In the morning, I wrote postcards, then found a post-office and bought stamps and posted them (such small victories are the pleasures of negotiating life in a foreign country). I then went to my local supermarket and bought orange juice and yoghurt and some prosecco (can we get prosecco in Canada, I wonder?)
Then I went to the Peggy Guggenheim museum and had a lovely time looking at modern art. The museum itself is a lovely space, an oasis of shade and quiet and serenity amongst all the hustle and bustle of Venice. I don't really know much about Peggy and now want to find out more (and will look her up once I have more reliable and leisurely internet service). I bought a postcard of her looking very jolly in a mask that looked like horrible fifties wing glasses, and surrounded by small hairy dogs. There's a gravestone in the garden with the names of all her dogs - this kind of gesture I appreciate, as you can imagine. Of the art, I was thrilled to see one of Brancusi's abstract bird sculptures, one that is referenced in a poem I've taught. I loved Magritte's "The Empire of Light" and the works by Peggy's friend Peggeen, who obviously died young but who painted bright cheerful vaguely primitive scenes a bit like early Matisse.
After the museum, I plucked up the courage for the first time to go into one of the zillions of little street-side bars and order a glass of prosecco and a couple of cichetta's (little snacks). This was in a place quite near the museum, seemingly frequented by students and arty types. Anyway - I enjoyed it, and maybe now will feel more comfortable trying again. All these new things are so much harder to do when you're on your own, and all the fluttering around trying to make yourself understood.
Then I just wandered around, people watching, snapping photos and generally enjoying the sunshine and the surroundings. I had gelato from what is reputed to be one of the best gelateries in Venice. It was good (cheesecake and tiramisu flavours today), but lost marks for snoot.
I returned to find my landlady just finishing up her cleaning. She and her boyfriend had managed to prop up my bed (with a pile of books, appropriately enough) and the boyfriend is supposed to be coming back tomorrow to fix it.
June 23 would have been my mother's 86th birthday, so through the enjoyment of being here I felt a little sad, missing her, and wishing I was able to share some of these pleasures with her. I lit a candle for her in the beautiful little church of St John the Baptist that I visited today (this is the church, by the way, where Vivaldi was baptised). While I was there, a group of worshippers came in and started a chant and responses in gorgeous harmony, and I was filled with light.
St George is beginning to be a theme of this holiday. Not only did I stumble upon him in London, but the Scuola of San Giorgio degli Schiavoni is one of the lovelier places I've visited - a real little gem. The walls in the main entry room are covered with pictures by Carpacchio of the deeds of St George, and they are beautiful. Upstairs, there's a chapel, with an altar also depicting St G killing the dragon. Over the sill of the exit door there was a faint Maltese cross (woo hoo, shades of the Da Vinci code!)
I also noticed several little bas reliefs of St G and the dragon in the nearby streets.
All this was in the Castello region of the city, which I traversed on my way to look at the Bienalle exhibits, which I did, but not before I had the most exceptional lunch.
I don't have owlfish's facility with food writing, so can't do the description full justice, but I'll try. This was at the Hostaria di Franz, a restaurant rated number one among the users at TripAdvisor; it's in the area of the Bienalle gardens, so convenient for my art mission. The owner (Franz?) is a large, bald man with a slightly walrus-like face and a brusque manner. However, he obviously cares about his food, takes great care of his customers, and when you tell him how much you enjoyed the meal his face splits into a delightful grin. He was wearing a bright yellow polo shirt, orange pants and bright red shoes, which may say something about his character.
Anyway, the meal.
First course: baby octopodes marinated in balsamic vinegar and tossed with chopped arugula, alongside sardines piled up with onions, raisins and pine nuts, both accompanied with a smooth polenta.
Second course: the Venetian specialty of cuttlefish risotto cooked in its own ink - this came sprinkled with fresh chopped basil, and had a subtle, slightly sweet taste, the rice cooked perfectly al dente and the pieces of cuttlefish tender and mild.
The main course: sea bass, marinated in lemon and other things and served with fresh herbs and fine olive oil, accompanied by cooked cherry tomatoes and some mache and arugula. All this was washed down with a couple of glasses of nice white wine.
Thence to the Bienalle, which is a famous international exhibit of art in odd numbered years and architecture in even ones. It's all very avant garde, and some of it left me quite cold, but some was effective. The German pavilion was filled with what seemed to be a maze of Ikea kitchen cabinets, which led you to a stuffed cat in the center. There is an accompanying story about a cat that can talk. It's all rather post-modern and beguiling. The Canadian pavilion had looping films of different aspects of street life - moments in time - which were rather good. I liked the Russian pavilions and the Danish/Norwegian one. By this time, I was rather tired and also cold (the day started overcast and muggy but turned to cool and rainy, and I was dressed more for warm weather), so although I did not perhaps get full value for my admission ticket I came home.