PIAZZA SAN MARCO AND ST MARK’S BASILICA

New Year’s eve heralded a bright sunny day after a few days of rainy cold weather. This is the view across the lagoon of St Mark’s square.

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Saint Mark’s square, the largest square in Venice, is said to have initially been built between 800-1100 though numerous renovations were undertaken until the 19th century. Below is the western side of St Mark’s Basilica and the landmark Campanile Bell Tower which stands almost 99 metres tall. At the top of it is a statue of archangel Gabriel.

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Below is a closer view of St Mark’s Basilica which forms part of the square. On new year’s eve it  would gradually fill up with revellers waiting to see the new year in. Detail of the gable shows Venice’s patron apostle St. Mark with angels. Underneath is a winged lion, the symbol of the saint and of Venice.

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The Clock Tower below, is part of an early Renaissance building. Both the tower and the clock date from the last decade of the 15th century, though the mechanism of the clock has subsequently been much altered. It was placed where the clock would be visible from the waters of the lagoon and give notice to everyone of the wealth and glory of Venice.

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Below is the Procuratie Vecchie built by Bartolomeo Bon in about 1520 – Another impressive building which lines the square.

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Below is the the Piazzetta di San Marco which is (strictly speaking) not part of the Piazza but an adjoining open space connecting the south side of the Piazza to the waterway of the lagoon.

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The Piazza is surrounded by shops, restaurants and provides ample space for shows. It provided the perfect space to just hang out, take selfies or as this young lady did below – pose for her wedding pictures. Not sure where the groom was 🙂

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I had been warned that eating or even drinking water at the piazzo was an expensive affair. Nevertheless, just doing some people-watching was ample entertainment. Window shopping was also an inexpensive way to spend some time in the earlier hours of New year’s eve. Below are some beautiful exhibits of the famous Murano glass products. We had taken a boat trip on the previous day to Murano island where some of the Murano glassware is manufactured by age old craftsmen.

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We did eventually have a meal in this beautiful nook of a restaurant close to the Piazza. Apart from a superb meal, indoor heating against the growing outdoor chill, we enjoyed the vantage point of more people watching.

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While we had initially planned to see the new year in within the square, we were advised by locals that the best place to be where we’d enjoy full sight of the magnificent fireworks display, was very close to where we were staying, at the edge of the lagoon. This was after saying goodbye to the very festive look and feel of the square.

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In my next post, join me on a trip to the commercial/shopping  and tourist hub of Rialto and the spectacular views from the Grand Canal in Venice.

 

My sincere apologies for my absence on the blog. Life has been very busy. So yes, Easter is almost upon us and I’m still catching up on a trip that my family and I did over Christmas and New year’s Eve. If you’d like to catch up on earlier posts, do check out my posts on Malta. You might also want to look at a previous post I did on Venice when I was still dreaming about travelling there.  https://chevvy8.com/2017/09/03/venice-the-floating-city/

In the Neighbourhood

After Christmas we left Malta with plans to see the new year in at the lagoon in Venice. We had also decided to live amongst the locals to get a real feel for the place.

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A totally new experience for me was having to travel everywhere by boat. Even the boat- stop moves and I was ever so glad to have a friendly hand reach out to help me skip over the plank when I found the motion between the boat stop and the boat a bit precarious. Of course this is no big deal for the locals who sit dressed up to the nines and unflustered  on each boat ride.

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Living in the neighbourhood means walking through a maze of cobbled streets and not seeing too much of your neighbour since all windows were shuttered to keep the Winter chill out. Household rubbish is hung out through your window each morning before 8a.m. and magically removed  before you leave the warmth of indoor central heating. Temperatures outside varied between -1 degrees – to 7 degrees centigrade in late December. You’ll appreciate that we had left our Summer behind with soaring temperatures of 30+ degrees centigrade.20171230_100216

The first thing we needed to do upon arrival was stock our cupboards up with food. Above is the main street just around the corner from where we lived, where you can stock up on freshly caught fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, and visit the butcher and little supermarket.

