Tag Archives: venice

Grandi Navi: Two Demonstrations say “Open Season”

There’s lots of activity around the opening of “cruise season” in Venice, and citizens are mobilizing to continue to protest their presence.

It’s a rainy weekend in the forecast, so it’s hard to say what the participation might be. In the meantime, here’s a rough translation from their Facebook page:

No Grandi Navi ProtestThe cruise season resumes in full force the weekend of April 14 and 15: as many as 9 (nine!) ships will arrive and depart this Saturday and Sunday. The Comitato No Grandi Navi has decided to mobilize now, raising its voice to renew the demand to remove these monsters from the fragile lagoon.

At 15:30 on the 14th, there will be a procession of private boats from San Marcuola to the Canale Grande Bacino of San Marco: citizens, in fact, are invited to repossess their water city in any sort of private boat: rowing, motorboats, sailing, pedal, canoe, kayak, or surfboard! Who doesn’t have a boat, or is on foot, will be transported by the Committee.

It’s important that there’s a lot of us, to give the peaceful sign that we don’t need cruise ships to stay afloat in the lagoon, and that certain ships and the dredging they demand are incompatible, polluting, destructive.

If anyone wants fly a flag or sign or banner that asks the cruise ships to stay out of the lagoon, obviously it would be welcome. Venetians, given free rein to your imagination!

Then, from 14:30 on the 15th, we will set up a garrison along the Zattere with an information point, launching a signature campaign for the ouster of ships from incompatible lagoon.

Drinks, cichèti, and jazz and blues music for everyone!

Please join with us to proclaim that Venice belongs to its citizens, and not to the airlines or cruise ships or the Port Authority.

Boat sflilata of the 14th in Canal Grande
Meet at 15.30 at San Marcuola

Signature Fest, Music & Drinks for all
14:30 on the Zattere 



Biennale Time — still.

With 89 participating nations, 37 collateral venues, the Venice 54th Biennale International Art Exhibition is diverse, expansive…
and still around til November 27.

The frenzied, fervent opening of ILLUMInations, the 54th Biennale seems far away now. During that week in late June, more than 51,000 visitors were estimated to have strolled among, perused, scrutinized, and analyzed the artistic offerings in the Giardini, Arsenale and the numerous collateral exhibitions strewn across the city. It’s unthinkable that anyone who doesn’t have months here could ever view all the works on display in the main and para-pavillions and city-wide venues, not to mention all the concurrent exhibits not officially associated with the Biennale itself. What’s a time-limited traveller to do?


You could choose to start in the still slightly leafy Giardini and immerse yourself in MIKE NELSON’s mesmerizing, alternate time-and-space sculptural installation, whose creation involved a complete restructuring of the Great Britain pavilion (the advice you receive as you enter is “Watch your head, and your step”). Afterward, head down the hill to compare it with the intriguing Francia (France) installation by , and with Czech Republic, where you’ll meander through DOMINIK LANG’s captivating intro-retrospective featuring his own contemporary installation of his father’s “sleeping witnesses” from the 1950s.

Don’t miss the Central Pavilion that, unlike dedicated national pavilions, hosts works by a wide assortment of artists. As startling today as it likely was in its own time, TINTORETTO’s “The Last Supper” traveled across the lagoon from its home for the last 420 years at San Giorgio Maggiore to form the centerpiece there along with two other monumental works; MAURIZIO CATTELAN’s Others, stuffed pigeons pervasively perched outside the pavilion and in, perhaps recalling their prevalence in Piazza San Marco, keep watch overhead. They contrast markedly with the “invisible painting” of Swiss/New York artist BRUNO JACOB, created with, among other things, water and steam.

Cross the canal bridge to reach the Austrian pavilion. It’s not necessary to understand the precise intention of MARKUS SCHINWALD’s intriguing yet subtly disturbing juxtapositions of time, subject matter, and artistic medium to be drawn in by them; the labyrinth of corridors that presents each work contributes significantly to their effect.

The Greek pavilion offers DOHANDI’s profound, minimalist respite at the opposite end of the park, Poland’s YAEL BARTANA has expertly crafted the tongue-in-cheek  …and Europe will be Stunned, a three-video presentation; 30 days of Running in the Space is EGYPT’s tribute to beloved artist and activist AHMED BASIONY, who was downed by snipers in Tahrir Square on the Friday of Wrath.


If you instead choose to tour the Arsenale which features a number of emerging countries this year, you may choose to turn the corner at the end of the Corderie and take in a bit of “The Clock,” Swiss-American CHRISTIAN MARCLAY’s 24-hour film in which every clip refers to the actual time of day. It’s a masterfully edited piece relating past to present that will engross you for as long as you choose to stay and watch.


