It’s a brilliant day here; it’s also -3, or about 25 degrees Fahrenheit. I just looked out the window to the canal below, and noticed a film skimming the surface of the water surrounding the boat where some workers are loading materials for a massive garden they’re refurbishing. What, I thought indignantly, is that some sort of detergent residue oozing out of their boat?
Nope. It’s ice.
People sometimes ask if the canals ever freeze over. Well, I certainly have never seen it myself, although I know they have from time to time…but not often. There’s a depiction by Gabiel Bella in the Querini-Stampalia of people skating on a solid-surface lagoon, so obviously, it’s gotten a lot worse than a skimming of ice! The lagoon is fairly shallow where the ice is showing up in the above photo, so I don’t imagine we’ll be frozen over here anytime soon. Supposed to snow on Thursday, though.
That’s a great little collection, by the way, in the palazzo and museo Querini-Stampalia on Campo Santa Maria Formosa. Gabriel Bella is less of a Venetian master than a master chronicler, and provides a delightful opportunity to relive a little of i tempi passati, times gone by. There are paintings of political events, the Doge’s Palace in action, ceremonies, festas, pastimes, etc. There’s a depiction of the Tiepolo revolt (you know, the Vecia del Morter), a marriage at the Salute, one of the famous fights on the Ponte dei Pugni, and one of my favorites, the Ridotto, the notorious 17c gambling house that was practically the ruin of the Venetian nobility, so much so that they finally ordered the Ridotto closed (and where in order to play you had to wear the famous bauta costume, comprised of the white larva mask, a tricorno trimmed in white lace, and woolen cape).
The Querini is far too often overlooked by travelers. Stop by to see the Bellini family portrait (in the guise of Gesù being presented at the Temple), painted by Giovanni (he’s the one looking at you), and the spectacular renovation by genious architect Paolo Scarpa, just for starters.
What does that have to do with ice, for heavens sake? Oh well, back to work…