Venetian Magic – An art lovers discovery in Venice

Food, canals, gondolas, water, water, water and many footsloggers wandering the narrow passageways provides our guest blogger, Louis Gravelet the perfect landscape to search for another dimension.

With limited time and wishing for something different a decision was made to follow a recommendation and visit the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. It displays masterpieces of Cubism, Futerism, European abstraction, ,Surrealism and American Abstract Expressionism up to the 1980’s.


The collection contains some incredible artworks. The works of Dali, Ernst, Picasso, Klee, Modigliani, Chagall, Kandinsky, Jackson Pollak ,Miro and photographer Man Ray are represented amongst others in this most valuable and profoundly inspiring exhibition. Sculptures too are represented in the beautiful grounds of this prestigious Vila, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni , once home to Peggy Guggenheim for over 30 years. Pieces by Duchamp-Villon, Henry Moore , Marini and Giacometti add another dimension to this powerful statement of artistic excellence.

The museum is located between the Accademia and the church of Santa Maria della Salute. Accademia stop on canal transport.

Discovered a quaint ristorante on a corner of a laneway heading back to Accademia ferry stop. Al Vecio Forner is a quirky establishment run by an eccentric owner extremely helpful and proud of his culinary offerings which didn’t disappoint. The lasagne di pesce was special.


Now time to grab a gelato from a gelateria which boasted credentials rather than half melted varieties offered around major tourist venues with minimal creativity in flavors. Patience won out and Gelato di Natura – creazioni artigianali trading since 1982 was discovered and certainly lived up to their statement adorning the wall. Worth the adventure to find them. A quality serving is the reward.

And then I stumble across a poster announcing an exhibition from one of my inspirational and favourite photographers, Willy Ronis. By luck it had just begun. The next day the itinerary was now complete with a visit to the exhibition a must.

Canal photography, mandatory in Venice , took up much of the afternoon until dinner at Tratoria da Sara , Sistiere Dorsoduro, where I had to have a typical Venetian meal of Fegato all a Veneziana ( liver and onions with polenta) Just had to demolish a bowl of mussels in a most tasty tomato soup beforehand. I decided on a Chianti to accompany the Fegato as the wine list wasn’t very comprehensive. The setting, comfortable garden oasis on the Rialto walking route.

Now to the Willy Ronis photographic exhibition.  Held in a most impressive Neo Gothic palace, Casa dei Tre Oci.

The exhibition was over three floors containing some of his most recognisable images.Ronis is an inspiration to a multitude of photographs then, now and will be into the future. His photojournalism didn’t need words to tell the story, his camera and patience for being at the right place for that moment in time attests to that. He set the standard as the quintessential street photographer without compromise. In fact he withdrew his services after a short time with Life magazine as they would not accept his captions rather using in house journalists. He also set a standard when he objected to the cropping of an image which changed the nature of it’s statement. Editorial integrity was high on his standard of business ethics, a far cry from most photojournalism of this era.

As I moved through the exhibition, which amazingly was being experienced by small numbers enabling more time to reflect on the works and background words that accompanied them, by chance I looked out of the second floor window. It was if I was transported back in time as yachts from a bygone era floated on the waters with Piazza San Marco in the background. Time for my own photograph illustrated in this blog alongside some examples from the Willy Ronis exhibition.

These were some of the highlights of two days in Venice. Having visited the iconic points of interest in my backpacking days and repeating it with my girlfriend and then with our children I still find Venice a city of hidden delights which delivers surprise no matter when you visit.

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