The Biennale extends far beyond the confines of the garden pavilions and Arsenale, installed in some of the most evocative and rarely accessible venues in the city. Take vaporetto Line 62 from the Giardini Biennale stop to Spirito Santo on the Zattere; you’ll be deposited directly in front of the Emporio die Sali, the old salt warehouses (themselves worthy of a visit even without the art). There you’ll find “The Future of a Promise,” a pan-Arab collateral exhibition featuring 22 artists and presenting an extraordinary range of refined works that soar through the expansive warehouse space. Across town at the Scuola della Misericordia is Jan FABRE’s striking Pietas, an installation consisting of marble sculpture reflected in golden flooring — an impressive building in its own right that could not have been put to much more impressive use.


Finally, TRA: The Edge of Becoming is not a part of the 54th Biennale — but could easily be (they even have the same closing dates). The impeccable renovation of the Palazzo Fortuny  makes it an extraordinary exhibition structure, and one of the few that could display TRA’s over 300 works in any coherent way. Artists represented include notables Rodin, Duchamp, Fontana, Kapoor, and Lèger to name a few, with many contemporary artists’ works commissioned specifically for the exhibition.

There are few visitors who wouldn’t enjoy adding this edition of the Biennale to their itinerary anytime before November 27th. For the frequent visitor, it adds a present day dimension to an already beloved destination.

54th Biennale Venice International Art Exhibition

thru Nov 27th, 2011
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closed Mondays (except  August 15th, October 31st and November 21st, 2011)

€20 (full), discounts for students and seniors.

Entrance fees for collateral exhibitions vary (many are free)


Giardini Biennale (Lines 41/42, Lines 51/52, Lines 61/62)
Giardini (Line 1)


Entrance, Calle della Tana
Arsenale (Line 1, 41/42)

There is a Biennale Navetta transfer from the Giardini to the Arsenale; and also a shortcut between the back of the Giardini and and top of the Arsenale.

Take a Number: Venice Vaporetti regroup

Lines Stay the Same, Only the Numbers Change (but not all of them).

As of November 2, 2011, ACTV Spa and the City of Venice will implement a new numbering system for vaporetto public transport lines. The changes also include a new landing system that uses numbers, colors and letters which could, should help newcomers find the landing they’re looking for more quickly. Speriamo bene.

The new system does not affect routes and frequencies, just the numbering and organization.

Line changes include:

Line DM direct to Murano becomes Line 3
Lines 41/42 51/52 become 4.1/4.2 and 5.1/5.2 (n.1 runs counterclockwise, n.2 clockwise)
Lines 61/62 become Line 6
Line 5 from San Zaccaria to Murano becomes Line 7
Line T serving Burano-Torcello becomes Line 9
CLODIA Raphael which travels between Chioggia and Venice will be the new LINE 19

Other significant changes relate to the LN (Laguna Nord) which, while keeping the route and frequencies, will be split into 4 sections:

• Line 10 is the direct Lido – S.Marco Giardinetti shuttle (navetta)
• Line 12 serves F.Nove – Burano – Treporti – Punta Sabbioni
• Line 14 connects S.Zaccaria Pietà – Lido – Punta Sabbioni, while
• 14L (limited) serves Punta Sabbioni-Lido

Finally, there is a new Line 22 which serves Punta Sabbioni – F.te Nove – Tre Archi which has been a special line will now become a regualar one.

Easy as A-B-C

At larger piers like Piazzale Roma, the railway station, Rialto area, Fondamente Nove, San Zaccaria, and more, you’ll notice that the landings will also be identified with a capital letter placed on the entrance of the pier. This letter will also appear on the maps along the ACTV quais, and will associate the vaporetto lines with the landings that  serve them. The letters will also appear on the LED signage indicating departures and times.


With any luck and a little patience, this new system should benefit both locals and travelers, who normally have little time to get up to speed on vaporetto usage.

For more information, see the ACTV site (in Italian).

(By the way: the Vap Map has already been updated with the new lines and routes. Be sure to get yours before your arrival in Venice!)

Alajmo Art & “Fluid Light” Revive Ristorante Quadri

The news has got around by now the the Alajmo brothers of Le Calandre fame have taken the one-and-only Ristorante Quadri* under their wing — and, as is their habit, they are aiming for the sky.

Most know the famosissimo Quadri for the caffè; others have dined at the historic, classic restaurant upstairs, the only one on Piazza. The old girl has gotten quite a lift since Max (the youngest chef ever to receive three stars from Michelin) and Raf set up shop earlier this year, and deservedly so.