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Coming from a shopping mall culture back home, I think the layout of of fruit and vegetables is quite a work of art and makes shopping for your daily meal that more fun.Of course the irony was not lost on me that the biggest,sweetest grapes we bought here were from my own country – South Africa.

An added delight was taking these scenic walks to the shops each day.

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Our first first few days were rainy days but when you’re surrounded by water who cares? I loved walking in the rain.

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Even the local park was deserted most of the time,yet still I loved it. Having been warned that Venice attracts over 18 million tourists in the Summer, I was glad to enjoy the feeling of having the place to ourselves.

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The Piazzo San Marco or St Mark’s Square which was a 2 km walk away, stood aloof in the rain on those first few days.

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But of course when the sun did come out, it was laundry day and a very novel experience for me was to see the women chatter away with their neighbours while using pulleys to string up their laundry across the paved streets.

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The sunshine meant strolling past stalls along the lagoon  and buying a few souvenirs like paper maché or ceramic masks and paintings of the beautiful scenes of Venice.

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And suddenly the Piazza San Marco looked more inviting.

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Join me next week for our visit to St Mark’s Square. Thank you for stopping by.

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If you call

One last time

Will I melt like molten wax

Feeling the heat, your lips on mine

 

 

If I stay

One more night

Will I cascade volcanic eruptions

When you call out, in mounting bliss

 

 

If we walk

Down a different path

Will we lose ourselves, yet again

Without regret or blushing shame

 

I dare not look

Into your smouldering eyes

For your answer is plain to see

 

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A stone on my back,

Heaves from a sinking ship,

A moving cloudburst,

 

Undulating tides,

Have all had their way with me.

Vanquished – I lie

 

Waiting for the dawn

Of a sun-breezy day,

Silver-lined oaths

 

To free my bondage

And cover my nakedness,

Shield my dignity.

 

Time to lift the curse

To clear the smog in the air

That blinded us all.

 

Time has come for us

To rinse away the rancour

Of a captured state!

 

Tribute to Hugh Masekela – Rest in Peace Bra Hugh! 

            ( 4th April 1939 – 23 January 2018)

One of our great ICONS of Jazz, Hugh Masekela, passed away this week at the age of 78. Apart from being twice a  Grammy award award winner and playing with great musicians all over the world, he has been one of those artists who has not only given us pleasure through his music but has also been a disciple and commentator of what is wrong with our world. He has indeed been one of our liberators.

Many tributes have poured in over radio and television this week and those who know Hugh Masekela’s music will know “Grazin the grass”.  Stimela (meaning train) has been one of the songs that has played on  many radio stations this week. It is very dramatically presented, simulating the sound of a train as it recounts  the lives of migrant workers coming to South Africa on whose back the wealth of our Gold, Diamonds and Coal platinum and other minerals have been mined.  The jovial character of Hugh has also been much spoken of this week so while this song deals with serious issues, I’ve offered various versions for you to enjoy the art of the musician. Have a great week ahead!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Marsaxlokk : A Seaside village

As small as the island of Malta is, there is a lot to see and experience and one week is not enough to do it. If you want a slice of nightlife, I’m told that St Julian’s bay is the place to be. There are also lots of of pretty places for snorkelling and other water sports in the Summertime. I was sorry that we weren’t able to do the Three Harbour boat tour we had booked, due to very windy seas, but I’m happy with what we did experience in our 7 day stay.

An impromptu visit to the seaside village of Marsaxlokk was one of those. With a few hours to spare we took a taxify to the picturesque village on Christmas day before lunch  while the village was still waking up.

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On an ordinary day, expect to find a hive of activity as fishermen mend their boats and set out to sea to catch the fresh fish that is served at the surrounding restaurants and as part of the flea market stalls which attract visitors here on Sundays.

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Most buildings are not taller than two stories and on a morning such as this, it was heaven to watch the sun glisten on the gentle bobbing water, sit on a bench, watching the seagulls and- just be.

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I remain in awe of these old buildings and how households seem to stamp their identity through their brightly coloured doors. I have respect for these old buildings. In my young country, we are more inclined to knock down old buildings and with it some of the history and heritage they hold. Then again, wars and painful histories have not always good to us to hang on to reminders.

