Friday, October 25, 2013

Crystal Glass playing

I know you can get some beautiful sounds from crystal. I've heard people "ring" it by striking it (lightly, of course) or by rubbing their finger around the top of the bowl. I have never heard anyone play crystal the way this man did.
We were wandering the street of Venice one morning when we saw a crowd. Well, if there's a crowd, there must be a reason so we checked it out. I was astonished to hear him playing - wish we had been there for the entire performance!
Didn't know that glass could be so versatile. The glass apparently vibrates and when you add water, it varies the pitch of the sound. He has to keep his fingers wet - I actually watched 5 or 6 times before I saw him dipping his fingers in a cup to keep them wet. I've seen glass struck before but never rubbed like this. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Venice Bridges

Our bridge - with Mary checking
out the views!
Now, you can’t have a bunch of islands interconnected without bridges, LOTS of bridges. There are literally hundreds of bridges here, from very tiny bridges, to huge bridges spanning the Grand Canal. The infinite variety is amazing – brick is the primary building material but the myriad of ways they put them together gives you a never ending variety of different bridges. Sadly, even though they were all different, I still spent the majority of my time being lost and positive that all the bridges, or at least that the majority, looked alike.
The "modern" Constitution Bridge

The major bridges over the Grand Canal were a bit easier to identify. The Rialto bridge had stores (the spendy ones, of course) that lined the span across the water. They did keep the stores in the center, allowing for space for gawkers to photograph the never ending scenes on the water. The Constitution Bridge was spectacular with its steel construction of great red tubes holding up the concrete and glass walkway.  Acadamia Bridge was a large, wooden bridge that connected some of the college and other institutions on the island.
With laundry, of course

Metal worked bridge
The smaller, nameless bridges were harder to identify. They connected the hundreds of little islands, the meandering streets, the homes and businesses that abound on this tiny community. Some of them were really not very high at all – the drivers of the boats had to duck WAY down to get under!

We found one area where a group of 5 bridges came together. There was one major "post" in the center with the various bridges fanning out to take you across the main canal or one of the smaller side ones. Reminded us of the many bridges over roads in Japan.


Windows on Venice

View from our window
Venice is actually built on a large group of lots of small islands, islands that originally started as farm land for Italians escaping various conquerors routing through the country. Eventually they stayed, building their homes and towns. The result we see is an interconnected, random web of streets and alleyways with innumerable bridges, large and small, over the meandering canals.  We wandered round and round, getting lost, finding ourselves, even making a full loop, unexpectedly being deposited on our doorstep. The best part is that there are no cars to dodge, no bikes racing down the paths, only a few little scooters for the smallest kids. A very addicting lifestyle!

The Turkish influence
Wow – the views of Venice are many and varied! There’s no telling what you’re going to be viewing on the next corner, though I will say there were lots of canals, brickworks, fascinating windows and colorful clothing just hanging around. I’m going to start with views of windows here. Venice was an extremely successful trading hub at one time. The hundreds of different settlers and merchants brought with them their origins, their concept of what buildings look like. Since many were very wealthy, large palaces sprung up all over the islands. What is left is an amazing array of buildings across the town. 

An upper floor apartment - with a nice view
2nd story window - reflecting the
walkway below
Many of the buildings, particularly those that are found along the Grand Canal (the major, widest canal through Venice) were the old palaces. Anyone with money would build their rather large home prominently on the main canal. I don't know that many of them have a single family residing in them any more. Many of the ones we saw have been put to multiple uses with restaurants or other shops on the ground floor, and apartments places above. Some of the grandest palaces have been turned into hotels, catering to the tourists - the main source of income for the islands. Check out the reflections on the right - there were quite a few windows that picked up unexpected views of the surrounding area.