Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Venice, Byron, Browning, Ruskin, Singer Sargent etc

After our week by the Italian lake Orta, the Hub and I, abandoning our hire car, travelled to Venice by train - just as I was getting used to driving on the right (wrong) side of the road, controls on the right (wrong) and hair pin bends etc but obviously one does not need a car in La Serenissima.

Friends met at Orta GS had recommended we get a week's season ticket on the vaporetti - 'It feels like you're travelling for free,' they said. And it saved us a fortune. Great to ride up and down the Grand Canal as many times as we wished, or hop on and off at various places - even all the way out to the Lido (to sit on the veranda of the Hotel des Bains where Visconti filmed 'Death in Venice' where a tiramisu cup and coffee cost more than a 6-7 course meal elsewhere and where service took so long the Hub declared he now knew what the chap (name? played by Dirk Bogarde) died of: obviously it was starvation.

Ca'Rezzonico chose to go to as owned by Browning. (Not the poet, tho he died there, I later discovered, but his son, Pen Barret Browning). The visit a homage to 'My Last Duchess' being the first poem that hit me with such dramatic force that I am still reeling, and opened my eyes to poetry. Probably the reason why I chose to read English at university and not try for art school and why I write so many dramatic monologues myself -the most influential poem in my entire career. As callow 14-15 year olds we were introduced to it by our wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Bainbridge (not Beryl but Ivy) who also introduced us to Tennyson (The Lady of Shalot) - not so shattering, Keats (St. Agnes' Eve)- also influential.

Also I read the biography of Elizabeth Barret Browning some time ago - (As school girls we had also acted a one-act play in our school's House drama competition about her lying on a sofa being tyrannized by her father, and her salvation and freedom when Browning took her away) but the biography left me with a rather more depressive impression of her continued drug addiction (laudenam - sp?), her 'little girl' mannerisms she never grew out of and general Black Cloud of negativity. So a few illusions fostered by the play were shattered. Ca'Rezzonico was also very dark and gloomy - like so many of these palaces which keep their shades down to preserve the art work (and also necessary in the summer heat). The vast ball-room was stupenduous - don't know if the Brownings owned this, or only an upper floor flat. (The Mezzanine is dedicated to Browning.)If so poets, earned a bit more than they do now. (Tho it was Pen's, the son's). So some research to do.

If you're interested, I have written about the art I saw in my art blog 'Wandering round Art Galleries..'
Yes, we did spot the palazzo Byron wrote Don Juan in (and kept his monkeys,dogs and foxes. No mention of the giraffe?), learnt that Singer Sergeant had also stayed at Ca'Rezzonico, noted the one Henry James wrote 'The Aspern Papers' in, and not sure, but think I spotted which one was the Mosca family's (of Francesco/BBC 4 documentary about Venice fame); went to the Pensione Calcina, a restaurant on a pier opposite house where Ruskin ( he of the art must 'burn like a clear, bright flame') stayed on the Zattere, Dorsoduro. Wonderful to sit above the expanse of darkening waters and see the lights on the Guidecca on the far side, and port and starboard lights of passing ships. There are few places to sit by the water on the Grand Canal (apart from the over-priced, overcrowded Rialto) so the Zattere was a find.
We did not discover where Vivaldi's orphanage was - a reason to return - but you can hear 'The Four Seasons' almost every other night at various churches. No thanks, much as I love it but know far too well. I do hope the Venetians have a more varied concert diet to get them through the winter.

Some Venetian poems may result - I hope. Plenty of notes taken - and thousands of photos. I actually got photoed out. It is too tempting not to look with one's eyes, or scribble notes for possible poems, with those digital thingies. I was leaning on Ca'd'Oro's first floor balustrade over the Grand Canal when a vaporetto went by. As it came level, the boat exploded into silver fireworks -the flashes of everyone's camera going off. And I am one of the worst. Made resolution then to put camera away, and get notebook out.

No comments:

Popular Posts