Some things haven’t changed. The massive Murano chandelier still illuminates intricate ironwork and red brocade tufted walls; in the evening, light shimmers through Roman shades draped over wide windows perched above the Piazza. But look closer: the new drapes are a dramatic gauzy black, classic linen tablecloths are knotted around and underneath to expose gracefully carved pedestals; gotò inspired glassware freshens elegant place settings as do transparent red bread dishes in the form of a painter’s palette, testament that chef Massimiliano’s artistry extends beyond the kitchen; you’ll discover it in almost every aspect of the restaurants’ decor, design, and artwork.

That is precisely what inspired the 12 courses we were served that warm summer’s day at the Quadri. The LuceFluida menu coincides with the Biennale; Le Calandre and the Quadri each serve a different versions through November 27. You could even consider them collateral exhibitions.

 (Nan McElroy)The intention, according to Massimiliano, “is to bring the concept of light to food;” he calls it an edible art event, and so it is. That little red palette bread dish might as well have been loaded with textures and tastes from mostardo to mousse, from creamy to crunchy croccante, from delicate to hearty, peppery to sweet to spicy to positively explosive. You don’t have much trouble imagining the kitchen as artist studio, with the cooks working along side Executive Chef Silvio Giavedoni whisking and swiping and searing and dotting to create each portata effortlessly and expertly, swept out just at right moment to present to the delighted guest.

Presentation, in fact, takes on a completely different meaning in the context of the Lucefluida meal. There is an accompanying notebook, with whimsical designs and inspired phrases and poems for each course — all by Max’s hand, of course — and the possibility to record lingering impressions as they come to you. Invention isn’t limited to only the fare —  but it’s best not to get any more specific, it’ll just ruin the surprise. (There are quite a few surprises, in fact; it pays to stay flexible.)

Of course there is a traditional menu as well as two other tasting menus; don’t expect the Alajmo team to contain themselves there either, Biennale or no. Suffice it to say the the meal is extraordinary, right down to the wine pairings which open with the Reims Vieille France Champagne to the Anselmi passito for dessert. A meal at the Quadri is an airy, yet intensely memorable celebration of abbinamento, the deft combining of all aspects of the dining experience, in an ambience unique in all the world. Squisito.


Ristorante Quadri (upstairs)

Lunch, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Dinner, 7:30 – 10:30 pm

Closed Monday

*One footnote: the restoration/renovation of the Grancaffè downstairs is underway as we speak. Look for news on that soon.

When does a visit become an assault?

Translated from an article by Marco Petricca in La Nuova Venezia:

At 9am, the onslaught begins. 33,000 day cruisers begin to disembark in groups of a thousand at a pop, from 7 massive ships and 2 ferries. It’s a surge that continues uninterrupted until 5pm, when these floating cities start to sail away.

There’s not a moment’s pause in this Venetian August: thousands of vacationers head for the People Mover to transfer to Piazzale Roma, although the tram was overwhelmed yesterday with endless lines and inconvenience. The tram runs every three minutes, each car jammed full of passengers dragging suitcases and rolling bags. Those meeting them on their return drag buggies, shopping bags and water bottles.

Before 10am, the line at the People Mover station to Piazzale Roma already spans the distance between the exit of the port and the tram ticketing machine [about 1/2 mi]. Those who get fed up decide to cross the roundabout in front of the port entrance and walk instead, keeping an eye out for trucks and vans that whiz into and out of the port and dodging the snake of cars before as they arrive to undergo VTP security checks.

Definitely in the minority are those who take the sidewalk to reach Piazzale Roma. But still there are plenty and form long, single file lines along the side of the road, halting road traffic at crosswalks.

They all make their way to Piazzale Roma, hampered by barriers and contruction work, but eventually finding themselves at the foot of Calatrava bridge. At this point they accelerate their pace: smiling faces; smiling, smiling.

The mass of tourists [ignores alternate routes and] follows itself, bound intently for the center [and Piazza San Marco], so much so that the expansive riva in front of Saint Lucia station is already thronging with people.

At 11.30, lines begin to form in reverse: at Piazzale Roma and below the entrance of the tram. There’s plenty of People Mover staff available, giving directions and attempting to regulate the line. One of the three tram railway ticketing machines is broken and the line continues to grow; increasing the chaos are commuters and those who come this way because the Tronchetto bus isn’t running due to the construction in Piazzale Roma. Those arriving don’t add much to the problem, though; it’s mostly due to the large number of those who are heading in the opposite direction.

They merge with the other tourists who, numbering at least in the hundreds, come rushing out of Saint Lucia train station, heading straight for the cruise ships, via the People Mover.

At noon, the line is so long that it blocks the cars leaving the Garage San Marco, complicating the traffic trying to get into the port and the municipal garage. The trouble spreads over the entire traffiic chain: the information points, bars, tobacco shop, the kiosk of the hotels, all overwhelmed by the crowds.

• top photo courtesy Venice in Peril