to be poetic, it deems rather tacky – and it’s well beaten by Liliana Porter’s elaborated perspective and esthetics.

Australia


One of the many, many pieces referring to refugees coming ashore is the installation Vigil: using sequences from old Hollywood movies and documentary shots of refugees, Tracey Moffatt lets the film stars suspiciously observe the refugee’s arrival.


Austria

Erwin Wurm
I already pointed out a couple of times how much I like Austrian enfant terrible Erwin Wurm; but to see his – admittedly iconic – One Minute Sculptures yet again…well….I enjoyed his “Drinking Sculptures” – and actually the entire exhibitions –  on my art trip to the Ruhr much more.

Belgium

Dirk Braeckman
It’s funny – Dirk Braeckman is a reversed Gerhard Richter: While at Richter exhibitions people get really, really close to check whether the painting is not a photograph, at this show people get really, really close to check whether the photos are not actually paintings.

Bolivia

Bolivia
Bolivia participated for the first time in the Venice Biennale and presents artists Jose Ballivian, Sol Mateo and Jannis Markopoulos. Maybe it’s because of the debut that the topic is very ambitious and serious thematizing the development and tension of Latin America in relation to the Northern countries. 


Bosnia-Herzegovina

Safet Zec
Safet Zec: Exodus – scenes depicting different scenarios of refugee and the hardship of migration, painted in the narrative fashion of the old masters like e. g. Tintoretto or Veronese. Every single of these tableaus at the Chiesa de la Pietà tells you a story on the protagonists’ hardship and destiny.

Canada

Geoffrey Farmer

Since the Canadian pavilion has to be renovated, anyway, Geoffrey Farmer was free to arrange his destructive yet fun – and literally refreshing – installation A way out of the mirror like a demolition party. Water fountains are exploding entraining everything around.

Chile

Bernardo Oyarzun
Bernardo Oyarzun – from the Mapuche indian tribe himself – is pointing in his installation Werken the oppression of Chile’s indigenous population. 1000 ceremonial masks, made by 40 Mapuche indians, are standing in the center surrounded by 6907 illuminated still existing Mapuche family names.


C
hina


Guan Xiao‘s video David is ironic and hysterical. It sketches the sell out of national art symbols like the David statue from Florence – to be found on cups and towels and T-Shirts and degenerating to be piece of tacky decoration or a marketing scheme. Showing this film nowadays at the Biennale where everybody is running around consuming art, taking pictures without even looking at the works is a slap in everyone’s face; my cheek is burning, too.

Czech Republic and Slovakia

Jana Zeliska
“Plavala husička po dunaji” – there was a goose swimming on the Danube river with her goslings in tow. Seeing Jana Želiská‘s installation, this old Czech children’s song came to mind – although hers are swans: Swan Song Now. And yes, that’s all that there is with this work, and Želiská was criticized for the banality of her installation.


Denmark

Olafur Eliasson
The audience is invited to assemble, together with migrants participating in Ólafur Eliásson‘s project Green Light – An artistic workshop lamps from wood, recycled yoghurt cups, plastic bags and green LEDs. For a contribution of at least € 250 you can take your lamp home. The money doesn’t go into Mr. Eliásson’s piggy bag, but will be donated to a good cause.


England

Paul Benney
Especially at this year’s Biennale I realized what an adequate art venue churches are: the light, the sound, the atmosphere – all this puts the works into a special space. And Paul Benney, creator of somber paintings (he calls them night paintings), shows his impressive chiaroscuro paintings Speaking in Tongues in the murky Chiesa di San Gallo.


France


This Installation by Kader Attia is simply genius: Voices from female Arabic singers make sand vibrate in glass globes. And it actually works only with the voices, it does not vibrate when there are e. g. instruments. Absolutely fascinating! And a clear feminist message, too.


G
ermany

Fiete Stolte
Although the German entry by Anne Imhof even won this year’s Golden Lion prize, I cannot include her since unfortunately I didn’t get to see it. There was only one performance the day of my visit and as I got there it was already over.
So I pick Fiete Stolte‘s copper feet on raw wood called Printed my Steps. I discovered Stolte only recently, but must say: way to go, Fiete (pun intended).


G
renada

Jason de Caires Taylor
There were many really good works at the pavilion of Grenada – many beautifully Ocean related. But I picked Jason de Caires Taylor who created the first under water sculpture park off the West Coast of Grenada in 2006. Especially since this year Damian Hirst causes a sensation with his exhibition ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ – irritatingly similar to de Caires Taylor’s much older project that in addition was meant to raise awareness for the endangered oceans.



G
uatemala

Sabrina Bertolelli
Sabrina Bertolelli, one of about a dozen artists exhibiting at the pavilion of Guatemala, ‘plants’ unique CONTEMPORARY-FLOWER…!, indeed. 


H
ongkong

Samson Young
Too bad it’s not possible to show the crazy, colorful, hysterical installation Songs for Disaster Relief by Samson Young. Installed in tacky sitting areas songs like “We are the World” or “Do They Know it’s Christmas” are blaring from tube TVs while lights are flashing in bright colors – it’s a zoo; and it’s great!


H
ungary

Gyula Varnai
I guess Hungarian artists don’t have it easy – just like e. g. Hungarian journalists. So why not sticking with peace? It deems political yet doesn’t offend anybody – everyone likes peace, it’s safe. Peace on Earth by Gyula Várnai deems a bit haphazardly, yet I liked the rainbow made of these tacky socialist breast pins.

However, the art nouveau facade of the Hungarian pavilion is at least as nice as the art shown inside.


I
srael

Gal Weinstein used rather unusual materials like mildew, stale coffee and sugar to decorate the pavilion of Israel. It’s said that the installation Sun Stands Still is a critique of civilization – I don’t know, I just found it unusual and interesting how something usually considered ugly all of a sudden becomes beautiful and decorative.


I
taly

Roberto Cuoghi
Jesus industries – from creation to decay: It’s huge, it’s creepy, it’s art; it’s Imitazione di Cristo by Roberto Cuoghi


I
vory Coast

Joana Choumali
Photographer Joana Choumali lets people migrate from one place to another by cutting and pasting. This way she points out in a very touching way how these individuals leave gaps in the original spots and look out of place in the new one. A very emphatic way of sketching the problem and a very interesting artistic translation.


J
apan

Takahiro Iwasaki
Spoiler Alert: Before entering the Japanese pavilion to see Takahiro Iwasaki‘s installation Turned Upside Down, It’s A Forest, make sure to climb the ladder underneath and stick your head in the hole. I don’t tell you more.


K
orea




Cody Choi
Cody Choi decorated the Korean pavilion’s facade so you can’t miss it – and cannot avoid it, either. His Venetian Rhapsody – The Power of Bluff is as flashy as can be.

Lee Wan
The absurdity continues inside with Lee Wan‘s work For a Better Tomorrow amidst Proper Time – Though the Dreams Revolve with the Moon


K
osovo

Petrit Halilaj
Petrit Halilaj‘s wallpaper installation Abetare made of old school books also made it from the Biennale to the exhibition Art and Alphabet in Hamburg. 

Latvia

Mikelis Fisers
The motives are downright crazy and that they are lustrous woodcarvings makes the whole appearance even more wacky. Thank you, Mikelis Fišers, for your exhibition What can go wrong, based on tin foil hat theories.
We have for instance Giant Grasshoppers Massacre Tourists by the Pyramids of Giza
Mikelis Fisers
…or The Last Yeties Protest Against CO Emmission by the Great Wall of China


L
ebanon

Huguette Caland
Of course it’s daring and a feminist act when Lebanese artist Huguette Caland paints nudity and public display of affection on traditional Arabic clothing.


