Our visit to Venice coincides with their Carnivale – a two week celebration of lent – this is the exact equivalent of Mardi Gras in New Orleans – but without the floats. During this time it is customary to dress up. Let’s just start with the children – they are all wearing their Halloween costumes. It has also been established that Disney dominates the world when it comes to little girls and princesses. I don’t know if it is a tradition but the children seem to be responsible for decorating the place with brightly covered confetti available in bags at grocery stores everywhere. The children walk around and randomly toss the paper with abandon. There is not a place in Venice where we have not seen confetti or silly string.
For adults there are 3 levels of dressing up. Level one is a mask – lone ranger style with glitter. There are mask shops everywhere and they run the spectrum from very simplistic to highly elaborate paper mache works of art. The 2nd level is the mask with cape. If you are a tourist with disposable cash this is what you would wear around. The 3rd level is mask, cape and old timey outfit replete with wig. The old time refers to something from the 18th century with big hoop skirt. Most important, if you are part of a couple – the fabrics of your old timey outfit MUST match. I’m going to guess that these people are attending the balls in the evening where tickets can be purchased for an average price of 500Euros per person.
“Wake Me UP! Before you go-go…” started our day thanks to our upstairs neighbor blaring it out their window. We could have stayed and grooved a bit but we were off to the Natural History Museum. There were no English translations so we just looked around, but they had some interesting rooms in addition to the traditional looking displays. Like the room of mammals – Perhaps a wealthy Duke or Lord left their trophy hunting collection to the museum because there were two entire rooms of heads through walls.
Since we couldn’t read anything we do not know what the link is between moths and two headed cattle. Perhaps it was just celebration of symmetry in nature. But the albino fox messes up that theory.
The bug display gives Brent hope that he could one day find a job in Venice as a curator. Does this not rival the Indianapolis 4-H state fair offerings?
Our next stop on maxing out our “Museum pass” was the Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo. Based on the interior this must translate to Palace of the snappy dresser who made perfume. [Editors note: many museums and churches ask that you take no pictures, Brody the informer takes this to heart, it is difficult to take photos when a docent and Brody the informer are distracted]. This museum started with rooms dedicated to the lifestyle of Mr. Mocenigo in the 18th century then it morphed into a clothing museum and finally into a perfume museum. They had a room where you could smell all sorts of scents and it had them sorted by family. It was fun to see what we all liked and didn’t like. There was a lot of information on where many of the scents came from.
The Ca’Pessaro is one of two contemporary art museums. This one was not very big but just the right size for our family. It has every room set up by a time period and it walked you though each style transition. There were some names we recognized from our journey’s elsewhere like Rodin and Klimt. The museum had a Picasso and I have yet to really understand his appeal. He, or his agent, must have been extremely charismatic to get people to pay oodles of money for his stuff – seriously it looks like what my children brought home in 2nd grade when they made stick people with big brush strokes and tempera paint. Finally they have a couple of Warhohl’s Campbell soup cans – “Turkey Noodle” and “Tomato” I had a hard time explaining why these were so famous to the kids.
A certain amount of the children’s own money must be spent on confectionary delights in each city. They chose Gelato – I can understand the allure – the presentation of each flavor is artistic. They pump the gelato into the container as if was icing and then top with fruit or whatever flavor corresponds.
There was only one church open for us to tour – Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari – it is a big one. They have some big name artists, well I only know they are big because one of them is the same as a Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtle, but they had a carving by Donatello and an alter painting by Titian. This is not the first time we have come across a Titian but the Fraris have his tomb or crypt or whatever the name of the thing on the side of the church that looks like an alter but it’s really a body in there is called. Sadly no one can concentrate on Titian’s perfectly nice altertomb because directly across from him is the Canova family altertomb but it looks like a pyramid – I snuck a photo and suffered the wrath of Brody the informer. The figures are the size of regular people – these folks must have had so much money -not just enough to have a spot but to go against every single Baroque – Rococo -Gothic architectural rule – you know they had to bribe the decoration committee members.
After dinner we had to take advantage of the good weather and see Venice by moonlight. We let the girls roam on their own while the adults and Brody checked out St Marks square. We gave the girls permission to buy reasonably priced masks because they were starting to feel left out. I’m not sure the party ever stops here. The street sellers were really pushing a type of toy that flies in the air like a rocket. Their target market is 9 year old boys. “Whoah! that is awesome”, “Brody, don’t make eye contact with them!”, “Wow…” Every time one flew up in the air he was mesmerized. He eventually was distracted by purchasing more gelato.
“Hey girls, how was your evening?”
“We saw a fight!”