The family chapel

imageShame faced I must admit that my absolute requirement for luncheon is air conditioning. There are a million wonderful outdoor restaurants that were calling out to us; I just couldn’t stay in the heat. We followed directions to a place recommended by a bunch of guide books, knowing it was only outside, hoping I’d be willing to sit in the heat when we got there, but, no! Does the necessity of air conditioning make me an ugly American? If so, I embrace the title. And celebrate the Fourth of July. Always disconcerting to spend an American holiday in a foreign land. Not that I expect everyone to celebrate what I celebrate but it always a reminder that what is special for me or mine is just another day for someone else. And vis a versa. Perhaps we could celebrate some special day every day.

I read over yesterday’s offering and was a bit abashed at my complaining; however, to add to the minor irritants of the day, I add that tomorrow, July 5, is the fifth anniversary of David’s death and I am never at my strongest in the days leading up to the anniversary day.

So, forgive the first world complaining. Understand that it was more than the small disturbances of the day.

We visited the basilica San Marco this morning. Most interesting fact is that it was the “chapel” of the doge’s up until the first third of the 19th century. The private chapel was then given to the people and became the basilica. Chapel to basilica. I am too American to understand how one house of worship could be considered both. To be fair, San Marco is smaller that the other great duomos that we’ve seen. Ummm, now I am not sure if it is smaller in square feet but in shape, just shape not decoration, it has a chubbier, square shape. Still in the shape of a cross but a squashed cross not elongated cross of the Florence duomo.

This is not to suggest that it is modest by any means. Gold is everywhere. Walls and ceiling decorated in so many mosaic figures that it is hard to imagine the amount of time and energy it took to create them all. And all of this decoration has had to be renewed and redone to some extent over time. Say every few hundred years. There are no statesmen, politicians or business men here,( at least not noticeably) just saints, Angels, a few Devils and dragons being vanquished and the Christian representation of God. It is the most eastern inspired church we have seen, demonstrating Venice’s connection with both east and west. Madonnas like icons, and some like slightly westernized icons. I tell Julia about the flatness of these pictures and compare them to what she is drawing.

One disappointment is that there is no picture taking in the basilica. I want some and watch dozens of tourists take out cameras, phones and tablets and snap away. I want so much to do the same but Julia reminds me of the rules and I feel I must be the good example.

Again, in this church, we climb to a second landing and get views of the whole inside and the plaza outside. The second landing connects with a ‘party room’ the is above part of the basilica and was once connected to the doge’s palace by means of an enclosed airal bridge. It is filled a permanent exhibit about restoration and original fragments and we go through that slowly. I have told so many bible stories to Julia, explain paintings, sculptures and tapestries that she could be ready for a more Christ centered denomination. There are so many Madonna and child representations but I never realized how much John the Baptist there is. Julia is recognizing a few saints by their clothing. Anyway, back on topic, two thoughts on the party room. First, it is decorated with mythological themes. The mix of Christian and pagan is always of interest. And second, why did the need this party room? The doge’s palace is huge with a number of very large public room that I remember. I’m sure there are more than I’ve seen. So why a room to entertain in above family chapel?

After late lunch, we nap. Julia wants to go out tonight to hear music. A church friend has connected me with other Madison folks who are in Venice. I decide we will meet them for supper and I get my dose of adult conversation. Julia tries for some kid communication with the two kids of the family. She remembers their names after the introduction and remembers too to ask questions but her questions are not those that start conversations, rather they stop any chance of communication. She asks the 13 year old boy, “am I cute?” I can appreciate that she is asking. Appropriate question will come.

There are mosquitoes in Venice and I am getting eaten alive. This is the first place I’ve had to use the repellent and anti-itch cream and I am very, very happy I’ve dragged it throughout Italy. We spray before we go out, sometimes refresh after sweating a lot and then do it again before bed. I saw Venice in the winter 30 years ago. I never thought of it as having nasty mosquitoes. Summer in my world, no matter where I am includes itching and scratching. I am having difficulty getting around this maze of a city, and then remember I’ve been here for almost 30 hours. We walk home in the dark and I feel a bit vulnerable walking small, rather dark streets. We have not been out after dark much during our travels. And I love the dark.

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