M
acao

Wong Cheng Pou
All sculptures of Wong Cheng Pou‘s A Bonsai of my Dream are very tender and poetic. The one where two guys actually carry the one in the middle through the wall is my favorite.


M
exico

Carlos Amorales
For his installation The Life in the Folds, Mexican Carlos Amorales developed his own alphabet (interestingly the clay letters are pipes) and arranges the letters on big white tables to a story of immigrants; in the video screened in the back the letters come to life and tell a refugee story, too.

Monaco

Michel Blazy: Foret de Balais
Michel Blazy recycles. And by recycling he creates art. In Venice he planted a Foret de Balais, a broom forest.


M
ongolia

Chimeddorj Shagdarjav
A very artistic alternative to swords to ploughshares: just turn them into graceful cranes like Chimeddorj Shagdarjav did: I’m bird – a truly inspiring installation.


New Zealand

Lisa Reihana
When it isn’t about migration and refugees, it often is on colonisation (also some sort of migration, though) and oppression of native culture, customs and traditions just like in Lisa Reihana‘s video installation Emissaries.


P
eru

Juan Javier Salazar
A banner denouncing the leak of progress referring to ‘mañana’ was made by Juan Javier Salazar, calling it sarcastically Land of Tomorrow. Salazar sadly died last year at the age of 61.


P
oland

Sharon Lockhart Little Review
Well, to be honest, the exhibit is not that great, but anything that puts Janusz Korczak and his wonderful and sacrificing work for children into focus deserves at least to be mentioned. Sharon Lockhart arranged her installation around the newspaper by and for children called Little Review initiated by this great man.


R
ussia

Grisha Bruskin
They remind me of the first epic films from the twenties – the deployment of the masses, the esthetics of the totalitarian, the scary play of lights and shadows, Grisha Bruskin arranged his scenes in an extremely theatric fashion.

It’s certainly the interaction between the abandoned, ruinous hall and the screening of a door obviously moved by the breeze filmed by Vadim Fiškin. Together this creates an atmosphere of slow, poetic decay.

S
cotland

RachelMcLean
In Rachel Maclean‘s super fun movie Spite Your Face Pinocchio is trapped in a world of pretentiousness and consumption.

Serbia


Dragan Zdravkovic
On the facade is still written ‘Yugoslavia’ and inside three artists are showing their work at the Serbian pavilion. I’ve picked two extremes: Dragan Zdravkovic‘s ironic, hilarious self-staging…

Vladislav Scepanovic
…and Vladislav Šcepanovic‘s upsetting compositions that he calls ‘Political Pop Art’, depicting – in the fashion of traditional pop art – logos and slogans on one hand, on the other horrific scenes from the world’s trouble spots.


S
ingapore


Zai Kuning
With the sizable ship Zai Kuning focuses on the Malay ethnicity: the orang laut, water people, living on and of the water – nowadays of course endangered by pollution and tourism. Dapunta Hyang: Transmission of Knowledge reminds of the former emperor Hyang.

South Africa

Candice Breitz
Also dealing with the topic of migration, Candice Breitz‘ installation is one of the most touching works: Hollywood stars Julienne Moore and Alec Baldwin are sitting in front of a camera telling atrocious stories of their escape, the way across deserts and waters. In the adjacent room you can see the real narrators on screens. Puzzling effect, that the actors’ tales touch you partly more.


S
witzerland

Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler
Called after his work Women of Venice that he showed in 1956 at the French pavilion, the Swiss pavilion is all about Giacometti: Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler are showing simultaneously two films dealing with Giocometti’s love affair with American artist Flora Mayo – which is controversial given the fact that Giacometti denied all his life to participate in the Biennale at the Swiss pavilion and now there is shown this work of high intimacy.

Taiwan

Tehching Hsieh – One Year Performance 1980 – 1981 (Time Clock Piece) from FACT on Vimeo.
 


Tehching Hsieh is famous for extreme long term performances. This is a video on his project One Year Performance 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece): Over one year he hourly clocked in and took a picture. Hourly. Day and night. Looking back at his project he stated that “wasting time is my concept of life (…) Living is nothing but consuming time until you die.”


Tunisia

Tunisia - The Absence of Paths
I love art that invites me to participate. Whereby I still wonder what happened to me participating in Adrian Piper’s project The probable trust registry from 2015 – never heard from again.
Anyway, at the Tunisian pavilion you had to answer a couple of questions and were then supplied with a Universal Passport. The Absence of Paths – a beautiful idea – and we Germans are lucky to have such a universal passport, and it’s not only an art project…


T
urkey

TRUE-TREU Argun Dagcinar
One of the most surprising exhibitions was Synesthesia by a team of Turkish designers. Neither the design exhibition at the Palazzo Michiele nor this Turkish section are officially part of the Biennale, but the works by the team TRUE-TREU – exclusively dealing with immigration and refugees – are so unique that a place in this list is well deserved.
A Life Vest? by Argun Dağçınar is the most flashy piece.


Turkmenistan / Kazakhstan

yelena vorobyeva and viktor vorobyev
Shhh, the artist is asleep: At the ‘Pavilion of Artists and Books’ the bi-national couple from the Caucasus Yelena Vorobyeva and Viktor Vorobyev installed a…sleeping artist. 

United States of America

 Sheila Hicks Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands?!
Art that speaks for itself: Shown at the ‘Pavilion of Colors’ – what could be more iconic than Sheila HicksEscalade Beyond Chromatic Lands?!




?

So these are some of the highlights. During my week in Venice I’ve posted daily about my artwalks. You can follow my steps here:

24 hours in…MILAN

After my stopover in Milan on the occasion of my trip to Venice for the 57th Biennale, I’m now ready to share my best bits of advice in this brand-new “24 hours in…”-post. As usual, writing it I had a layover in mind or a short break on a road trip down South. If you’re staying longer or want to try out more, check out my recent post on an entire weekend in this North Italian city of art and fashion and get inspiration and information.

View of the cathedral from the museo del novecento
Here you can kill two birds with one stone (actually that’s a quite disturbing idiom): Best view at the Duomo, Milan’s cathedral, from the Museo Novecento (the spiral on the ceiling is by Lucio Fontana, just so you know)

 

Of course you won’t be able to see all that there is in only 24 hours. But since Milan has much less touristy sights to offer than most other Italian cities, a day will definitely allow you to see the major part of the city’s touristy sights; unless you lose yourself somewhere between the posh designer stores….

?   Local Currency:

Euro (EUR) / 1 EUR = 1.17 US$ (October2017) / current rate



?    Emergency Hotline:

Carabinieri (Police) 112

Fire Department 115

?    National Airline:

Alitalia

?    Airports:

Malpensa Airport, IATA Code: MXP

Linate Airport, IATA Code: LIN

 

?    Tourist Info online and onsite:

TurismoMilano
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II  (corner piazza della Scala)
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 45 55 55

Opening times: Monday to Friday 9 a. m. to 7 p. m., Saturday 9 a. m. to 6 p. m., Sunday and holidays  10 a. m. to 6 p. m.

Following either of the itineraries, you should consider getting a Museum Card. It’s good for three days which you probably don’t need, but it costs only 12 €uro which you already pay for a visit to the museums at the Castello.

