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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Venice - Day 4

Our day starts with a visit to the Rialto markets

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One of things we were happy to find here was Castradina. What is castradina? Well it is this

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a salted and smoked mutton that is the main ingredient for a dish that traditionally is made tomorrow to celebrate the Festa della Madonna della Salute.

The butcher shops also helpfully posted the recipe for Castradina in their shop windows

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This feast day dates back to 1630 where Venice once again faced the plague, the Doge at the time pledged to build a church to the Madonna (Basilicia di Santa Maria della Salute) to rid Venice of the plague. Every November 21st people cross a temporary bridge across the Grand Canal to reach the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and give thanks and ask Mary to keep them in good health. One other part of this celebration is making Castradina.

Castradina is also a nod of thanks to the Dalmatian people who supplied Venetians with food while they were in isolation due to the plague. It was this salted and smoked mutton that sustained the people at that time.

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I must admit during my previous visit to the market I wasn't that impressed - I think it was more to do with arriving much later in the day so the best of the produce had already been sold. This morning has renewed my faith - the quality, quantity and range is some of the best I've seen. It makes me wish I had a kitchen!

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Live eels!

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For more photos from the market visit the Flickr set - Rialto Market


After looking at all this great food we were feeling a little peekish so we stopped at a little hole in the wall where we ate 2 years ago.

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It's called Al Marca, right near the market and it's a great place to have excellent wine by the glass or coffee and nibble on one of their numerous mini panini.

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On the left, my choice, the Baccalà Mantecato and on the right, Paalo's choice of Ossocollo (think copacollo).

Sustained, we continue our exploration and come upon another church

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the Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto. This is said to be the oldest church in Venice, first consecrated in the 5th century, it survived fires that swept through Venice in the 1514. Its main feature is the gothic clock. Pay also particular attention to the 10 rules of behaviour inside churches as way too many tourists seem to regard the inside of a church as a backdrop to a photo of themselves. This is certainly not the church to enter if you cannot respect its sanctity.

We also finally locate the church that belongs to this Campanile

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No wonder we never could find it 2 years ago, it really is hidden behind the shops

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That arched entrance you see is actually the entrance of the church, Chiesa di San Giovanni Elemosinario.

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Photos aren't allowed inside this church either. The church was founded in 1051 but destroyed in the fire of 1514. It was then rebuilt with the intention that it actually be incorporated into the market area which explains why it is so difficult to find.

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This has to be one or is that two, of the more unusual things I've seen hanging off the clothes lines - two fur coats!

This next church is the Chiesa di San Cassiano

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founded in the 10th century it was remodelled in the 17th.

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Next up and right on the Grand Canal is the Chiesa di San Stae (Sant'Eustachio)

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not longer a church, it is open this time but hosting one of the exhibits from the Biennial so there's no point in going inside

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The original church dates from the 11th century but was demolished in 1678. The baroque façade dates from 1709 and was designed by Domenico Rossi and is suitably opulent for this prime canal position. Using money left by the Doge Mocenigo II, the best sculptors of the time were used to decorate the façade.

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The Campanile dates from the 18th century.

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Grand Canal buildings

On the move again we find ourselves in this lovely square, Campo di San Giacomo Dell'Orio

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where we find the Chiesa di San Giacomo dell'Orio

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The original church dates from the 9th Century, with additions and modifications in the 13th 15th and 16th centuries and other changes over time gives it a patchwork look to its exterior.


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The Campanile was part of the 1225 additions.

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As this one of the Chorus Pass churches, photography isn't allowed inside. One of the more interesting features inside is a green marble column that was retrieved from Constantinople during the Fourth crusade.

This next church was spotted not far from here - Chiesa di San Simone Grande

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This dates from the 10th century with 18th century modifications - most of which the result of having a plague victim from the 1630's buried under the floor!

Finally we're back on the Grand Canal and before us is one of the first churches you can see when you leave the station

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This church has a few names, Chiesa degli Scalzi, Chiesa della Santa Maria in Nazareth or as the locals simply call it Scalzi. It was founded by the barefoot Carmelites (known as Scalzi) in 1705. The last doge of Venice is buried here.

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Right nearby is the Scalzi Bridge

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The Carmelite convent no longer exists, part of the land sold off to make way for the train station, Venezia Santa Lucia

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Walking along here you get the chance to admire some of the water taxis

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The next church, the Chiesa di San Nicolò dei Mendicoli seems to be fighting for space as they neighbouring buildings encroach upon it

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You might be able to see how the building on the left has actually taken a chunk out of the stairs

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This church was founded in the late 7th century and has been remodelled through the ages.

