Saturday, 3 January 2015

Ca d'Oro & Palazzo Mocenigo - Venice

I arrived in Venice at 10 am having left Barcelona at the slightly unseasonably hour of 7:30 am. Being unable to check in until the afternoon, and not wishing to waste a day, I dumped my luggage and went in search of sights and information.

One of the things I wanted to do during my stay was make a day trip to Murano and Burano and I also wanted to see if there were any museums/things worth seeing that I had not yet discovered in my cursory search of Tripadvisor and Wikipedia. As a result. the information centre was my first stop. It was not as useful as I'd hoped though, which was perhaps a good thing as I'd already discovered enough things to keep my days filled.

Venice is made up of two sets of roads, the one on the various islands, snaking between the tall houses resulting in often cold, dark passages, and those of the water, between the islands.
If you take the former, Venice is a very different city from that of its reputation. For the most part the houses are old and crooked but uninteresting; only a few have extravagant facades, often facing the Grand Canal. On the main streets, every second shop is selling Carnivale masks and/or Murano glass though you easily become sceptical as to whether the pieces they're selling were in fact created on the island of Murano.
In addition, though Venice is a city of the water, wandering the streets means that you only occasionally get a glimpse of the aqua water and dazzling sunshine down the end of a street or as you cross one of Venice's many bridges.

The streets for the pedestrian are not located on the water's edge but instead make up the back streets, as though the wealthy owners of these water front houses used the water for their travel and the servants used the streets.

Wandering along one of the main thoroughfares in the general direction San Marco's, I was finding myself to be inundated with shops of glass souvenirs. I wanted to get something, if only to say it was Murano glass from Murano, but it was difficult to determine which pieces were actually from Murano. As a result, and so that on subsequent wanders I knew what I was looking at and could buy whatever I saw and liked, I decided to visit Murano and Burano the following day.

Passing the Ca' D'Oro it became my third stop for the day (the second had been for coffee and a pastry).

A view of the facade of Ca d'Oro from the jetty along side it (admittedly, not the best view).
In addition to a beautiful facade (best visible from the other side of the Grand Canal) and a stunning courtyard which I will get to later, this museum seemed to contain a random assortment of religious artefacts among other things.

A rather delightful Courtly tapestry
 (colours have been tweaked).

Close up of St Sebastian. I was intrigued
 by the detail of the arrow under the skin. 
Titian's Venere allo Specchio

One of the things which really intrigued me was how animated and lifelike some of the marbles were.

This one looked so familiar

In fact it was the courtyard and the views from the balconies that were the biggest draw card. Though I vaguely remember references to the courtyard on Tripadvisor, it was an amazing surprise to step into.

View of the Grand Canal from the courtyard. 

View from the upstairs balcony. 

In a case of good timing the Palazzo was hosting an exhibition on costume jewellery. I personally prefer the real stuff, preferably antique, but as the exhibition relates to fashion history (predominantly of the 1930s - 1970s) it was well worth seeing. And it was a delightful exhibition.When it comes to costume jewellery, I'm less fussed by the blingy cut gem pieces,  as they appear to be obviously fake. Instead I prefer the enamelled pieces and in this exhibition, there were some delightful interpretations of animals and some pieces I'm sure a friend or two would have been happy to wear.


Grabbing an ice cream and enjoying the sunshine for a while over a Spritz (a requisite according to my Mother) I wandered over the Rialto bridge towards a second museum, the Palazzo Mocenigo.

This was a museum recommended by Mum for it's exhibition on the structure of perfume but I found it was already on my list as it reputedly had an historical fashion section (something that is not as common among European museums as I perhaps make it sound).

The display of the 'rooms' within were a little cold and unhomely, even for an historic house and there were some elements I have my suspicions regarding, but the fashion section and perfume section were both beautifully done. 

The fashion section related to the middle of the 18th century an era still associated with Carnivale and the court of Versailles in France. The female costumes were beautiful with a range of paniered gowns and Watteau backs, but the men's pieces easily surpassed these as they had an entire antechamber filled from floor to ceiling with embroidered waistcoats. 

The perfume section of the museum was also spectacular. We'd been a little sceptical about visiting the ones in Cologne as they seemed to be associated with specific brands and touting their produce as opposed to providing an overarching breakdown of perfumes as a whole. This one looked at the various essential oils from which perfumes are composed and their historical origins around the world. It also explained what type of scents they produced and as a result where they fit in the categories of scents, eg. were they woody or floral, top notes, base notes... 
While the museum may not be big enough, it would be delightful to see the perfume exhibition developed further from the individual ingredients to show the effects of starting to mix the various ingredients. 

One strange thing did happen at the museum; sticking my nose into the different jars and bowls of primary ingredients I was startled to find myself transported back to my Grandmother's old apartment. The smell was labelled 'Styrax benzoin Dryander, Benzoino Sumatra' but I don't know why it reminded me of Grandma so strongly. She did have a relatively large and well known collection of rocks and minerals that filled cabinets and graced several surfaces around the room, and it is possible that one of these containers contained this benzoin resin. But even so, the quantity in the museum was rather large and the scent of it did not fill the entire room as it did at my Grandmother's.

It being now late, and me being just slightly cold, I decided to head back to my hotel, check in, unpack, change into something slightly warmer before heading out again to grab a bite to eat.

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