?    Getting Downtown and Back

No matter what people say about Italy, I’ve been there so often and I really like their public transport system that brings you to almost everywhere at a reasonably price.

The joy starts with the airport shuttles: From Malpensa airport there are two options – you either take a bus (a little slower (traffic!) and a little cheaper, i. e. 8 €uro one way and 14 €uro round trip – there is a little booth with a very unfriendly man right at the arrival door) or the train (a faster and a little more expensive, i. e. 13 €uro one way, 20 €uro round trip within 30 days – to be booked online if you want this price).

From Linate airport you have to take a coach, there is no train connection.
There is also a bus connecting both airports. So getting to the city center and back is really a piece of cake.

Tram in Milan
My favorite means of public transportation are the old trams.
Unfortunately they cover only a small part of the city.

Note: If you want to follow the sunny day itinerary, you better go to Cadorna station (only possible by train from Malpensa) instead of Milano Centrale. There you can leave your luggage at the ‘Deposito Bagagli’, the luggage deposit, and head straight to the fun.

Public transport in Milan costs 1,50 €uro one trip, if you buy a card with ten rides on it, you pay 13,80 €uro, but honestly I don’t think that you will use them – at least not on a sunny day.

 

?    Morning Activities

Parco Sempione
View of the Castello Sforzesco from the Parco Sempione.

Milan is a relatively green metropolis – compared to other Italian cities – so you could spend a sunny day just strolling through one of the many parks. But then of course you’d miss out on a lot, so let’s level it out; which is easy since the largest and most beautiful park, the Parco Sempione, is adjacent to the Castello Sforzesco.

If you arrive at Cadorna station (like I suggested above), you just walk down Via Marco Minghetti to the castle – five minutes. If you’re coming from Centrale, take Metro M2 to Cadorna (5 stops).

The castle was built from 1450 by Francesco I. Sforza on the remnants of the destroyed Visconti family’s castle. Over the centuries many architects – i. a. Leonardo da Vinci and Bramante – have built and altered it. The former systems of bastions was transformed and is today part of the park.

Pietà Rondanini
This Pietà is rather interesting than
beautiful, I give you that.

Besides admiring the old structures, you should absolutely visit the Museo Pietà Rondanini located to the left as you enter from Via Marco Minghetti. The Pietà Rondanini is a marble statue by Michelangelo depicting Mary and Jesus taken from the cross. Although many of Michelangelo’s sculptures remained unfinished, this one is special since it was his very last work.

Museo Pietà Rondanini
Castello Sforzesco
Piazza Castello
20121 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 46 37 03

Inside the castle are two other museum complexes, the collection of ancient art including many archeological treasures as well as paintings and sculptures.

Civiche Raccolte d’Arte Antica 
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 46 37 34

A large variety of antique instruments is to be seen at the

Museo dei Strumenti musicali 
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 46 37 03

All the museums at the Castello are open Tuesday to Sunday 9 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.

If you intend to visit these three museums, you should consider the museum card (which i. a. grants you also access to Milan’s aquarium mentioned below).

 

Scultura di sedie Parco Sempione
My favorite spot at the Parco is this mini-colosseo.

Once you walk through the backgate into the park, you can buy a gelato and stroll along the trails in the shade of the majestic trees, sit on one of the benches or just on the thick and soft meadows.
If you get bored, there is more to see like for instance the Acquario Civico di Milano, Milan’s aquarium, or the Palazzina Appiani, a small neoclassic villa by Luigi Canonica which was used as a podium for the French royal family during games and events.

If you wanna find out, how the French royals watched the game – the villa can be visited.

I know that especially in the US Italians have a reputation…for having a thing for food. You’ll appreciate it as it now comes to lunch. Walk back to the castle and get to the other side, take a selfie at the Fontana di Piazza Castello, the castle’s square, and then continue down Via Luca Beltrami to the traffic circle Cairoli. On the opposite side of the circle begins Via Menfredo Camperio, and that’s the first step to your special lunch.

⛈    Morning Activities

Although Milan does not overwhelm its visitor with statues and facades and museums like Rome, Florence or Venice, there a some visitable venues; whereby the really great art here is rather modern to contemporary.However, two of my favorite galleries are not far from the station Palestro (M1 – when at Cadorna, just take the metro towards Sesto 1 Maggio, coming from Centrale, you take M2 to Loreto and change there into M1 towards Bisceglie) and right next to each other. That makes them the perfect spot for a rainy morning.

GAM Milano
The ceremonial hall with Alessandro Puttinati’s
sculpture of Paolo e Francesca

The GAM – Gallery of Modern Art, which are approximately the years from 1800 to 1900, is housed in a neo-classicist villa, built at the end of the 18th century as Count Ludovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso’s home. Besides the wonderful symbolism paintings by Giovanni Segantini and the post-impressionism, realism paintings by Angelo Morbelli and late neoclassicism sculptures another very interesting part are the ancient decorations and furniture of the majestic rooms and halls.

Galleria D’Arte Moderna di Milano
Via Palestro 16
20121 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 44 59 43
E-mail: c.gam@comune.milano.it

Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.

PAC Milano
From the PAC’s exhibition “Africa. Raccontare un mondo/
Africa. Telling a World”: Barthélémy Toguo Road to Exile

The PAC – Gallery of Contemporary Art, which does not show any permanent collection, but invites the public to see outstanding contemporary pieces from all over the world, is the GAM’s modest neighbor: It’s housed in the former stables and the space is much smaller. However, the art isn’t: Every exhibition I’ve seen here got me all enthusiastic!

Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC)
Via Palestro 14
20122 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 88 44 63 59

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9.30 a. m. to 7.30 p. m. (Tuesday and Thursday to 10.30 p. m.)

By the way – if the rain stops for a while, you are also in the perfect spot to enjoy one of Milan’s many parks: The Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli are just across the Via Palestro, and although this public garden as significantly smaller than the Parco Sempione, it’s just as beautiful and ‘entertaining’.

Hungry for lunch yet? Although on a nice day you could walk the 2,5 km / 1.5 miles to the restaurant, you might not wanna do it in the rain. No problem, hop on the M1 at Palestro (towards Bisceglie) and get off at Cairoli. Via Manfredo Camperio, where the restaurant is located, starts just at the Cairoli traffic circle.

?     Lunch

Riso e latte on bye:myself
Benvenuti nella casa della nonna : At Riso e latte you’ll
feel at your Italian grandma’s house
(even if you’ve never had one)

Of course you can get a slice of pizza or a piece of focaccia at every corner. But if you want to combine typical Italian food with a really fun environment, make reservation at the “Riso e latte” (rice and milk), a tiny family style restaurant decorated in the fashion of the 1960s.

Riso e latte 
Via Manfredo Camperio 6
20123 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 398 310 40
Email: ristorante@risoelatte.it



They are open every day, but Mediterranean style, i. e. for lunch from 12.30 p. m. to 2 p. m. and fro dinner from 7.30 p. m. to 10.30 p. m.

Reservation is highly recommended.

?    Afternoon Activities

Via dei Mercanti MIlano
Palazzo dei Giureconsulti on the Via dei
Mercanti to the left – and straight ahead
you can already spot the Duomo.

Riso e latte is not only a great place, it’s also very conveniently located between the castello and the must-see Duomo and adjacent Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele in the very heart of Milan. To get there, make sure to turn into Via dei Mercanti once you get to Piazza Cordusio. This street is smaller than the Via Orefici, one of Milan’s main shopping streets, but much more picturesque and ‘Italian’. It leads you straight to the Piazza del Duomo where you can see Vittorio Emanuele II on his high horse; and he doesn’t get off it…

View from the Duomo
View from the Duomo’s roof.