Our last church is the Chiesa di San Pantaleone Martire also known as San Pantalon

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Founded in the 9th it was rebuilt in the 14th century. In a 17th century modification the orientation of the church was moved 90 degrees leaving this unfinished façade to face the Campo San Pantalon.

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Its campanile is one of the more interestingly shaped ones.

By this time we were feeling a bit peckish so we stopped for lunch and our choice proved that even if you apply those well-worn rules of choosing a place with locals and one who's menu is written in Italian, you can still have a pretty poor meal. In fact the third rule should be that the first two rules aren't infaliable.

The place we ate is called Trattoria da Silvo and I'm don't think Silvo is there anymore.

For our first course we both selected the oven baked scallops

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which have to be some of the worse scallops we've eaten. Overcooked to death and buried under an overdose of breadcrumbs, these were barely edible.

Things didn't improve with our next course

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Paalo had this slop of a dish that was supposed to be Linguine with Salmon - I'll let the picture speak for itself.

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I had the Steak which had the most weird taste - it was almost as if it had been boiled and then thrown on a grill to brown

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This side which is listed as Oven roasted potatoes with rosemary were microwaved - the ping of the oven and it's superheated state telling me of its true origin.

This easily ranks as our worse meal in Italy.

Time to continue our journey through Venice and onto another church - this time it's the Chiesa di San Rocco

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Dating from the 15th Century, it was completely altered in the 18th Century and very few traces of the original structure remain.

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The façade is decorated by sculptures by Marchiori.

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The next church is the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

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Don't let its rather plain façade fool you, the interior is a gem of Renaissance art and funerary monuments. There's also a very rare for Venice, complete monumental choirstalls.

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There's one thing you'll really notice is the lean in its Campanile - I think it is at an 8° tilt.

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Founded by the Franciscans (the Frari) in 1250 it was enlarged in the 14th Century. The campanile dates from 1396.


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This is also a Chorus Church so no photos are allowed inside - don't try to take sneaky photos just enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.


By this stage we were feeling a bit tired so we decided to head back to the hotel taking the more scenic route via the Vaporetto - its a good excuse to head down the Grand Canal

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Here's the temporary bridge for the Festa

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and here is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, getting ready for tonight - it is a shame that the dome is hidden by scaffolding.

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the zoom proves handy to get the top of the Campanile in San Marco

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the bridge of sighs with perpetual crowds

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the really leaning campanile of San Giorgio

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almost home - via garibaldi

Tonight we've decided to take part in the procession to Salute so head off to wait at the Piazza San Marco. The procession starts from the Basilica di San Marco.

The low light gives me an opportunity to show why using flash is useless

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this is hand held - no flash

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and this is hand held with flash

Now if you want to take good photos at night use a tripod and ditch the flash.

As its a bit cold and we have a bit of time on our hands we indulge ourselves and visit Caffe Florian right on the Piazza San Marco. I'll be the first to say that it isn't cheap but neither is it ridiculous. Coffee will set you back around €7 a cup, hot chocolate about €10 but you are paying for the position.

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Paalo decides to have a glass of red (around €8) and I have the CaffeFlorian cocktail made from their own Liquore al Caffè (Coffee Liqueur), it's absolutely delightful. Our drinks are served with savoury puff pastry fingers for Paalo and the tradition biscuit of Venice, Baicoli.

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Just after 8pm the doors of the Basilica open and the procession begins (the doors closed at 7pm for rosary), a series of amplified speakers spread evenly through the emerging crowd ensuring we can all hear the service

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It's quite a moving experience to be in the midst of all these people - the pilgrimage marked with singing and prayers of thanks. There were certainly a lot of odd looks as this huge group of people made our way through the streets - we were near the front of the crowd and it probably took a good half hour to reach our destination

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It was a further half hour until everyone arrived, the number of people taking part was amazing.

The candles that had been carried were then placed on the steps of the Basilica to form a colourful display

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We decided not to stay for the next service and left when they closed the doors.

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Taken from the votive bridge a view of the Basilica

As it was late we decided to head back to our street for a pizza. Once again, though good it wasn't anywhere as good as it was 2 years ago.

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Paalo has the Bufala Pizza

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and I have the Cipolla Pizza.

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