Saturday, January 11th, 2014
Mimi gives a presentation outside of the Doge’s Palace
San Marco, Doge’s Palace, Ca’ Rezzonico, & Scuola Grande di San Rocco
8:30 AM came quite soon after falling asleep and we were off again to explore the city of Venice!
First stop: Doge’s Palace
The building is absolutely stunning, but that is nothing in comparison to the inside. We entered through a courtyard that featured huge Roman arches. We then walked up a long flight of stairs and found ourselves confronted with one of the most beautiful ceilings in the world. It featured both enormous paintings and richly gilded carvings. We all stopped and sat on the benches around the room, just taking in the view.
The entire walls and ceiling are covered in spectacular paintings; not an inch of wall is seen. Underneath the palace are tiny, cramped, dank prison cells, with very low ceilings and crusty metal bars. While walking down to the cells, prisoners had their last, fateful glimpse of Venice while crossing the Bridge of Sighs.
Second stop: San Marco
The site in daylight is just as breathtaking as that in the evening. The Piazza has Venetians roaming around, fellow tourists standing in awe, and the occasional flower salesmen approaches someone to attempt a sale.
Where the Doge’s Palace had ceilings and walls covered in oil paintings, the Basilica of San Marco was covered in gold mosaics. Its high ceilings and domes ideally represent Byzantine art. A balcony on the Basilica held bronze horses from the Hellenistic or Roman period (the originals were in the museum); as we stood on it, we overlooked the entire Piazza di San Marco and remembered that Napoleon had called it “the most beautiful drawing from in the world.”
Third stop: Ca’ Rezzonico
To get to our third stop, we had to head over to a water taxi. Here, we got to see some gorgeous Italian artwork done in fresco during the eighteenth century. The museum featured three different styles of chandeliers that lit numerous paintings and frescoes.
Fourth and final stop: Scuola Grande di San Rocco
Our last stop brought us to our final museum of the day, which featured a painting cycle by Tintoretto. Following one of many bouts of the plague through which Venice suffered, artists became even more expressive in showing the sufferings of Jesus. It’s likely that these scenes gave Venetians some comfort during their own suffering. With eight enormous paintings on the lower level and 12 more upstairs, the cycle is truly beautiful to behold.
Our evening discussion was filled with presentations about Byzantine art, art in relation to Aristotle, the Basilica of San Marco and the many complex symbols within its art.
The day was busy and exhausting and it felt good to come back to the hotel and relax for the evening. Tomorrow features beautiful museums and exciting sights to see as we venture out onto the streets of Venice to study Philosophy and Art!