Since lines can be very long, I strongly recommend to make online reservation, otherwise you risk to spend too much of your precious time in Milan in a queue. There are different parts that you can visit and various packages, so you better consult their website.

Duomo Info Point 
Piazza Duomo 14/a
20122 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 72 02 33 75
Email: info@duomomilano.it

The Info Point is open daily from 9.30 a. m. to 5.30 p. m.

The Duomo is open daily, but the individual parts have different opening hours, so check out what you want to see and which package is suitable for you.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Honestly, since everybody makes such a fuss about the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, I don’t like it. Yes, it is very posh and elegant, but it’s also full tu the brim with tourists; and exclusively tourists, no Milanese would go shopping or take selfies at the Galleria. But suite yourself, it’s certainly an important sight and to be found in each and every guide book on Milan.

Built in 1864, the building is lavishly decorated in marble, with stucco and frescos, covered by a posh glass roof which highest point reaches 47 meters / 154 feet. It’s obvious that this construction is a celebration of the declaration of the Italian state in 1859.

The Galleria is accessible every day from 9 a. m. to 11 p. m.

After the über-touristy part of the itinerary let’s get to the fresh, young and hip part of town, the neighborhood around Porta Genova South of the center.

⛈    Afternoon Activities

I admit that the afternoon activities do not differ that much from those on a sunny day. That’s because even on a sunny day, you have to see the Duomo; otherwise it’s like visiting Paris without…you know what.
Only that on a rainy day you probable do not want to walk from the lunch place to the Piazza. You don’t have to: M1 stops at Cairoli circle and takes you straight to Duomo station (2 stops towards Sesto 1 Maggio).
MIlan's Duomo inside
Inside the Duomo, Milan’s iconic cathedral

Visiting the cathedral on a rainy day, you’ll probably miss the opportunity to climb around on their roof. Never mind, you get a good view of the Duomo and its surroundings from an neighboring building that houses another great museum, too, it’s the Museo del Novecento which shows art from the last century (it’s very confusing in Italian that they don’t number the centuries as we do: for us the past century is the 20st, for Italians it’s the (1)900st).

Museo Novecento Milan
The Spatial Ceiling was created by Luciano Fontana
for the dining room of the Hotel del Golfo
on Procchio (Elba) in 1956.

The museum has an interesting permanent exhibition of all the famous Italian futurists and constructivists, but they also organize inspiring special exhibitions. Already the building itself is very intriguing since they basically pulled a modern glass construction over the old structures so these are still visible – and the view from the museum towards the cathedral, the piazza and the adjacent streets is priceless.

900 Museo del Novecento 
Via Marconi 1
Milano
Phone: +39 – 02 -88 44 40 61
Email: c.museo900@comune.milano.it

?    Dinner

You’re in Italy, you have to have a pizza at least once a day and “I Capatosta” does not only make some of the best pizza in town, it is also ideally located in the currently hippest district of town, in the area around the Navigli. The Navigli (singular Naviglio) were waterways to facilitate the transportation of goods to and through the city; practically like the Grachten in Amsterdam or the Fleete at Hamburg. Today this area full of shops, bars and restaurants – partly on the water – attract mosquitos and crowds of nighthawks alike.

To get from the centre to the restaurant, take the M1 at Duomo and go back to Cadorna where you change trains and continue on the M2 to Porta Genova.

Pizzeria I Capatosta
Alzaia Naviglio Grande 56
20144 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 89 41 59 10

Open daily for lunch from noon to 2.30 p. m. (weekends till 3 p. m.)and for dinner fom 7 p. m. till midnight.

?   Nightcap

Navigli MIlano
Very determined shopping advice at the Navigli
neighborhood.

You’re already in the best neighborhood for food and drinks and joy and fun – just cross the Ponte di Ferro, the iron bridge and turn right. Walk along the Naviglio for less than three minutes before you turn left into Via Angelo Fumagalli and on the left side you’ll see Rita’s bar.

Rita
Via Angelo Fumagalli 1
20143 Milano
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 837 28 65

Rita’s bar is open daily from 7.30 p. m. (aperitivo!) till 2 a. m.

To get back to your accommodation  at Milano Centrale, walk back towards the pizzeria and continue on Via Casale to the end. There you turn right into Via Valenza that takes you to the metrostation Porta Genova. The train M2 towards Cascina Gobba takes you straight to the main station Centrale.

?    Accomodation

Especially if you are on a layover and need to get back to the airport in the early morning, staying close to either Milano Centrale station (or Cadorna) is the best option, and the Marconi Hotel is a pleasant place at a reasonable price and a less than 10 minutes walk from the mail station (where also the airport bus station is located).Marconi Hotel 
Via Fabio Filzi 3
20124 Milan
Phone: + 39 – 02 – 66 98 55 61
Email: info@marconihotel.it

Need more ideas for what to do in Milan? Check my recent post – also on a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Cenacolo = 15 minutes staring.

Note: If you have a couple of days in Milan – or if you don’t want to see the city center at all – you can easily go to one of the lakes North of Milan like Lago di Como (my favorite) or Lago di Garda (everybody else’s favorite). Since the train ride takes about an hour and you don’t even have to go do downtown to take it, but can hop on right at Malpensa, it’s a great alternative, especially during the hot summer months.

Need assistance planning this or other trips? Check my service pages

Plus – I’m happy to answer all your questions and share further information. To get in touch, please follow my blog (check also facebook and twitter) and send me a message, I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Here are more pins with 24 hours itineraries to great destinations for you:

57. Biennale in Venice – A Week in September – Sunday

So it’s Sunday, the last day of my wonderful week – mainly – in Venice. Over the past few days I’ve mainly posted on all the art that I’ve seen and left most of the touristy stuff aside.

Venice

But after I’ve been coming here for a while now, today – as a little souvenir – I’ll share some recommendations and little tips with you.

I will not tell you that there is a Saint Mark’s Square to be visited, the campanile to be climbed and many canals to be rowed. All this and much more will be written in every guide book, website, or even the smallest brochure.
I’ll make you savvy and show you how to get more for less.

Getting to Venice

Train

If you are already in Italy, you’ll probably get to Venice by train. I find that trenitalia offers a really good service at reasonable prices. Maybe it’s because of that that trains tend to be very full, especially the regional ones. The only recommendation I’d like to give you here is to travel as light as you can to be more comfortable.

Mind you there are two train stations in Venice: Mestre on the main land and Santa Lucia at the historic center. Trains between these two stations are going very often, so if you accidently get off at Mestre, it’s no biggy, the next train will be there in a couple of minutes.

If you chose to find an accommodation at Mestre, and there are a couple of reasons why this is a smart move, you can get by (regional) train to Santa Lucia in about ten minutes, and the ticket costs 1,25 €uro.

Often it’s better to get there by bus, though, since not every B&B or hotel is close to the trainstation. We’ll get to that later.


Flight

If you fly into Venice, you’ll land at Venezia Marco Polo airport. From there you have to options to get to the historic center – either by bus to the bus station Piazzale Roma or – and that’s a great way if you’re accommodation is at the historic center – by the Alilaguna boat. Especially on a sunny day it’s just dreamy and actually the first beautiful sight of your beautiful vacation – crossing the lagoon by boat with the view of this unbelievable place.
Alilaguna stops at various stations around the island and then goes to the Lido. So it’s recommendable to check where you’re staying and get off near that spot.

