Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo | Venice

Palazzo MocenigoPalazzo Mocenigo

Back in January, when I went to Venice, one of the things that I was looking forward the most was to visit lots and lots of palazzi. Unfortunately, I only managed to fit two: this one and the Palazzo Fortuny. I was travelling on a budget and it turns out entrance fees to Venetians palaces are quite pricey. Venice on a budget is not a problem and indeed very enjoyable but I would love to go back under different circumstances and live the palazzo life for a different take on the city.

Anyways enough wishful thinking, let’s go back to the Palazzo Mocenigo. Rebuilt in the 17th century, this impressive gothic   palace was the home of the Mocenigo’s, one of the most important family in Venice. It is now the Museum of Textiles, Fabrics & Perfume. Needless to say, this was high on my list.

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As you access the piano nobile, you first walk through period rooms. Living rooms, dining rooms, the lavish furniture is marble-topped and the walls are covered with gold-framed paintings celebrating the Mocenigo family’s glories.

Filling those rooms, faceless mannequins are arranged in eerie little scenes. They wear ancient garments and accessories, the fabrics are beautifully patterned, the lace and embroidery are testaments to true craftsmanship. They exhibit the unworldly elegance Venetians are so famous for. In the library, you’ll find the books covering the history of these costumes and fabrics, of the fashion of 18th century Venice.

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Palazzo Mocenigo
Then starts the itinerary through the Venetian history of perfume, highlighting the key role the city played in the origins of this art. You’ll see the reconstruction of a 16th century perfumer’s lab, where weirdly shaped bottles pile up on the shelves and the raw materials are scattered on a table. There, you get closely acquainted with the processes of perfume-making. In the glass cabinet covering the walls, stand the most beautiful collection of vintage bottle you’ll ever see.

My favourite room was the ‘olfactory station’ where the ingredients of the different fragrance families fill jars and phials. Woody, floral, oriental and fresh, you’re free to sniff  those top, middle and base notes to your heart’s content.

Tip: Make sure you go to the Palazzo Mocenigo in Santa Croce as opposed to the other palazzi of the same name in San Marco. Okay, maybe not a tip as such but if I can help one person not to feel like a total fool like I did that Tuesday morning…

Palazzo Mocenigo

Practical Information

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo – website
Santa Croce, 1992
30124 Venezia

Opening Hours
10am – 4pm (Nov-March)
10am – 5pm (Apr-Oct)
Closed on Mondays, December 25, January 1 & May 1

Admission
General €8 / Reduced €5.50

Vaporetto
San Stae stop (Line 1)

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Rialto Market | Venice

Rialto Market

I visited the Rialto Market January this year in the early hours of the afternoon. So these pictures have a definite end-of-market vibe. Which suited me perfectly as it meant I could take pictures without disturbing anyone.
You see, I was a bit nervous as I had been shouted at for taking pictures of food a few days before. Venice is magical and all that, but the truth is, as a shutter-happy tourist, it can be a bit daunting. I made more than one Venetian roll their eyes at me while capturing a moment; a moment I ended up not wanting to keep anymore for feeling like an absolute dork.
I don’t know if it was because the market was about to close down and the sellers were relaxed and happy to go home soon but they made me feel welcome, greeting me with gleeful Buongiorno’s. So my camera and I were once again happy together, taking portraits of heart-breakingly beautiful artichokes and those weird vegetables that look like Rastafari martians called ‘Treviso Tardivo‘ (I had some on a pizza on my last day, they taste like mild chicory).

Rialto Market
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I’ve wanted to see the market ever since I stumbled upon Skye McAlpine’s instagram (she also has a dreamy food blog). She seems to always bring the most beautiful produce and flowers from the market. I couldn’t see any flower stalls (is there a specific day for the flower market, does anyone know?) but her instagram was certainly telling the truth, everything was looking well delicious and fresh. I only wished I had rented an Airbnb so I could bring some home and slice, sniff, taste and cook to my heart content… Do I sound like a vegetable pervert?

Rialto Market
Practical Information

Rialto Market
Campo de la Pesceria
San Polo, 30125 Venice

Opening Times
8am-1pm; it can be a bit earlier or later (Mon-Sat; Fish Market Tue-Sat)

Vaporetto
Rialto Mercato (line 1)

Burano Island | Venice

Burano Island
Burano Island
I’d like to apologise in advance for the picture heavy post but Burano Island was probably the most photogenic place I’ve been to this year, a camera lover’s technicolor dream. Stepping on the island felt like accessing the bonus level of a video game. I half expected having to run after jumping stars.
The island is a 45 minute vaporetto ride from main Venice but you might have guessed it by now, it’s completely and utterly worth it. If your stay is a short one, I’d say pick Burano Island over Murano or the other day trip options.
Where Murano excels in glass-blowing, Burano’s craft is dedicated to lace. But the main attraction is obviously the colourful buildings that surround the winding canals. I can’t imagine anyone being grumpy walking down Burano’s lanes.

