Venetian winter

Ancient stones, colonnades, marbles and friezes smoothed by time…
A sumptuous portal bearing the symbols of an ancient power, linking the two hearts of the city: the religious one represented by Saint Mark’s Basilica, outlined by a dome, and the political one of the Doge’s Palace, framed by elegant battlements.
Then there is the faint light, taking us back in time, and the atmosphere of a winter season bringing us even closer to this town, almost allowing us to touch, or rather, to lightly feel what its soul is…
Here, in one simple image, is all the significance and beauty of a city, which, as we always wish to point out, is an asset not only for its citizens, but for the whole of mankind. But how to discover and experience the city in winter? There are no rules, obviously, except those of respect.
Therefore… Here, unlike other cities, weather conditions during this period, such as its reduced light, the cold, sometimes its fog and the “high waters” are not negative elements, on the contrary, they are part of an “essence” of the town which often makes it more real and intimate.
Its atmosphere by night, for instance, increases the charm of this period even further. Walking through semi-deserted alleys and quaysides, guided by the sound of footsteps or by the faint light of the street lamps, is in itself a pleasure which few other cities are able to offer.
Besides, here as elsewhere, winter invites one to seek shelter. Here, then, are countless possibilities.
There are hotels and museums with the flavour of old dwellings, elegant theatres, cosy restaurants, cafes and taverns, sparkling boutiques, art galleries and crafts shops.
Regarding these latter ones, it is actually the most suitable moment. Post-Christmas shopping, with its sales, is in fact much sought-after all over the world, and Venice, a city which has always been open to trading, does not fail to show itself at its topmost potential within this ambit.
Big luxury brands are certainly the most desired, just like top designer-goods, and the most popular apparel megastores. Add the production of artistic glass, which the city is proud of, and several handcrafts shops specialised in leather goods, antiques or masks (perhaps the most sought-after souvenir item in Venice nowadays).
Offers branching off from the Rialto and the Saint Mark districts spread throughout town, including the islands. In this sense, for lovers of luxury we may point out the street of Via XXII Marzo, located a few steps from Saint Mark’s Square. Also, the Mercerie (a historical thoroughfare for goods, once featuring canvas and fabrics from the Orient), which goes from the Clock Tower (starting from the Square itself) as far as Rialto.
And here, almost at the bottom of the famous bridge, is the ancient Germans’ Fondaco or warehouse, once an important trading hub, and a luxurious megastore today, dedicated to excellence in the travel sector.
In addition, such an extraordinary selection is joined by another appealing possibility, the large outlet centre at Noventa di Piave, linked with town by transport (regarding this, the Fondaco and many other possibilities, those interested may refer to our advertisers’ pages).
This commercial scenario is flanked by the cultural one featuring art exhibitions.
Beginning from the Doge’s Palace and Renaissance art, with masterpieces from the Flemish museums in From Titian to Rubens. Then there is modern art, with the Peggy Guggenheim, the last dogaressa exhibition dedicated to this great American collector at Ca’ Venier dei Leoni, the current Guggenheim Collection premises (until 27 of this month), and contemporary art, with the anthological exhibition by Luc Tuymans (until 6 January, though) presented by the Pinault Foundation at Palazzo Grassi.
Still for painting, at the turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, this time, this month offers the beautiful anthological display at Ca’ Pesaro on the landscape painter Umberto Moggioli.
Glass continues the panorama, with an exhibition on American artist Thomas Stearn’s work at Venini’s glassworks (until 5 January) at The Rooms of Glass, and the one on Murano master Livio Seguso at the Museum of Glass, in Murano.
Finally, regarding photography, there is an anthological showcase on Sicilian master Ferdinando Scianna on display in the venues of the Casa dei Tre Oci on the Giudecca, and the one on 40 years at the Ikona Gallery at the Levi Foundation.
For this month, we may also mention the New Year concert at La Fenice Theatre and, on the same day, the first of January, the Hibernists’ swim at the Lido island beach; the funny regatta of the Befane on the Grand Canal, on 6 January, the suggestive ice-skating rink in San Polo square and, finally, Memorial Day on 27 January, at the Jewish Museum.
A different opportunity for getting to know the city…

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