ACTV Vaporetto in Venice
Unusual arrival at an unusual city.

And if you’re not staying at the historic center? Then you can still go by boat, but in this case I recommend you to get off at the Cruise Terminal (blue line) and cross the ponte della Costituzione to the train station Santa Lucia where you can leave your luggage and start exploring the city right away.

Especially during the summer months the storage is often full so you have to either wait or chose another ‘consigne bagagli’: there are stores willing to store your stuff for a little fee and there even are various locker rooms at different spots in the center. But be aware that these places close much earlier than the one at the station.

Of course you can also go back to the airport the same way, but mind you the space on the boat is limited and if it’s full, it’s full. After a couple of days in Venice I can comfortably go back to the airport by bus and take no risk.

If your accommodation is not at the historic center and you do not want to leave your luggage but go there right away, taking the bus from the airport might be a better option for you: There’s an airport shuttle going straight to Mestre and you’ll reach every other spot from there.

Accommodation

Prices for accommodations are much higher from March till September. In November, I paid a fraction of the high season’s price. And of course during the ‘unattractive’ Winter months the city is much emptier than in Summer – but it’s never ’empty’. I personally experienced the least amount of tourists end of February after the carnival – but then there also might be acqua alta, which means you have to walk on wooden planks which is fun only for about ten minutes, and the city is pretty grey. But when you’re ready to experience the melancholic side of Venice in a relatively empty city at unbeatable prices, end of February does the trick.

Venezia
This view is exclusively reserved for guest who stay at the historic center; but it also has its price.

If you are coming during high season, you still have the option to stay out of the historic center on the Venetian main land like the city of Mestre or even farther away like Quarto d’Altino.
Italy has a extended and reliable system of public transport so it will be quite easy commuting into the historic center and back, I’ve done it a couple of times myself.

The closest and best accessible place would be Mestre. You can get to Venice Santa Lucia from there by train for €uro 1,25. But there are also many busses going every couple of minutes for € 1,40, which might be even faster and more comfortable since you’ll probably stay in a residential area.

Bus in Venice
When in Venice, do like the Venetians do: Commuting in full busses.

Mestre is less expensive, but it’s not cheap since the trick staying ten minutes away from Venice is not so very genius, hence hosts in Mestre know what they can ask from you.

You can also go farther away e. g. to Quarto d’Altino, a charmless place less than half an hour by train from Santa Lucia. Surprisingly there are a couple of hotels like the Holiday Inn Express in that area. Anyway, the trains to and from Venice go every 30 minutes and one trip costs €uro 3,40. It’s not a great option, but it’s an option just the same (I did it twice on really short stays. Commuting all the way out there for a longer time might be unnerving.)

You’ll find accommodations in the urban fringe on the usual hotel sites and privately run B&Bs on www.bedandbreakfast.it.

Exploring

Like I said, I will not tell you that there is the Doge’s palace and the Rialto bridge to be visited.

But I tell you that you can visit sights on a cheaper price and without waiting in line by buying e. g. the Museum Pass that grants you free entrance to the 11 most important state museums and palazzi in Venice. The best way to get it is ordering it online, so even there you save time.

Venezia
Hope this article helps you being on top of things in Venice.

On my first trip to Venice I did the whole show with taking the Vaporetto (ferry-bus) and all that jazz. Since you’re paying €uro 7,50 for a single ticket, you might understand that it lost it’s charme quite quickly and I’m walking – especially since taking the Vaporetto is another great opportunity spending your vacation waiting and queuing. But if you want to take the Vaporetto, and I perfectly understand that you do, you might not want to buy single tickets but day passes that cost ‘only’ 20 €uro for 24 hours, 30 €uro for 48 hours, 40 €uro for 72 hours, and 60 €uro for a week (which is a really good price, very similar to what you pay in big cities for day passes for ordinary public transport).

The whole somewhat confusing price policy of ACTV, the local transport company, is to find on their website.

Gondolieri
Row row row the boat…

You can also combine your activities and the travels on one tourist card, the Venezia Unica City Pass, where you add online activities and the a. m. ACTV-passe and then print it out before you arrive.

Young people between 6 and 29 can get a Rolling Venice Card that grants them reduced entrance fees and cheaper Vaporetto tickets and more (kids under 6 years of age don’t have to pay, anyway).

So now it’s up to you to do your math – good luck!

Like in most other touristy cities there’s a free walking tour in Venice, too.

Although it’s very touristy, indeed, on a sunny day an organized trip to the other Islands like Murano with its glass artisans, the fishing village of Burano with its lace industries and the great church houses of Torcello is just beautiful.


Eating and Drinking

You might have noticed by now that I am very passionate about art – but also about churches and temples, streets and squares. Although I like cooking and love food, when travelling I consider it a waste of time – unless it’s a highly authentic or in some way special place.

So this sitting around at a restaurant for an hour just to stuff face to me is a waste of time. And in Italy they are especially chilled about serving, here you learn where the word ‘waiter’ must stem from: you wait for him to bring the menu, you wait for him to take your order for drinks, you wait for him to come back with your drinks, you wait for him to take your order for food – and it goes on and on till you wait for him to finally take your money. I can’t stand it.

Fortunately Italy is street and fast food heaven. I’m not talking burgers’n’fries here, I’m talking juicy pizza, fat-dripping focaccia or sandwiches with prosciutto di Parma; everything that’s guaranteed vitamin free and rich in carbohydrates. So having a piece of heaven for lunch while pacing to the next museum and in the evening an epic aperitivo and I call it a happy foodie day.

Here are the top places in Venice for my kind of diet:

Pizza

It’s hard to find bad pizza in Italy, and many of the stands that sell a slice of pizza for about 2,50 to 3 €uro will be even excellent. The best one in Venice is definitely Rizzo on strada nova. Their pizza comes in long stripes and is covered with the finest toppings like gorgonzola and nuts, quattro formaggi whereby the formaggi are like triple of the dough, all sorts of prosciutto and veggies – it’s fantastic. They also sell other treats like tarts and sandwiches and at the opposite counter a variety of cakes and pies. Everybody finds something he falls for at Rizzo.

Pizza
Just look at these toppings!

Rizzo Pane
S. Leonardo
Cannaregio 1355
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 83 22
Email: info@rizzovenezia.it

Tramezzini

Do you know “Tramezzini”? They are triangles of soggy, unroasted toast, but that doesn’t matter since the bread is only the wrapper of the delicious fillings. The fillings are not a thin layer like on a sandwich, not, they are a big heap of of the finest Italian delicacies: prosciutto, egg, gamberi (shrimps), carciofi (artichokes), radicchio, you name it. To help the shredded stuff holding together, they are stirred with just the right amount of mayonnaise to a heavenly mixture and then bedded between two slices of toast. It’s good that the toast is mushy because it makes room for the filling.

Tramezzino
One lonely tramezzino. They are called tramezzini – plural! – since you cannot limit yourself to just one:
Look at this rich, juicy filling of crabmeat!

I limit myself to three pieces in one meal, but let me tell you, the choice is a toughie.