It is said that the origin of the colours of Burano come from local fishermen painting their houses a striking shade so they could spot their abode from out at sea. And even if today the town looks like a joyful chaos, there’s actually a colour system. Home owners do need an authorization from the government if they want to repaint their facade and they will be given a choice of colours permitted for their area.
Burano IslandBurano Island
Burano IslandBurano Island
Burano IslandBurano Island
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Did you enjoy this post? You might like the previous ones I wrote on Venice: Murano Island | Libreria Acqua Alta | La Divina Marchesa Exhibition

Burano Island
Practical Information

Vaporetto: Burano (Line 9, 12, N)

Murano Island | Venice

Murano Island
This is not going to be a long post because to be truthful, I don’t have much to say about Murano. It is a quaint little island, about a 15 minute vaporetto ride from the north of Venice.
If you’re staying in La Serenissima for a couple of days, I’d say skip it altogether and favour its more colourful sister, Burano… unless, you’re into glass-blowing. That’s Murano’s “thing”. Most of the shops, if not all, feature glass objects of all shapes and colours. You can also witness glass-making in action.
I wasn’t so lucky as in January, the island was a proper ghost town. I kinda felt like I wasn’t meant to be there, catching a glimpse of someone quickly closing a blind, a curtain twitch or a shadow escaping to a side street. Bit odd alright.
To top it all up, I got lost. I got lost on a tiny island. It is obviously a testament on how poor my sense of orientation is but part of me (my petty part obviously) blames the weird proportions of the map I was using. So instead of the hour or so it should have taken me to tour the island, I got stuck there the whole afternoon. Oh well, I’ll just add it to the file  of ‘my numerous travel fails’.

Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island
Murano Island

Murano Island

Practical Information

Vaporetto: Faro (3, 4.1, 4.2, 12, 13, N)

Libreria Acqua Alta | Venice

Libreria Acqua Alta
Libreria Acqua Alta
I remember finding out about this bookshop while watching a documentary on Venice during wintertime with my mum last year. I found it hard to believe that such a place existed in real life and was not a part of a film set. So when I went to Venice last January, I couldn’t wait to see it with my own eyes. It was actually one of the first thing I ticked off my ‘to-see-list’. It’s no easy feat to locate the Libreria Acqua Alta, like most places in Venice, really. I was walking on a shopping street, literally about to give up, when I stumbled upon a little square, or campiello as they call it there. At the back of it, an arched entrance, lit up from inside, seemed to invite me in. Could it be it, I thought, trying to match what I saw with my televised memory. ‘Welcome to the most beautiful bookshop in the World‘ says a sign… Surely, if one bookshop could legitimately claim this title, it had to be the one I saw in the documentary. So, in I went!
Libreria Acqua Alta
Libreria Acqua Alta
Libreria Acqua Alta
Once inside, there couldn’t be any confusion. I was indeed standing in the aptly-named Libreria Acqua Alta I had seen on my screen a few months earlier. Towers and towers of second-hand books standing in bathtubs, gondolas, crates and other little boats. All at the ready for the next flooding or Acqua Alta (literally meaning high water). As the bookshop stands just on the bank of the canal, it gets flooded during those extreme high tides that Venice experiences during Winter. If you go at the back of the shop, there’s a little corner with a couple of chairs facing an opening on the canal (the ‘fire escape’, see picture above), you can see there already the water dangerously licking the wall of the shop.

If you want to have an idea what the shop looks like during high tide, talk to the dapper owner who wears a tricorn. He’s super chatty and friendly and will happily show you pictures he took of his shop flooded. He will also make sure that you saw all the ‘best bits’ of the shop: the aforementioned fire escape, the courtyard with the staircase made of books (which you can actually climb!), a trippy 3D Venice picture and other bits and bobs…
Libreria Acqua AltaLibreria Acqua Alta

Also, this shop gets extra bookish points for all the cute cats roaming around. I feel like this place has been dreamed and imagined by every book-lover in the world. I wish I had bought a book so I can have a physical memory of this wonderful place but I was silly, too busy taking pictures and filming (multitasking is not my strong suit obviously). I did spot a selection of books in the English and French language so the shop is also catered to tourists. That is if you’re ready to rummage through boats and gondolas of books!

