Thursday, March 29, 2018

VERONA 2017: The Santa Maria in Organo Church


For years now, in both past and present lifetimes, whenever I travel to other countries, I always buy the relevant DK Eyewitness Travel book to enhance the travel experience.  To be honest...it's because of the photos!

I already had a DK book on Italy but it was Astrid who found a more specific DK book on Venice and the Veneto that would also cover Verona for our 11 days there.  Bingo.

See that shelf of DK books (top-right)?  YUP.
But this book, had only one paragraph and one photo for the Santa Maria in Organo church.
A chicken????  YES.  But with this HELLO:
"Some of the finest inlaid woodwork to be seen in Italy is in this church."

You first need to know that there's much interest in my family of origin with marquetry
because of furniture inherited from my maternal grandparents.
I love this stuff.

So off we went to find this very special church (red dot).

The original 6th-8th century church was rebuilt after an earthquake in 1117.

As you know, I always start with the nave...

...and its altar.

Then I turn around 180° to see the organ, which is usually in the back.
(Hmmmm.  Where's the pulpit?)

Then up, to see the ceiling!

Who thinks up these things!

As we often say on our Shutterchance photoblog, "Always look up!"

Side chapels in these churches also amaze.

As do the simplest of impressions everywhere you turn.

But as you know from the outset, I was there in this church for the chicken!

So, enter the sacristy!
All around the top half of the walls and ceiling are murals.

The bottom half is cupboard fronts with marquetry (inlaid wood).

The artist, an Olivetan monk, was Fra Giovanni, an architect and craftsman from Verona,
who spent 25 years, from 1477-1501, working on these exquisite pieces.

But that's not all....

When you leave the sacristy for the choir behind the altar,
you pass the wooden sculpture of the "Musseta" (little she-mule) from the 14th century...

...and then you enter the choir, with more marquetry from Fra Giovanni.

This.
I used to sing in choirs throughout my youth until middle age.
Could I have ever imagined this?

25 years of incredible patience and craftsmanship!
Who wants to sing??

I would have given this much more than one photo in any travel book!
And now you know I'm dying to say it:  "Which came first, the chicken or the....!"

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

To all who celebrate this Holy Week,
HAPPY EASTER WEEKEND!


Thursday, March 22, 2018

VERONA 2017: The Cathedral


As you may recall, after we spent a week in Venice last year, we took the train to Verona and spent 4 days there.  To be honest, even though very different from Venice, we loved it as much.

We saw so many churches in Verona, I don't even know where to start.  Actually, I did start, by showing its three fabulous basilicas last August.   But some of the other churches are worth their own posts, like the duomo, or cathedral:  Cattedrale Sante Maria Matricolare.  It's not the biggest or the best, but it is the city's main cathedral.

There it sits at the top, on the Adige River.

The west front of the cathedral shows the Sanmicheli bell tower in the background.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1187.

Outside the cathedral near the front door is this angel statue.

You can find myriad stock photos of it but I'm still searching for info on it.
[Addendum:  I found out from a Facebook friend that this is The Angel of Acceptance
or hospitality, by Albano Poli.]

Once inside, I always start with the nave and main chapel, with altar.

You know I always look for the organ (large and/or small) because of my musician mom.

And the chancel and pulpit....because of my preacher dad.

I suppose we were distracted by the renovation going on?

But we saw enough to be glad we had visited.
Here's a good link to much better images, especially of what we missed.

The Sanmicheli bell tower sticks out like a sore thumb, here at the Ponte Pietra bridge.

The next day we saw it from across the river while at the Roman Theater.

Like I said, it's not the best of the Verona churches we saw, but we wanted to see it.
And there will be at least one or more Verona churches to come....


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Venice 2017: The Piazza San Marco


Little by little, I'm coming back to parts of the 2017 Venice trip that have hung in the archives for way too long.  You could say, once again, that this is being resurrected for Astrid and me, lest we forget it!

Of course, you hardly think of Venice without thinking of its most famous square, San Marco, with its St. Mark's Basilica and Campanile.

Here's one of the best views I've found.
[Generali Group, Wiki]

 With this diagram, you can give names to the structures.
[Ed Stephan, Wiki]

Our very first day in Venice, 24 March 2017, we hopped on a vaporetto waterbus up and down the Grand Canal and made a stop at St. Mark's Square on that sunny day.  It was all about getting the lay of the land.

As we approached the square, it was the Campanile bell tower that first appeared.  
It's one of Venice's most famous landmarks.

And because it was sunny, we had our best view of St. Mark's Basilica...her facade.
That's St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, the St. Mark Lion and the Horses of St. Mark.
But we were not there that day for the basilica.  That came later....

This was the day to get just a smattering of everything by climbing the Campanile bell tower.

 Whenever there's a chance to get a different perspective, it pays!

I don't remember what it cost to take the lift to the top, but it was worth every cent.
At 323 ft. tall, you can see for riles and riles amound.

   In fact, this is what I showed on Facebook after that day.

There are two columns at the waterfront:  St. Mark's Lion and St. Theodore.
How fun to zoom in on them with my magic 1200 mm camera.
St. Theodore was the first patron saint of Venice before St. Mark replaced him in 828.

The Palazzo Ducale, or the Doge's Palace, from 1340, opened as a museum in 1923.
It, too, sits on the waterfront.

 Last but not least of the square's landmarks is St. Mark's Clocktower, from the 15th century.
Two Moorish men strike the hour throughout the day and night.
The clock face itself is huge (top-right), restored in 2006.
And see how close it it to the basilica (bottom-left)?

Most of that above was on our first day.  Two days later we went back when it was rainy.
See how the Campanile bell tower sits alone on its own (right).

How many times have we said nothing rains on our parade!

That was the day we visited inside the basilica, when rain didn't matter, of course.

 Actually, Astrid didn't go inside with me because of some backpack issues (long story).
Not to worry because we were herded through like cattle and were told NOT to take photos.
I don't speak Italian, of course, so slap my hands!
Needless to say, I was not impressed till later when I could see my pics on the big screen.
Even then, my total impression of the place was "too dark and gloomy."
And we weren't even there during peak season, with 10x more tourists!

 It was in the hallway of the side entrance that I most enjoyed the basilica.
It was delightfully lighter.

 Upon exiting, I looked up!

Now, go to our 6th day in Venice when we made our night trip on the Grand Canal and stopped again at St. Mark's Square.

Sun, rain or nighttime, it's always magical.
Lucky for us, there were no crowds!

The Doge's Palace was all lit up.

As were the Moorish men atop the clock tower.

A handful of people were dining out on the square (March 29).
There was even a mini-orchestra playing.

But the colonnades along the square were all but empty.
Were we lucky or what!

As we left to return home, we were short of eyes...and thankful.

We missed hundreds of things to do/see at the square, we know.
We didn't visit the museums or back corners of the basilica, etc.
But it was just enough for us.  We saw what we went to see.