The passing of time. An ever-constant flow, which people have always tried to regulate.
The ancient Greeks used to represent it as an endless circular motion…
At that time, sciences like medicine, magic and astrology were all connected. And Venice could certainly not avoid having an important reference for celebrating the passing of time.
It was February 1499 when a tower appeared, overlooking the square that celebrates Saint Mark: it houses one of the three existing clocks in the world with mechanical movements. It is the Clock Tower.
This clock was the most developed and technologically advanced one in those times, with movements not just on its dial, but also at the Madonna’s level (with a carousel of statues representing the Nativity) and on top, with its famous Moors striking the hour.
It may be admired on our cover picture, from its northern side fronting the Mercerie, once the most important street in town, connecting the political and religious centre of Saint Mark to the commercial hub at Rialto.
A masterpiece, one of the many ones which Venice is offering its visitors during this Christmas period but, as mentioned above, also a symbol of the passing of time, and of the hope that with the arrival of Christmas and the new year, a new, positive message of peace may be conveyed to the world from a city which has witnessed the flow of history.
December in Venice
As we mentioned, the Clock Tower is a part of the immense architectural and museum heritage belonging to Venice, and in particular of a foundation, the Venice City Museums (MUVE), which manages, preserves and enhances an important part of the town’s museum system with its 11 museums and over 700,000 works of art. They include the Ducal or Doge’s Palace museum and the Correr museum which are part, together with the Marciana National Library and the Archaeological museum, of the unified circuit of the Museums of Saint Mark’s Square.
Further important collections must be added, starting with the State museums (Galleries of the Accademia, the Franchetti Gallery…) plus privately managed museums (the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, the Punta della Dogana, the Querini Stampalia Picture gallery…).
Not only, regarding artistic and cultural heritage, a very important part is the one represented by churches, firstly and above them all, by the Basilica of Saint Mark, flanked for importance by the ones of the Sainted glorious Mary of the Friars and of the Saints John and Paul. But what is the reason that has led us to this?
There are at least two of them. Firstly, because we believe a good knowledge of the city starts in fact from its history and therefore from the collections illustrating it, and secondly, because we think that the winter period is really the most suitable one, maybe the most encouraging one, for discovering the city from a different aspect, perhaps the most concealed one, represented by the romantic fascination of its palaces, which preserve true treasure-troves of art and history nowadays.
Perhaps this is also the reason why the City Museums have envisaged a gift for their visitors, by extending opening hours until 11pm at their two main museums, the Ducal and the Correr during the ideal days for the Immaculate Conception bank holiday (3 -7 December) and from 17 to 9 January. On this date, the Civic Museums will also be open every day.
Together with its museums, its art exhibitions are another opportunity for getting to know the city. Following the International Architecture Exhibition closure a few days ago, the exhibitions scenario is continuing to offer interesting cues, starting from the showcase with which the city is celebrating its 1600year-old history anniversary at the Ducal Palace itself, inside the chambers which once belonged to the Doge.
Titled Venice 1600, births and rebirths, it recounts certain crucial moments in the history of the city through a selection of extraordinary work by artists, architects and men of letters, from its very birth to the second most disastrous high-water flooding in its history, the one in 2019. The exhibitions ambit is also featuring: for the contemporary, a solo exhibition by Bruce Nauman at the Punta della Dogana; for modern art, Migrating Objects at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; for design, Tapio Wirkkala and Toni Zuccheri in the Rooms of Glass at Venini’s and Tony Cragg at the Glass Museum; for photography, Mario De Biasi at the TreOci venue, and HyperVenezia at Palazzo Grassi. Two interesting exhibitions on display at Palazzo Franchetti are still ongoing during this period: Campigli and the Etruscans and Power & Prestige, the latter promoted by the Ligabue Foundation.
Finally, may we draw attention to the exhibition dedicated to the new Emergency Centre for Paediatric Surgery in Uganda planned by Renzo Piano.
The winter period also naturally tempts one towards shows. In addition to the many concerts in palaces, there are the programmes at the theatres, starting from La Fenice Theatre which will end the month with its much anticipated New Year’s concert presented over three evenings. Prose and commedia dell’arte will be the protagonists instead at the Carlo Goldoni Theatre and at the small but suggestive L’Avogaria Theatre.
In addition to such events, which we are listing as far as possible in the following pages, there is the engaging Christmas atmosphere offered by lighting effects, with twinkling windows in boutiques and shops, traditional street-markets, the ice rink at Campo San Polo square and, of course, the many churches where one may admire nativity scenes and works of art, and attend concerts and functions: among them all, the ones on Christmas Eve and Day officiated by the Patriarch of Venice within the Basilica of St.Mark.