Libreria Acqua Alta

Practical Information

Libreria Acqua Alta
Campiello del Tintor
Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa, 5176
Castello, 30122

Opening Hours: 9am -8pm (every day)

Vaporetto: Ospedale

La Divina Marchesa Exhibition | Venice

La Divina Marchesa

I thought I would kick off my posts on Venice with the only exhibition I went to. Since, it’s temporary (it runs until March), it only makes sense that I should get this post out of the way first.
I think I found out about the event on Instagram when the above painting popped up on my feed, I felt that I had seen this portrait before and instantly wanted to know more about this fiery looking lady.
I’m probably not the only one who experienced this feeling of déjà-vu as she is one of the most portrayed women in art history. Luisa Casati was indeed a muse for many artists in the beginning of the 20th century. She also commissionned numerous portraits for herself as she wanted to be “a living work of art”. The more I read about her, the more excited I was to visit this exhibition dedicated to her extravagant life.

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La Divina Marchesa

In the dark Palazzo Fortuny, where the rooms are padded with silky brocade, objects and frocks belonging to Luisa Casati as well as portraits give insights into her life. From Man Ray’s picture of her where she defiantly stares at you to the snaps stolen by Cecil Beaton where she hides behind her hand. From being the richest woman in Italy to living her last days, destitute in London; you get the sense that the Marchesa lived the life to the fullest until it literally left her in rags.

From a rather conservative background, Luisa Casati reinvented herself after meeting the poet Gabriele d’Annunzio. She morphed into the look we know her for today: fiery red hair, heavily lined eyes and red lips. Even though she didn’t fit to the beauty standards of the day (she was deemed too tall and too thin),  she turned it around and became a femme fatale, the first ever female dandy. She had countless lovers (women and men) among the artists she hung out with but she kept a close relationship with d’Annunzio. On the first floor of the museum, in a wooden cabinet, there’s a little figurine modelled after her (pictured below). It is said that d’Annunzio had it made so he could look at her and feel Luisa Casati’s presence every time he was missing her.

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La Divina Marchesa

She was known for hosting the most lavish parties and for entertaining the most extraordinary whims. I had to chuckle while listening to the audio-guide (which I would recommend you opt for; they’re free) when I learned that she used to dye her dog blue to match her outfits. She was also famous for having pet leopards. Many people reported seeing her walking them on diamond studded leashes in Venice (she was the direct inspiration behind the iconic Cartier’s panther jewellery pieces). But she also liked to wear a less conventional, one could say, type of ‘necklace’ like… wiggling snakes!

With such intriguing stories and unique look, there’s no wonder that Luisa Casati still captivates our minds today. Recently, Alexander McQueen and Lagerfeld for Chanel created pieces inspired by her striking silhouette. You will be able to see some of them in this exhibition, the first solely dedicated to one of the most fascinating characters of the early 20th century.

La Divina Marchesa

Practical Information

The Divine Marchesa Exhibition (ends March 8th 2015)
Palazzo Fortuny – website
San Marco, 3780

Admission: General €12 / Reduced €10

Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm (closed on Tuesdays)

Vaporetto: Sant’Angelo (Line 1)

Venice Wishlist

venice by neumarc
neumarc’s instagram

If all goes according to plan, I’ll be on my way to Venice as you’re reading this. It will be my first time in Italy. At my grand old age, I feel it might sound a bit odd especially for someone who’d been living on the continent for so long. But Italy never really appealed to me, until a few years ago. And as for Venice, I used to see it as a naff Disneyland for cheesy couples.
I can’t really pinpoint when I started taking an interest in Italy but I do remember when my vision of Venice veered (take that alliteration, it’s a freebie).
It was about 5 years ago when I first watched the TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited (one of my favourite series and favourite books if you’re interested). Venice looked so serene and mythical, especially through the bewitched eyes of Charles Ryder. I hope that I will feel just as enthralled today. I will be sure to report but first here are the things I’m looking forward the most for this trip.

– Visiting lots and lots of palazzi; I’ve mentioned it many times before but ever since I watched Sofia Coppola’s Marie-Antoinette, I have rococo on the brain. I can’t quite explain the pleasure I feel, trying to get the right shade of gold when I edit pictures of gaudy interiors.

– Instagramming; speaking of taking pictures, it will be my first time travelling abroad since opening my account so I’m really keen to document this trip on Instagram. I’ve been super inspired by the account of neumarc, psychodreaming and sky mcalpine to name a few local grammers.

– Artichokes; they seem to be everywhere in Venice which excites me to no end. They’re really hard to track down here in Dublin (does anybody know why?) so I’m planning to eat them until I roll into the closest canal. Now, how does one say carciofi?

The Divine Marchesa Exhibition; this exhibition is dedicated to Luisa Casati, a muse to many artists in the beginning of the 20th century. Her portraits are extremely haunting and her lifestyle sounded so extravagant. I mean, pet leopards?!

– Getting lost; apparently it is the only way to experience Venice. Sounds good to me!