Friday, March 11, 2016

Venice: Morning of Day 2

My second day in Venice was blessed with sunshine, blue skies, and still somehow a relatively empty city. While wandering near Campo Manin, I followed some signs through a series of tight streets and came upon the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. I turned a corner and there it was, the most incredible spiral tower rising from a quiet garden courtyard, bathed in morning light, with nobody else around. It truly felt like discovering hidden treasure.

Scala Contarini del Bovolo in Venice

The Scala del Bovolo (which means spiral staircase in local dialect) was built at the end of the 1400's and there is some uncertainty as to who the architect was. One of my favorite aspects of the tower is that its arches get progressively smaller, with the top arches being half the height of the ones at the base. This creates the visual illusion that the tower is even taller than it actually is.

Spiral Staircase Venice Italy

I slowly climbed the spiral stairs, stopping to admire and photograph at each turn. What a treat to have this all to myself.

Panoramic View of Venice from Scala Contarini del Bovolo

At the very top of the tower, there is a 360-degree view of Venice. I loved this angle with St. Mark's framed in one of the arches. As it was a clear day, I could even see all the way to the snow-covered Alps in the distance. This experience was such a gift.

After leaving the Palazzo Contarini, I made my way across the city to the Cannareggio district. Several months before my trip to Italy, I'd come across an image of a church on Instagram that left me drop-jawed: the Chiesa dei Gesuiti (aka Santa Maria Assunta). I am a big fan of rococo and all things overly ornamented, but this church really impressed me because of its exquisite patterned marble interior (which inspired Fortuny's most famous fabric design, among others).

I Gesuiti church in Venice Italy

The interior of the Gesuiti church didn't disappoint. How incredible were these craftsmen in the 1700's?? All of that marble patterning is inlay, done by hand. I've never seen anything like it in my life. What a breathtaking effect.

Patterned Marble Interior of I Gesuiti Church in Venice Italy

Before leaving, I lit a candle for the ladies in my life. This is a ritual that brings me peace and hope, despite not being Catholic. The first time I ever lit a candle in a church was in Athens, at age 17, with the mother of my friend Lambros. Ever since it's been something I enjoy, especially while traveling.

Madonna and Prayer Candles at Church in Venice Italy

After all of that patterning and art and divinity, I needed a break. I found a small courtyard cafe in an adjacent building and took a moment for a macchiato and an apricot cookie. Again, I had the place to myself. The scene was so lovely that I decided to do a quick sketch. This was my favorite "Table for One" moment of the trip. Quiet, calm, challenging, and refreshing.

Sketch of Arches in Venice Italy by Ali Amaro

Next up? Island adventures in the afternoon of Day 2.

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