All posts by mangiamillie

New York City Blog Oct. 28 – Nov. 3

I’m basking in the Venetian afterglow. Last Monday, Oct. 28, we climbed into a water taxi at 3 a.m. and headed across the lagoon and into the open sea to the Marco Polo Airport to take a flight to Amsterdam at 6:30. Shades of Key Largo. The fog shrouded us in our noisy motor boat, giving the impression that it was snowing. At the airport, we found the entrances locked but got in by taking an external elevator to somewhere in the building. Marco Polo Airport is snazzy and small. Starting at 5 a.m. you can buy delicious coffee in its many variations. Delta had instructed us that as of late October, Venice was no longer a one-stop destination.That’s why we were shunted to KLM for a stop over in Amsterdam. As we approached Schiphol, the pilot announced (groan) turbulence was to be expected because of the storm battering the U. K. We rocked and rolled our way to Amsterdam, then caught a Delta flight to NYC.

The Venetians were preparing for their marathon on Sunday, Oct. 27. It was great fun walking across the pontoon bridge that spanned the Grand Canal from the Salute to San Marco. I had done it one other time when I was in Venice for the July festival of the Redentore which commemorated the end of a 16th century plague. That temporary bridge connects Palladio’s Redentore to San Marco.

2013 Venetian pontoon bridge being constructed. In this photo, it's to the middle of the Grand Canal
2013 Venetian pontoon bridge being constructed. In this photo, it’s to the middle of the Grand Canal


Walking on the temporary bridge
Walking on the temporary bridge


The pontoon bridge spans the Grand Canal for the Venetian Marathon
The pontoon bridge spans the Grand Canal for the Venetian Marathon


I’ve been living twin experiences: Venice’s marathon and now New York’s. Last week in Venice we set our clocks back and we’re doing it again in NYC.  I’m including pictures of Venetian preparations for their marathon.

Out of NYC Blog: Oct. 20 – Oct. 26

We are in our second Venetian week, concentrating on walking from the Dorsoduro to the Fondamenta Nuova in ten minutes, exploring the Naval Museum of the Serenissima (Venice to you). Imagine, a room dedicated to gondolas, including Peggy Guggenhheim’s.There’s a copy of the last Bucintoro, the Doge’s ship, from which the Doge threw a ring into the lagoon symbolizing the marriage of Venice to the sea.

Only in Venice: During the week the Venice Marathon Bridge was erected across the Grand Canal from the tip of the Dorsoduro to San Marco. The general public can walk across it the day before the marathon. On Sunday, the Marathon is run. A temporary walkway is constructed for religious festivals such as the Redentore to celebrate the end of the plague in the fifteenth century as well as for athletic events. Next week I’ll include photos.

Out of NYC Blog Oct. 14 – Oct. 20

Wecome to Venice! We arrived on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at Marco Polo Airport and took the Alilaguna  (wings of the lagoon) into the city to the sestiere(one of the six Venetian sections)  of Dorsoduro. We dragged our luggage over the inevitable, and at any other time charming, bridges to our hotel. Since then we’ve walked from the Zattere on the far side of the Dorsoduro across the Accademia bridge to the Fondamente Nove, stopping in at churches and shops along the way. San Giovanni and Paolo has a wonderful, vast interior filled with crypts, chapels, equestrian statues, reliques and a chair reserved for the doge. On its exterior walls are reliefs of dignified lions, the symbol of Venice. The weather has been sunny and cool but there’s evidence of aqua alta. The platforms that are placed on top of the watery walkways are stacked around the city. The food has been delicious – fresh and homemade. Desserts were never given the same care as the rest of the meal and I think it’s still true. Last night I had a concoction that tasted and was the same color as toothpaste.At my friend’s suggestion, we went to a wine shop that makes its own wine. We bought bottles of red still wine and one of sparkly prosecco, watched him fill the bottles and trotted them back to the hotel, to be returned when empty. More later.

New York City Blog Oct. 7 – Oct. 13

It’s been a busy week. On Monday, I attended a concert reading of Walden, The Musical. It’s about Thoreau and the Underground RR. The treatment of the theme is reverential.  A few days later I headed into outer space with Imax glasses, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.I guess they couldn’t hire a robot so they settled on Bullock.Buffed but girly, cited as a genius but unable to read the space ship’s dials or how to land it, she could have been a member of the 9/11 gang. I want to dislike Clooney but he does his regular guy routine to perfection. $22!