The juiciest tramezzini are waiting for you at

Bar alla Toletta
Via Dorsoduro 1191
30123 Venice
Phone: +39 – 41 – 520 01 96

Tramezzini
Bar alla Toletta = Tramezzini-Heaven

Aperitivo

I don’t really get the aperitivo concept, but I still love it. Why I don’t get it? Because an aperitiv is soppused to tickle your fancy for a complete meal. It Italy the aperitivo is a complete meal – and in comparison darn cheap: at the non over touristy places you pay between €uro 5 and 8 for an aperitivo that includes a glass of something like a Spritz and a small buffet with all sorts of niblets. Sometimes it’s only bruschetta, but sometimes it’s really fancy stuff like tomatoes with crab stuffing or some nice pasta.

Aperitivo Taverna Remer
A light aperitivo-buffet.

The nicest aperitivo place in Venice is Taverna al Remer. You can either sit in their rustic restaurant or you take your booze and snack outside, sit at the canal and enjoy life.

Taverna Al Remer
Cannaregio 5701
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 522 87 89
Email: taverna.remer@yahoo.it



Taverna Remer

Another really nice place – although located very exposed on the strada nova – is the Cantina Vecia Carbonera right at the corner of the bridge over Rio Terà de la Maddalena.


Aperitivo
Finest snacks at the Cantina Vecia Carbonera:  a fine little meatloaf (upper left), a melanzane parmigiano, a piece of bread with gorgonzola and nuts, and a piece of stuffed squid on polenta – and a glass of Spritz.

Cantina Vecia Carbonera
Cannaregio 2329

30121 Venice Phone: + 39 – 41 – 71 03 76

Restaurants
So you insist on having a seated meal? Okay, there are some good options at Venice that are not a complete rip off.

Osteria alla Vedova
Cannaregio 3912
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 – 528 53 24


Rosticceria San Bartolomeo/Rosticceria Gislon
Sottoportego della Bissa 5424
(Close to Rialto)
30121 Venice
Phone: +39 – 41 – 522 35 69

Trattoria dalla Marisa
Fondamenta San Giobbe
Cannaregio 652/B
30121 Venice
Phone: + 39 – 41 -72 02 11

Great Reads

When travelling I like to complete my day by listening to local music and reading a good novel that takes place in the surroundings – and sometimes even makes things that I’ve seen during the day much clearer.

Cafe a Venezia
Coffee break with Venetian news on the side.

In the post about my weekend in Milan I recommended you to get in the mood with the help of Lucio Dalla’s poetic music. For Venice there is of course Ms Donna Leon and her commissario Brunetti leading you to even very hidden spots of the city – he is working on his 26th case by now!

And of course there is the all time classic ‘Death in Venice’ by German Nobel prize winner Thomas Mann.

*This article contains affiliate links. By purchasing items through my affiliate links at no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission that helps to run this site.

57. Biennale in Venice – A Day Trip to Padua – Saturday

Today it proved – again – that staying in Mestre has many advantages: To get away from the weekend’s hustle and bustle in Venice (as if Venice is a serene place during the week….) I took the train to Padua, 14 (!) minutes from Venice and the perfect place for a day trip when in Venice for a longer time.

Scrovegni chapel
Even if there was nothing else to see in Padua, the Scrovegni chapel alone is already worth the visit.

Although Padua is an orphan compared to glamorous, mysterious Venezia, it’s absolutely underrated. Of course there aren’t these fantastic palazzi at every corner, hello?! this is the real world. But there are a couple of nice spots and buildings absolutely worth the visit once you’re tired of this constant pushing and shoving of masses of people.

Coming from Padua main station my first steps led me to the Scrovegni chapel to see the famous Giotto frescos. Only that a funeral service just had ended there and in front of the church stood the undertaker’s car with the coffin half in it. I was a bit irritated, went in, saw no Giotto frescos, actually very few decoration. Fortunately the people there were quite distracted mourning the decedent so they didn’t realize that I was looking for Giotto; or maybe they thought I was the secret mistress. Whereby I don’t even know whether the deceased was a man or a woman since luckily the coffin was closed. I felt stupid an thought, this is so me, and if the story was longer and I had any sort of adequate pictures I had written another post for the ‘um…funny little story’-section of this blog. But this short party crashing was already it, enough embarrassment for the early morning.

Museo Archeologico
Museo d’Arte Mediovale e Moderna

I found my way to the real chapel after all, but you need a reservation and I got a time slot for 6.15 p. m. so I had all day to explore the city.

Since I already was on the spot, I visited the adjacent museums. The Museo Archeologico has some vessels and coins and statues and all the stuff that every archeological museum houses; it’s not mind blowing. The art museum houses an unimpressive collection of many Gothic and some Renaissance.

Giotto
Giotto L’Eterno
This painting at the museum make the wait for the Scrovegni chapel easier.

It’s funny, after all the modern, crazy art I’ve seen over the past week, visiting the old masters was sort of refreshing. I’ve known this phenomenon the other way around: Years ago when I did Venice, Florence, and Rome for the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art, it was such a pleasure visiting the Ca’ Pissaro at the end of the trip and looking at the classic moderns.

Andrea de Mantegna
Andrea Mantegna Madonna col bambino

Musei Civici agli Eremitani
Piazza Eremitani 8
Padua
Phone: + 39 – 49 – 820 45 51

The museum complex is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a. m. to 7 p. m., for the chapel the reservation of a time slot is needed.

Crossing town along Corso Garibaldi and Via Cavour to the city center which looks pretty like every Italian city center with the usual collection of Spanish and Swedish chains of clothing – but after five days of Venetian masks and poorly manufactured bags and tacky glass figurines I actually sort of enjoyed the fact that planet earth had me back.

Padua
Real life, real people – and real Italian motor bikes. In the backdrop the clock tower stemming from the era of the Carrara family in the 14th century.

But some of the stuff from Venice, like the low quality leather goods, were also to find at the huge markets around the Palazzo della Ragione, but here at accordingly low prices. I even shopped a leather wallet and a pair of shoes.

Still in my old shoes, on my way to the famous Prado della Valle, I stopped at the Piazza del Duomo to visit the cathedral

Duomo

The Padua cathedral was build during different art epochs, actually it is the third building on this site. The building began in 1551 and was completed only in 1754.

Padua Duomo
Interesting: The statues are a bit in the art nouveau style and even Jesus looks a bit windblown.

Museo Diocesano
Palazzo Vescovile

The Palazzo Vescovile, the Bishop’s palast, houses the diocesan museum and can thusly be visited, although the Bishop lives on the second floor. On the first floor precious handwritten books from the different centuries can be admired and on the upper floor some fine art and especially the beautifully painted lounge are worth a visit.

Museo Diocesano, Palazzo Vescovile
The thoroughly decorated bishop’s lounge.
Palazzo Vescovile
The – literally – iconic gothic image of the holy trinity.
Palazzo Vescovile
Resurrection of Christ – book from 1290



Museo Diocesano di Padova 
Palazzo Vescovile
Piazza Duomo 12
35141 Padova
Phone: +39 – 49 – 876 19 24

Email: info@museodiocesanopadova.it

Prado della Valle

I’m sure it must be very impressive seeing this 90.000 square meter/ almost one million square feet elliptical square in Padova. It is the largest square in Italy and one of the largest in Europe, decorated with 78 statues (38 in the inner ring and 40 in the outer ring) and surrounded by a canal so you reach the center over bridges. Unfortunately there was a huge market taking place so I saw the statues lurking between market stands and could not admire the certainly beautiful layout of the un-square square.

Valle del Prato
A small part of the place that should give you an idea of its greatness.

