the dates in November

Caffi, Salute, Aquagranda among the dates in November

A languid sunset warms the pier of Saint Mark with the last of daylight. It is 1864, we are fully within the Romantic age. Ippolito Caffi translates the breathtaking beauty of a city which is about to undergo a crucial moment in its history into painting. Two years later, in 1866, the long Austrian dominion era ended, and the city became part of the Kingdom of Italy.
Therefore, a sunset on history, which we can still enjoy today from the same angle, and practically with the same ambience.

We have revealed this reason for our choice of a memory of a historical event which took place 150 years ago through a view of the city, but there are other ones.

Ippolito Caffi is not the author of just this painting, now preserved at the Correr Museum, the most iconic city museum in town, but he is also the star of a major exhibition dedicated to him within the spaces of this museum itself. City Museums, its Foundation and the whole town with it, wished to remember this artist who died in the shipwreck of the “King of Italy” in 1866 itself, in Lissa, engaged in depicting events during what would go down in history as the first naval battle between armoured steamships.

Born in Belluno and a Venetian by choice, an extraordinary painter and chronicler, a descendant of the great Venetian vedutism school of the eighteenth century, the entire fund of the his 150 paintings, donated to the city by his widow, is now being showcased. An exhibition including masterly views of cities like Rome or Naples, besides splendid images of Venice, and of fascinating places drawn from the many trips made by this artist in the Near East. Ippolito Caffi. Between Venice and the Orient, this is the title of the exhibition, will remain visible to the public until 8 January 2017, thanks to a recent extension of its closing date.

And here is third inspiration for this cover of ours.

The sunset on the pier leads us inevitably, during this month of November, to turn our gaze to the domes of the basilica dominating the centre of the painting. They belong to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. Built after a project by Baldassarre Longhena, one of the leading architects of the time, this church has a strong symbolic value for Venice, embodied by a Madonna who was asked for protection from what was one of the worst plague epidemics in town, in 1630.

Even today, this event called the Fête of Our Lady of Health is commemorated ever since the church consecration took place on 21 November 1687, by a heartfelt pilgrimage made easier by a floating bridge built for the occasion over the Grand Canal. On that day, but also on the previous ones, on Saturday and Sunday in this year’s calendar, one may perform the traditional act of lighting a candle to the Virgin as a health vow; visit the basilica and the extraordinary artworks it holds; take a tour of the crowded stalls in the area or walk around the neighbourhood towards the suggestive Punta della Dogana or the Zattere embankment; or yet again, taste castradina (mutton, once brought over from nearby Dalmatia), the specialty of the moment in some tavern, or visit some important museum in the area characterised as the Museum Mile (Punta della Dogana, Palazzo Cini, Guggenheim Collection, Accademia Galleries).

The month of November still recalls another moment which strongly affected the city and its inhabitants with it. It was the flood of 1966. On 4 of November of that year, exactly fifty years ago, an exceptional tide, the consequence of a series of concurrent events, literally submerged Venice (and Florence) causing extensive damage to architectural and monumental heritage… and to human assets in town.

Some important institutions have presented and will present a series of events this month about that event, widely regarded as one of the most dramatic moments in the city’s modern history. We will mention two here: the Aquagranda – “great water” artwork, that is how that terrible day is remembered by Venetians – commissioned to Filippo Perocco from Roberto Bianchin’s novel, which will inaugurate the prestigious La Fenice Theatre opera and ballet season on 4 November itself and the historic and documental Venezia 1966-2016 exhibition set up in the spaces of the Marciana National Library, with photographs, testimonials and memoirs, even hitherto unpublished ones, from the major city archives.

Amongst the openings for this month’s calendar, we shall also mention the important exhibition dedicated to Tancredi Parmeggiani, fifty years after the first one, at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (starting from 12 November).

Among the ones about to close, we remind you instead of Sigmar Polke and Accrochage respectively at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, visible until 6 and 20 November; Venice and the Jews at the Doge’s Palace, open until 13 November and the International Architecture Exhibition at the Giardini and the Arsenale which will close after about six months since opening, on 27 November.

Instead Paolo Venini and his furnace and Mindful Hands are continuing at the Cini Foundation venues; Culture Chanel, at Ca’ Pesaro; The world of Han Meilin at Ca’ Foscari, Plessi – Underwater at the Fondaco dei tedeschi; Photographs by Burri and Scianna at the Tre Oci house.