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June 19, 2009

Mozart and Brodsky Walk into a Bar

Artist John Baldessari promises, "I will not make any more boring art."
Photo: Beata Loyfman-Santora

by Beata Loyfman-Santora

As you may recall, yours truly recently got hitched in Rome (hence the expanded last name). And after recuperating from the excitement at the gorgeous Casa Angelina on the Amalfi Coast, hubby and I took an overnight train to Venice, where we joined the hordes of art aficionados at the Venice Biennale. With 77 exhibitions going on at once, there's plenty to see. I especially liked Tobia Rava's optical illusions at Galleria d'Arte l'Occhio. As fellow blogger Ondine Cohane wrote, the city is in a frenzy of activity, so finding a quiet spot was tough. Luckily, I found two.

While I was wandering the labyrinthine streets behind the Teatro La Fenice, a gray plaque caught my eye. Turns out this was Casa Ceseletti, the residence of the 14-year-old Wolfgang Mozart in 1770. I stood inhaling deeply, hoping to ingest some of his musical genius. (I was unsuccessful.)

The Isola di San Michele is just a few minutes away from the northern part of the city, but thankfully has far fewer tourists--probably because most people are frightened by this island of the dead. Oddly, its cemetery houses quite a few notable Russians, including Joseph Brodsky, Stravinsky, art and ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev, and Ezra Pound (who wasn't technically Russian but was certainly of Slavic origins).

After just three days in what Brodsky called an "anarchy of water," the allure of this strange city took hold and I understood why so many artists flock here for inspiration. Venice positively overflows with it.

Further reading:
* Word of Mouth-er Ondine Cohane reports from the 53rd Venice Biennale
* New York artists ambush Venetian waters with barges of reconstituted detritus
* Boldface: Celebrity travels


So, was it sinking?

It really did feel like it was sinking. Walking along the canals, the water always at high tide. Many a good shoe were ruined that weekend. But it was worth it.
- Beata

I can't tell you how proud I am that you did something typically me and weird: a cemetery island. Must put that on my list of places to visit.

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