Abbazia di Santa Giustina

I find that all the church buildings in Padova look pretty monumental – already due to the fact that they have these brick facades and not one high tower but a couple of bulky ones; they remind me a bit of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul – very predominant architecture. The Abbey of Santa Giustina, dating back to the 10th century is no exception – and said to be regarding its architecture the most important building of Padova.

Abbey of Santa Giustina with a good part of the sculptures on Prado della Valle
(Photo: Padova Turismo)
Great view at the abbey’s roofs and the city.
(Photo: Padova Turismo)

Abbazia di Santa Giustina 
Via G. Ferrari 2/A
35123 Padua
Phone: +39 – 49 822 04 11
Email: info@abbaziasantagiustina.org

Walking from the Abbey up North towards the center, there is a botanic garden (‘Orto Botanico’) East of the Prado della Valle, but I didn’t go there.

My next stop was another church building, namely the


Basilica di Sant’Antonio

After all the churches I’ve seen today, I’m considering myself an expert and can tell you that this is the most beautiful one. The building ended in 1310, and it shows a Byzantine style with Gothic elements.

Basilica di San'Antonio
View of the chapel from the courtyard.

There’s not only Antonio’s tomb at one of the chapels, there is also his tongue on display between the relicts as well as his vocal chords – and I saw some denture; at least for non-catholics this is creepy. However, this was the most impressive of today’s churches.

Basilica di San'Antonio
The faithful praying at St. Antonio’s coffin.
Basilica di San'Antonio
Wardrobe: preaching gowns at the vestry.

Basilica di Sant’Antonio
Piazza del Santo 11
35123 Padova
Phone: + 39 – 49 – 822 56 52
Email: infobasilica@santantonio.org

Back to the main square – which in this case is actually square – the Piazza delle Erbe, it’s a must to see the

Palazzo della Ragione

that used to be the city’s townhall. It’s more than 80 meters / over 260 feet long and 27 meters / almost 90 feet wide. It was built between 1172 and 1219 and is covered in beautiful allegoric frescos. At one end of the hall is a black wooden horse, that Giorgio Vasari attributed to Donatello because of its resemblance to the horse of the statue del Gattamelata at the Piazza del Santo, and at the other end a big Faucault pendulum.

Palazzo della Regione
The Palazzo: Impressive from the inside….
Palazzo della Ragione
….as well as on the outside….

Piazza delle Erbe
….granting a nice view of the Piazza delle Erbe.

Chiesa degli Eremitani

Fresco by Andrea Mantegna
(Photo: Padova Turismo)

I didn’t miss a church, did I?! This church is one of the oldest churches in Padua, built in 1276, and famous for its chapel, one of Andrea Mantegna’s masterpieces.

Actually I went in there since it is right next to the Scrovegni chapel site, which was my last – and best! – stop.

Scrovegni Chapel

Scrovegni chapel
Part of the heavenly ceiling.

6.15 p. m. – here I finally was at the breathtaking masterpiece by Giotto, a chapel entirely decorated by frescos of the most famous Gothic master. After an informative movie on the chapel they let the small group of less than 20 people in – which is a very wise thing since the chapel is really small and just mesmerizing so lots of people at the same time would not only harm this masterpiece but also spoil the special atmosphere for the visitors.

Giotto depicted scenes from the life of Mary, life of Jesus, and history of mankind.

After all I was very happy to had had such a late time slot since the visit was so impressive, I wouldn’t have liked to visit other sights after this, which I’ve found much more touching than for instance the Cenacolo by da Vinci in Milan.

Information

If you need more information, Turismo Padova has a really good website and three conveniently located offices:

Stazione FS
Piazzale Stazione Ferroviaria
Padua
Phone: +39 – 49 – 201 00 80
E-Mail: infostazione@turismopadova.it

Open from Monday to Saturday 9 a. m. to 1 p. m. and 2 p. m. to 6 p. m.

Galleria Pedrocchi
Vicolo Pedrocchi
Padua
Phone: + 39 – 49 – 201 00 80
E-Mail: infopedrocchi@turismopadova.it

Open from Monday to Saturday 9 a. m. to 7 p. m. -19.

Piazza del Santo
Padua
Phone: + 39 – 49 – 201 00 80
E-Mail: info@turismopadova.it

Open from Monday to Sunday 9 a. m. to 1 p. m. and 2 p. m. to 6 p. m.,
but only from April to October.

Just so you know, there is the Padova Card, a tourist card that grants you free entry to various sites, but check whether it’s worth it for you since it costs 16 €uro for 48 hours and 21 €uro for 72 hours. You can get it at one of the tourist information places or online at www.cappelladegliscrovegni.it resp. at a call centre where you can at the same time make reservation for your Scrovegni chapel visit.
Phone: +39  – 49 – 201 00 20

It would make pretty happy when less people
would believe that Giotto is not – only – a globular cookie, Carpaccio not – only – wafer-thin sliced meat, and Bellini not – only – a far too sweet drink.
Viva Arte Viva!

Special Treat: To Padua along the summer villas on the river Brenta

By the way, you can also get to Padua from Venice in stages: Along the river Brenta are some of the fines summer villas of the Venetian nobles (yes, these good people needed a break from all the wealth and beauty in Venice from time to time, so they escaped – to the wealth and beauty along the Brenta). To meander on the river, you can book a tour that runs between March and October, and all year round you can go by bus; this you should plan a little bit, since the busses don’t go that often. When I did it, I made a list of the villas I wanted to see and then bought all my bus tickets accordingly. My last stop was Padua.

57. Biennale in Venice – A Week in September – Friday

Today was my last full day in Venice since I’m planning an extra-trip for tomorrow – let me surprise you – and Sunday I’ll be heading back to Milan to catch my flight back home.

Venice
Look from one bridge at the other – and there are still 433 more to chose from.

Therefore today I did enjoy the city to the max: Eat, Pay, Look.

Commuting like every day from my lovely B&B to Piazzale Roma, for a moment again almost nauseated with awe, I got myself together and crossed the Ponte della Costituzione  – the least charming one of the 435 bridges that are connecting 121 islets and making them Venice.

When travelling, I become sort a traditionalist, frequenting favorite places daily, ordering the same stuff – probably this is some sort of security I like in contrast to the independent way of travelling.

Anyway, next to the railway station Santa Lucia you’ll find a place called “Brek”. In the front part is a bar where you can get coffee and drinks and some sandwiches, slices of pizza – the Italian carbohydrate program. In the back is a “restaurant”. It’s a self service, but e. g. the meat you order is grilled freshly. Then they have some pasta dishes and a salad bar. It’s a tad bit horrible, but I sort of like it, and I like that fact that many Venetians come here because it’s not a tourist trap (although tourist also come here).

Brek in Venice
“Brek” – probably one of the most truly Venetian places.

If you are on a special trip to Venice – like first time to Europe, honeymoon, anniversary, or you have a little extra cash and don’t need to watch your expenses, you might prefer a coffee on Saint Mark’s square that will burn a hole of about 14 €uros in your pocket – and I don’t think that’s a crazy waste of money but I wish you well and hope you’ll enjoy it. I do things like that sometimes: in Havanna I had lunch worth two Cuban monthly salaries – but I absolutely wanted to experience the ‘La Guarida’ restaurant I had seen in a movie.

But I also like folksy cheap, especially since this is my 7th trip to Venice, and while I’m still amazed by the city itself, I don’t spend money on costy touristy things like coffee at fancy cafés anymore.

