So it’s been barely a year since I was last in the island city. We took a train from Sacile into Venice, which took a little under an hour. I didn’t think it possible but I am even more in love with this city.
This time round we tried our best to avoid the main streets that led either to the Rialto Bridge or to the Piazza San Marco. Surprisingly, though we tried to stay away from the masses, we either ended up taking a back street short cut straight to the Rialto Bridge or running around in circles. Once we orientated ourselves there was some room for discovery…
This is Santa Maria Della Salute. This beautiful example of Baroque architecture is located in Dorsoduro, it can be seen across the river from Piazza San Marco and sits at the very tip of the Canal Grande.
Walking back on ourselves we crossed over to the other side of the canal to pay a quick visit to the Piazza San Marco, which was relatively peaceful and tourist free at 10:30 am.
I am particularly interested in the Basilica San Marco for it’s Islamic influences. I absolutely love all the gold mosaic work and Byzantine glory to this church. For a long time Venice had a strong alliance with Byzantium and this church reflects these ties.
This is one of the most beautiful architectural facades I have ever witnessed. As you can see there is a clear influence of Islamic decorative technique occurring on this facade of the Basilica San Marco. The door way imitates typically Islamic mihrab decorative techniques.
I do love my greens and clearly so do Italians. I’d be convinced to move to Italy purely for their dedication to fresh fruit and veg markets. Market foods in Venice are seasonal, fruit smells like fruit appear to like something out of this world. Just look at these giant tomatoes!
Shopping for the right mask in Venice is tricky. Many are fooled by the cheaper masks sold on stalls and in gift shops along the Canal Grande and around the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco. On visiting Venice you will see that masks are often ‘repeated’ as you walk along the heavily populated tourist regions. These plastic masks are more often than not, mass produced in China.
As a general rule, I would suggest walking around the quieter parts of Venice and not buying a mask at impulse in the first mask shop you encounter. You can usually tell a genuine hand made mask from a cheap Chinese plastic one by the quality and feel of the mask or by the ‘official’ made in Italy sticker inside masks. Genuine masks are hardly ever mass produced, each mask is usually individual as masks are handmade. The artists more often than not will be inside the shop, busily working away at new creations. A sign of a good mask shop is it’s artists so feel free to ask questions about their works and techniques, they are a friendly, creative and happy bunch!
If you’re looking for genuine, handmade Venetian masks, the following shops are worth paying a visit to:
Campo San Toma 2867, San Polo, Venezia – 041 740095
Crosera San Pantalon, Dorsoduro, Venezia 041 5233461
They don’t have a website, you’ll have to visit one of their shops to see for yourself. These masks are absolute masterpieces.
Fondamenta dell’ Osmarin 4968, Venezia – 041 5223036
This is one of my favorite little mask shops. The artists sit at the entrance working their magic. It’s a 5 minute walk from Piazza San Marco, towards Castello.
Dorsoduro 3172, 30123 – 041 5203229
Freakishly entertaining mask shop!
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, Castello 5174b, 30122 – 041 5229995
Another little artist’s workshop in Castello, not far from Piazza San Marco.