Deep Travel Discounts, An Unexpected Meeting With Peggy Guggenheim Plus The 6th Highest Acqua Alta!
There's no place in the world like Venice.
|Arthur - Midnight in Piazza San Marco|
I traveled to Venice in November 2012 with my friend Bud Santora to do research for my upcoming novel, Aqua Alta. The title in Italian means high water and refers to the annual flooding of the city that occurs commonly between September and February. I was hoping there would be an aqua alta while I visited and boy, did I get what I asked for. More about that later. But two of the perks traveling off season are...less people and it's less expensive.
|Riding In Private Water Taxi|
The exact same trip - four nights out of JFK - if booked on my own came to approximately $1,593.33 per person. Booked through Gate 1 it came to $794.60. Everything was in order and went smoothly and exactly as planned. But if at anytime there is a mix-up, you have direct contact with Gate 1 who will help you. (No, I don't work for them but I'd love to buy some stock in their company.)
(Note to self: When flying for long periods of time, never ever wear comfortable nylon shell workout pants on a plane. All night long during the flight over I kept slipping out of my seat.)
|Yes, That Tower Is Leaning!|
|Katharine Hepburn - Summertime|
When we touched down at the airport in Venice there was a man waiting for us, checked that everything was in order and with one other couple we walked a short pathway to our boat. Total cost to take us to our hotel and back again to the airport when we were leaving was about $62 for both of us! $31 a piece/$15.50 each way. It was so worth it. And the boat was a beautiful wood paneled type you see in the movies. Think The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. Actually, don't. It's a terrible film. The movie you should watch is Summertime with Katharine Hepburn. Directed by David Lean in 1955, the story is a bit silly but everything is shot on location and Venice still looks gloriously the same today.
|A Room With A View|
|Room # 303|
We spent the first day getting our bearings and soaking up
|Bud At An Outdoor Cafe|
|Osteria Al Sacro e Profano|
These establishments are where the locals hang out and Julia shared tons of history and interesting anecdotes about Venice and its people. I really enjoyed Osteria Al Sacro e Profano. Run by a brother and sister team, it embodied the true spirit of a Venetian osteria. And across the alley way above our heads was this amazing little fresco of a gondola. This food and wine crawl changed our whole perspective of Venice.
Day two we strolled over to the Venice Biennale. This year marks its 55th season. A triumph
A late lunch at a cafe clinging to the side of a canal and we were off exploring again. In Venice, just walking around is like being in a museum. But I had never been to the famed Peggy Guggenheim and really wanted to experience it. But as we approached the Accademia Bridge to cross the Grand Canal, it was Bud who noticed
|We Had Palazzo Cavalli To Ourselves!|
|Bertil Vallien Murano Glass|
|Peggy Guggenheim Museum|
She not only collected stunning artwork by Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollack, Max Ernst and many others, but she was also lovers with several of them, not to mention Samuel Beckett. If interested to know more about this extremely eccentric woman, read Edmund White's City Boy who was friends with her in the 60s and 70s.
In fact, after soaking up as much art and culture as I could, I went out into the garden courtyard and sat on a stone chair to gather my strength to walk all the way back towards our hotel. I pulled out my iPad and started to read chapter 11 in Edmund's book. He says that Peggy wasn't lazy, but bored. The only passion she had in her life was to make sure that she and her beloved Lhasa Apsos could be buried in her garden. Well, it's against Venetian law not to be buried in a cemetery but Peggy said she'd donate her palace and priceless artwork to the city if they could be buried underneath her stone Byzantine chair. And they were.
Oh. My. God. I'm sitting on Peggy Guggenheim!
|Peggy And Her Beloved Dogs|
Next Post Will Be Venice (Part 2) - Film, Food and Flooding!