12.05.2014 - 12.05.2014 68 °F
After departing San Giorgio Maggiore, we decide to take a stroll through the Dorsoduro district, an area we missed on our previous visit to Venice. Our first stop is the minor Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, dedicated the the Virgin Mary in the 1600's in the hopes that Venice would be spared from the plague.
The church is a vast octagonal rotunda, and it's mind boggling to realize that it's foundation is thousands of wooden pilings driven into the mud of the lagoon nearly 400 years ago.
Leaving the Basilica, we wander through the quiet back streets of Dorsoduro. It's altogether more peaceful here than the hustle and bustle of Rialto and San Marco. We pass many art galleries and small workshops, a completely different experience than the tourist ticky-tack that inundates other parts of Venice.
From across a canal, we spot woodworkers cutting timbers on an old bandsaw. They're making replacement oarlocks for gondolas, and the shop is filled with handmade pieces designed, not for the tourists, but for the real Venetians plying their trades in the city.
As we stroll through the quite campos, we come across a lutist, playing melodies on a beautiful old instrument. We chat with him for bit before he plays a song for us. The lute is a quiet instrument, but it's airy strains still fill the small campo.
Further on, we encounter a shop filled with sculpted wood. Rather than practical boat parts, this shop features fanciful objects, like coats, underwear, valises, and socks...all fashioned from wood with an amazing eye for realism and detail.
Eventually we arrive at the Accademia Bridge, and cross over.
Purely by accident, we stumble across an exhibition of DaVinci reproductions at the decommissioned church of S. Barnabas. We hem and haw a bit at the price, but ultimately decide to pony up and go in. The space inside is filled with accurate models made from DaVinci's designs, and we spend a pleasant hour browsing through.
Finally, we swing by Ca' Macana, one of the more famous artisanal mask shops in Venice. Indeed, in addition to beautiful renditions of classic Bauta and Plague Doctor masks, the shop features some very unusual steampunk-inspired works as well.
We stop by Do Spado near the Rialto for cicchetti tonight, enjoying some stuffed squid and other tasty goodies, along with an umbra or two of their house red. It's a tiny little place, tucked under a sotoporteggio, and we hang around outside for a bit, watching other patrons, to understand "how it's done". Easy really. Point to what you want, find a seat, and they'll heat it up and drop it off at your table. Very informal, and very tasty. Just be sure to ask for an "umbra"...if you just ask for wine, you'll get their more expensive product, rather than the house red. When you're done, just go to the counter, and pay your tab. Prices aren't marked, but nothing is more than a Euro or two per portion.
Tomorrow, we take a day trip to Padua.