This and That

Thursday was a bit dreary, with the sort of clammy weather that feels cool one minute, steamy the next. We decided to walk over to Palazzo Grimani, an enormous 16th century palazzo built in a Classical design. Giovanni Grimani acquired a huge collection of Roman statues, which are now back in the room designed for them. It’s a fascinating palazzo to visit, with some very different Classical, Renaissance, and Mannerist elements.

Upstairs, I really enjoyed an exhibit of paintings by Helen Frankenthaler. Her huge canvases at first look simple, until you let your eyes roam to take in all the details of color, line and texture.

I’d been wanting something to roast vegetables in bigger than the gratin dishes in the apartment, so we wandered owner to housewares store Ratti. A large store by Venetian standards, with an upper floor for appliances. I found an inexpensive baking sheet, and a vegetable peeler. Larry perused the Moka offerings.

Nan had texted asking if we were free for lunch, so we headed west, first going to a Biennale installation in a church. Eh, rather middle school in earnestness and lack of development. Much better experience at lunch at Osteria al Cicheto on Calle Misericodia in the far reaches of Cannaregio. About eight tables packed tight, small menu, good smells. The three of us shared two antipasti, (a salad with goat cheese; and a swordfish salad) two pastas (Vongole; and duck Ragu) and two secondi (stuffed calamari; and slow roasted pork) And eight glasses of wine over a very long lunch–we closed the place. Very good food, nice wines, fun conversation.

We were very close to the Ghetto, so after lunch went over for the 3:30 synagogue tour. We hadn’t been there in many years, so wanted to revisit. The Jewish community officially began in 1516 when Jews were first allowed to live in Venice, (although closed in by gates) and at its height had 5,000 residents crammed into a very small area. Many of the buildings in the Ghetto had 7-8 stories of low ceilinged rooms to squeeze as many people as possible into the space.

Jews came from Germany, Spain and the Middle East, and were limited in what occupations were open to them. They formed synagogues, schools and charitable institutions; the Sephardic community was relatively wealthy while they were involved in trade in the 16th and 17th centuries. Several synagogues were built, and at the Jewish Museum you can go on a tour to visit three.

Nice walk through Cannaregio, and a quiet evening at home. Oh look, transportation strike tomorrow!

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