I was supposed to go to the National Museum of the American Indian. It’s downtown near Battery Park and housed in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, but it was not to be.My witty friend, J. D., explains it all:  Syllogism of the day: The Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Museum.The Smithsonian is run by the Federal Government. The Federal Government is shut down.Therefore, the Museum of the American Indian is ….

The Book of Mormon was a hoot. I’m still laughing over its inspired naughtiness. It’s at that dusty old fossil, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre. The theatre rocked with laughter. A young Chicagoan told me she was shocked, delighted, but shocked. Are we New Yorkers more blunt about political correctness and the taboo subjects of politics and race? Hope so.

New York City Blog Sept. 30 – Oct. 6

The Italian Cultural Institute is on Park Avenue between 68th and 69th Streets.  Passing by on Friday, I noticed that the Institute is promoting the Marche region. In one of its upstairs galleries Raphael’s The Little Saint Catherine of Alexandra stands on lonely display. Raphael was a native son of Urbino, one of the Marche’s better known cities. That’s the tourist tie in, as if we needed any excuse to gaze at a superb painting of an angelic figure. It brought home to me why I’ll always be tied to Catholicism. The art and architecture have a hypnotic spell. Recently, a Jewish friend having spent several weeks in northern Italy, jokingly said that he’d spent so much time in Italian churches that he felt half Catholic.
Since I have one foot out the Catholic door and am always on the look out for a new religion, I asked an acquaintance why he had remained a Catholic and he said it was because he liked lost causes.
A Protestant friend told me that her son had married a Catholic and agreed to raise their children as Catholics. Protestant grandmother, her Protestant son and his Catholic wife attended their seven year old son’s first holy communion. The priest announced that only  baptized Catholics could receive communion. In one stroke, he alienated the Protestant contingent and embarrassed the Catholic mother. Well done, spokesman of a dwindling church. The Protestants did something I would never have done, they took communion anyway.  I guess that’s what it means to protest. Recently, Pope Francis criticized the Catholic Church for putting dogma before love. The priest didn’t get the message.
Catholicism is polytheistic.All those saints are minor deities. My mother, a woman without hope, prayed to St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes. In Padua, hometown of St. Anthony,  there’s a church dedicated to him. At one of the chapels people post requests and leave offerings. The last time I was there someone had left her wedding dress.
Sant’Eustachio is a Roman church that honors a discredited saint. According to legend and to Wikipedia, prior to his conversion to Christianity, Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of a crucifix lodged between the stag’s antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace. Like Job, Eustace suffered.
Part of Catholicism’s lure is the fairy tale + damnation quality. Anyone who loves opera, I say, is crypto-Catholic.
Church of Sant'Eustachio, Rome
Church of Sant’Eustachio, Rome

If you squint, you can see the stag with the cross between his antlers perched at the top of the church’s pediment.

New York City Blog Sept. 23 – Sept. 29

Word of the week: Esophagogastroduodenoscopy, 26 letters that spell a word that means examination of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum. It was learned while I was undergoing a procedure that is far more pleasant than the prep. I’ve spared you photographs.

Studio 5 at City Center: Damian Woetzel hosts a series that examines various aspects of dance. The series is held in a space that reminds me of a high school auditorium. It holds about 200 people. On Sept. 24 he introduced Analia Centurion and Gabriel Misse. Both are extraordinary tango dancers. They demonstrated how the tango has changed over the years. According to Mr. Misse, the 1950s were the golden age of the tango. You can’t see Ms. Centurion’s very high heels.

Gabriel Misse watches Damian Woetzel and Analia Centurion dancing
Gabriel Misse watches Damian Woetzel and Analia Centurion dancing

Damian Woetzel, Gabriel Misse, Analia Centurion
Damian Woetzel, Gabriel Misse, Analia Centurion



Off to the Met to see the Balthus show.He’s so much an artist of his time, so European, so bourgeois – even his landscapes seem interior. The artist’s focus on naked young girls gave one of my friends the creeps.

Balthus's The Cat of La Mediterranee
Balthus’s The Cat of La Mediterranee

And, finally, a bouquet from Lila Acheson Wallace’s bequest to the Metropolitan to contribute fresh flower arrangements.

Lila Acheson Wallace floral bequest to the Met
Lila Acheson Wallace floral bequest to the Met