This splendid 10-room gallery on the Grand Canal - inexplicably absent from many online Venice guides - houses a delightful collection of 19th and 20th century art (as well as a smaller Oriental Art Museum on the top floor). While the great majority of the works are by Italian artists possibly less well-known to a general audience, some big international names are also represented, with fine pieces by Bonnard, Chagall, de Chirico, Kandinsky, Klimt, Mirò, Tanguy.
Bookbinder Paolo Olbi is one of Venice’s last great artisans. He has two lovely shops on Campo Santa Maria Nova and Calle della Mandola where he sells his beautiful handmade note pads, address books, photo albums, stationery, and business cards. If you don’t find Paolo at work in the backroom, embossing patterns into the leather covers of notebooks, he’s probably at his atmospheric workshop in the Castello, with his typesetter Beppi, where he welcomes interested visitors. We visited one Saturday morning, and he spent a couple of hours taking us through the fascinating process, from how they create the wood plates for the book-covers, inspired by old Venetian designs, to binding the books by hand. I already purchased half a dozen notebooks to give to friends, but he gave us a money-holder as a gift and took us for a glass of wine at the local bar to thank us for our interest. That’s Venetians for you!
Calle della Mandola, San Marco 3653, Venice: +39(0)41 528 5025
I would definitely recommend a look when you visit Venice. It's inside the Church of St Mark (Basilica di San Marco) and as well as the fantastic ceiling mosaics, offers has a great view of the piazza.
Go up the (steep!) staircase on the right as you go from the narthex into the main body of the church. It's worth the effort, though.
The real horses of San Marco are up here too – the other ones are only modern replicas.
San Marco, Piazza San Marco
If you want to see art in Venice, it doesn't come any better than this. Tintoretto's painting of the crucifixion literally took my breath away. This has been described as the Venice equivalent of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and I wouldn't disagree. It is a real tour de force by Tintoretto and shouldn't be missed.
My other favourite place for his paintings is Santa Madonna dell'Orto in the north of Cannaregio.
Right by the Frari church in the lovely and quiet San Polo sestiere.
A must see in Venice is Corradini's Donna Velata (veiled woman) in the first floor library of the Ca'Rezzonico (No 1 Vaporetto). The rest of the collection is a delightful contrast to the proto-Stalinist slate art that adorns the Doge's Palace.
Torcello is the island at the north of the Venetian lagoon that might have been Venice, and that Venice might have been. In their early days they were equally populous, but Venice prospered and Torcello dwindled; as a result, you can find quiet and contemplation on Torcello that sometimes eludes one in Venice itself.
Especially noteworthy for church junkies is the Ciesa Santa Maria Assunta, with its mosaics of the Last Judgement and of the Virgin and child, heavily Byzantine influenced but with some North European influence too.
Take a vaporetto to Burano, a picturesque little island in its own right, and then the Traghetto to Murano.
For the first time this year, a group of artists and art teachers are organizing a summer academy in Venice. The location: an old palazzo on a little side canal with a private garden in the back. Painting, drawing and video art courses are held at the palazzo over two weeks and attendees are invited to also eat and sleep in the house, which offers guest rooms. The courses are held in a relaxed atmosphere and are aimed at hobby painters and students who would like to build a portfolio. For more information, check out the website.
The palace is a very beautiful insight into Venice and truly is the perfect example of a wonderful and majical Veneican Palace. It is great for art lovers, as there are a number of excellent paintings. The site also has a rich history based around the Palazzo being the residence of most of Venice's doges. The palace is fanatastic for getting an insight into the politics and culture of Venice. Be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to look around as there is a museum and plenty of rooms to see.
San Marco Square, water taxi from the main Venice port.
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