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I love these two pictures because they speak of promise and optimism  even when the world has so much to distract you with its problems

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Christmas was a serious affair in Malta. Christmas decorations abounded  in the capital city streets, on window decorations and Christmas nativity scenes. We had attended a Christmas Buffet dinner on Christmas Eve and following the instructions to dress smart casual, we were surprised to see Maltese turn up in the Christmas finest – men in suits, women in strappy evening wear and fur coats, children tantalised by the range of lovely things to eat.

Back at our hotel Christmas day was a gorgeously warm day – far from a White Christmas but still cool enough for us to combine our gluwein with a magical sunset.

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This song caught my attention this week. A beautiful song which  takes me to a special place. I’ve chosen two great versions of the song. Maysa jazzes up the original version by Luther Vandross. I would love to hear which version you’d pick. Have a gorgeous day/night and enjoy your week ahead.

And this is what it sounds like in a saxophone performance

The horse and carriage is one way to move through  the beautiful former capital of Malta which has been reduced considerably from its former size and is surrounded by the suburb of Rabat.

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We waited outside the gates of this walled city for our private tour guide to walk and talk us through this very picturesque city which is said to be over 4000 years old. According to tradition it was here that in 60 A.D. the Apostle St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the Islands. It is now home to lines of noble and wealthy people with a total population of 300 people. Apart from cars belonging to residents, no cars are allowed into Mdina.IMG_0582

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Below is the entrance to Vilhena Palace. I’m always interested to hear the stories of what informed the building of palaces and castles. There always seems to be an element of vanity, envy and greed which in modern times would translate to competing with the Jones’s. On the other hand perhaps we have to also express gratitude for envy and pride that led to the creativity behind some of the beautiful architectural heritage we now appreciate. The palace is now home to the administration of the city with the Mayor living there.

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Over the period of its existence, Mdina has been occupied by the Phoenicians, Carthagnians and Romans and suffered significant destruction during the 17th century earthquake. The architecture here combines medieval, baroque, Venetian and English influences. IMG_0610

As a city which was frequently under seige, it is built defensively with narrow, winding roads that were built to deceive pirates and allow for hiding places or escape for the inhabitants of Mdina.IMG_0666

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The courtyard below was part of a set for the filming of one of the Game of Thrones episodes.IMG_0624

The hotel below was once home to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip for three years and has also hosted other famous people, including Brad Pitt.IMG_0632

St Paul’s Cathedral below is part of a square which  in days gone by, would have served as a venue for town gatherings. IMG_0601

Once again, I am fascinated by the intricate architecture and how beautiful the limestone buildings appear with interesting accents of colour. IMG_0599

Note how striking the Bougainvillea shows up against these walls.IMG_0664

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An orange tree in one of the courtyards provides a lovely touch of vegetation in a very stony landscape.IMG_0630

Apart from the beautiful architecture, I was once again enamoured by the beautiful colourful doors and window boxes.

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An important feature of this Winter holiday was drinking lots of hot chocolate. We stopped at this restaurant to indulge in decadent hot chocolate and the most divine slices of cake.

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Sitting on the upper deck of the restaurant, we had splendid views of Malta and the Mediterranean sea.

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Thank you for joining me this week and join me again for a visit to the picturesque little fishing village of Marsaxlokk.

Today I’d like to introduce my song of the week which may include eclectic genres of music that I enjoy. Mostly though, it is likely to pick out songs which have been covered by various musicians and you can decide which one you like best.

I’ve recently returned from a wonderful Winter holiday in Malta and Venice with a quick introduction of my children to Paris. When our Taxify driver picked us up to take us to Charles de Gaulle Airport, this song by Nadia, was playing on the Jazz radio station our driver was listening to. Though I know the song, I hadn’t heard this version before. Our driver was so exuberant about me expressing my liking for this song that he could hardly contain himself. He lavished us with sweets, took us on a special detour to see the Christmas lights at the Champs Elycees and this experience was just the cherry on the cake to the romance of Paris. Here is Bèsame Mucho – Kiss me alot. This became our family theme song for the remainder of our holiday. I’d love to hear which one was your favorite version. Have a fantastic week ahead!