Alley in Venice
Venetian working class heroes on a break; to me all Venetians are heroes coping with the invasion of 10 millions of tourist every year (plus 14 millions of day trippers)

While the food and especially the drinks in the front part of “Brek” are absolutely ok, I won’t tell you that the hot food in the back is good, because it isn’t. Even though it’s unexpensive, they still achieve a bad price-quality-ratio.
But for a quick snack with a good coffee and free internet access in the morning or a quick Spritz with some crisps and more free internet in the late afternoon – see you at “Brek”.

Roofs of Venice
Roofs of Venice.

From “Brek” it was just a ten minutes…trek (I love this one) to a venue I was looking very much forward to. Today were three great exhibitions on my list – and not one did disappoint me!

Palazzo Mora

Like I announced in the post on Monday, there are different parts of the group exhibition Personal Structures: Open Borders, and today I got to the largest one taking place on three floors of the Palazzo Mora located on Venice’s main street Strada Nova.

Palazzo Mora
Exhibition with a view.
Sculptures by the Slovak artists Robert Szittay (left) and Miroslav Trubač (right)

Guys, almost every one of the works on display would be worth an extended, glorious presentation. Since this is not possible, I picked the following four – but there could have been as well others; there was simply too much to chose from.

Petra Barth

(born 1964 in Germany)

I like the intensity and expression of the faces Petra Barth captures with her camera. Her black and white photos are so classical and the motives just speak for themselves – no filters, no action – just plain photography.

In her work “Mochileros” she shows portraits of people who crossed the border to the United States illegally in search of a better living. The term “Mochileros” is usually used for backpackers – and although these people might have had backpacks, their journey was certainly not a joy ride.

Petra Barth and Se Yoon Park
Petra Barth Mochileros (back)
Se Yoon Park Light Darkness and the Tree (front)

Dolk 

(born 1979 in Bergen/Norway)

Dolk is a pseudonym of this ‘Norwegian Banksy’ – one of the most recognized street artists. Since 2006 he is also represented by galleries.
At the Mora are two of his ‘paintings’ made by staples. Let him inspire you to what to do on a long, boring day at the office…

Dolk
Two shimmering ‘paintings’
Dolk
From close you can see that the pattern consists of staples with torn pieces of paper underneath.


Beatriz Gerenstein

(born in Argentina, lives in Miami)

I like about these bags made from bronze that Beatriz Gerenstein criticizes the superficial status symbol of a handbag, but at the same time they are very pretty – actually an object of desire (and after schlepping all my stuff criss cross Venice, I think with a bag like this I’d be much better of).

Beatriz Gerenstein
Beatriz Gerenstein Objects of Desire
Man, a bag like this would save you so much!


Sohn Paa

(born 1967 in Daego/South Korea)

After having been ‘only’ a painter, Sohn Paa is now constructing beautiful objects from acupuncture needles – millions of acupuncture needles!
Just like Dolk’s ‘paintings’, Sohn Paa’s sculptures look great from far – and blow you away when you take a closer look what they are actually made of: there it’s staples, here it’s needles!

Sohn Paa
Three objects – nice looking from far….

Sohn Paa
….amazing from close.

Sohn Paa
An object like this spares the museum a “Please do not sit” sign.

Fondazione Prada

Last Sunday I walked in the rain to the Fondazione Prada in Milan and after today I have to say that the exhibition at their Venice branch is even more impressive – no wonder, they have to compete not only with the Biennale, but also with solo exhibition by Hirst, Hockney and Fabre.

Since 2011, the Fondazione Prada is housed at the Ca’ Corner della Regina, constructed between 1723 and 1728 by Domenico Rossi.

Fondazione Prada Venezia
The raw walls of the old Palazzo make a perfect screen.

Since May 13 and still till November 26 the German multimedia project “The boat is leaking. The captain lied.” is taking place there. Photo-artist

Thomas Demand

– who seems to be the Prada’s pet since in Milan he has one of the very few permanent exhibits – and his compatriot Alexander Kluge (right now featured at the Folkwang in Essen/Germany with a big retrospective of his work) got there respective works staged in a mind-blowing manner by designer Anna Viebrock.

Fondazione Prada Venezia
Doors- one of the installation’s important artsy elements.

Gigantic can be big – it only needs a good idea to fill the space – literally and metaphorically. The Ca’ Corner della Regina is a huge building with lots of space, but three big artists were able to fill it.

Morbelli
Angela Morbelli: Il Natala dei rimasti 
(Christmas of Those Left Behind)
One of my favorite paintings in the whole wide word (www) was the initial ignition for this installation.

They used the quite run down structures for a sinister atmosphere, but built with raw material like plywood and wood rooms in the rooms that, due to the material used, partly deem like crates. But there are these fancy doors – heavy, padded doors. Or mirrored doors. Leading to another room. It’s like a maze. Have you been to this room before? Was the room the same? Slowly you can imagine what Alice must have felt like. The screening of Alexander Kluge’s experimental films makes the whole scenario even more surreal. Then there are Thomas Demand’s images – all constructed from cardboard. Is it a dream, a nightmare, a different reality. Well, it for sure is “The boat is leaking. The captain lied.”, the fantastic exhibition by Thomas Demand, Alexander Kluge, and Anna Viebrock, curated by Udo Kittelmann at the Fondazione Prada. Another must see show.

Palazzo Franchetti

The show “Glasstress” has been one of my favorite exhibitions since I’ve been coming to Venice for the Biennale. It occupies only one floor of the Palazzo Franchetti, but what they show is just overwhelming.

Karen Lamonte at Glasstress
Glass dresses by Karen Lamonte in the majestic hallway of Palazzo Franchetti.

The fact that it’s probably a bit easier to impress with glass – true to the motto: what – it’s possible to do this in glass?! – the fact remains that the pieces shown are just amazing; yap, it’s incredible what the artists can do in glass!

Glasstress
The chandelier is on permanent display, the other pieces are Brigitte Kowanz Vo-Lumen, Josepha Gasch-Muche T.30/12/07, Josepha Gasch-Muche T.11/06/04,  Siggi Hofer Palazzi per tre voci femminili, Tony Cragg Untitled (from second to the left to right)

Sabine Wiedenhofer at Glasstress
Sabine Wiedenhofer Tribeca

Dustin Yellin at Glasstress
Dustin Yellin Plexit

Erwin Wurm at Glasstress
Erwin Wurm: in the front Vater (father), behind Venetian Sausage small (left) and Mutter (mother)
More about Erwin Wurm’s hilarious sculptures and installations in my post about Duisburg.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina


Rachel Maclean

(born 1987 in Edinburgh)

Two years ago at the 56th Biennale I found this church more or less by incident – and was so lucka since there was the truly spectacular exhibition of Russian Grisha Bruskin’s statues in the pitch dark church forming like a grave for the socialist showpieces.

So I expected again something spectacular, although it doesn’t really make sense, but somehow certain venues seem to attract shows of certain quality. And after I’ve seen Rachel Maclean‘s super fun movie on a Pinocchio trapped in a world of pretentiousness and consumption, I believe that Santa Caterina will never deceive me.

Rachel Maclean
I’m only sad that there was so much to see today so that I didn’t have the time to watch the whole movie, but I hope to have the chance to do so very soon, since it was really cool; and the church makes one fine movie theater.

I was thinking today and realized that we art addicts don’t have only the advantage of not being bothered by bad weather when travelling, we also have the advantage to always have a bathroom available. I’m telling you – Viva Arte Viva!

Did I inspire you? Planning on going to Venice?
Get some special advice and detailed information how to get the best for less in the Sunday post.