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Third time's the charm

First 2002, second 2004, and now, just over 10 years later, Venice was probably the most delicious I have ever seen it, all Spring sunlight and sparkling water - and, I suspect, a paintjob here and there. The city still has its dilapidation of course but there wasn't a touch of gloom or mystery to it; it seems more alive, full of ordinary happiness as well as extraordinary beauty.

We spent our first night celebrating larians birthday in a particularly fine restaurant, a novelty in our experience of Venice. That first night we stayed in a budget hotel, only to join the family when they arrived at Ca' Lezze the next day. The Palazzo was impressive on the outside and very comfortable within, but I didn't quite like it. It didn't have a strong sense of being haunted,whatever that means, but still my dislike was of that ilk without being properly defined. There was no shimmering sense of 'Don't tread on me,' as you get in some places, rather a strange sort of awkwardness, there is no other way I can describe it. On Sunday I dreamed I saw a nuclear explosion. In the dream I remembered once reading or being told that anyone close enough to see a nuclear explosion would be killed by it, and that I felt fine. 'Maybe we are dead already,' went my dream reasoning, 'Maybe I will be dead before this happens. Or maybe it was just rubbish... we are OK after all.'
'That is because the poison has not come,' whispered a voice.
Oh just fuck off, Ca'Lezze! Went my head, and I woke up.

I like to think the dream was fueled by illness; we were mostly lurgified and I was lucky to get over the worst of mine in the first couple of days. Excursions were made to the St Marks, the Doge's Palace etc, but several of my expeditions were by myself to see things no-one else cared about; the Ca d'Oro with its gorgeous courtyard, the Accademia and the Rousseau exhibition.

The Ca d'Oro gallery seemed to specialise in depictions of terrible parties:

I was impressed by the most honestly knackered madonna I have ever seen:

And disturbed by a saintly observer I would never allow near my child:

The Accademia was magnificent, though one could not help notice the movement of captivation; Yes, observe the iconography but look at the city with its familiar chimney pots and crowds,streets and bridges and the people, always the people... I wonder if the artists became aware of how their focus was shifting from the event to the environment, from the moment to the metropolis. The city was a pinnacle of human success; it was beginning to suffocate, so I ran to the Rousseau exhibition in the doge's apartments, where the man's genius was explained in the context of Dali, Klee, Kandinsky, Cezanne, Picasso and Kahlo... I have always loved the savage gardens of Rousseau's imagination, but it didn't escape me that the 20th century vision of a perfect jungle was already a more fantastical creation than the 16th century vision of a perfect city. His bi-planes were less successful than his rugby players, whom I consider frankly splendid.

Anyway, suffice it to say my head was well fed. But the most perfect moments were to be found in little piazzas with sunlight and budding trees all around and the canal just beyond. The weather stayed faithfully glorious until we left, rain starting as our cases were piled into the water taxi. Bruno the curator(?) shook my hand as we were leaving. 'Bruno,' I asked, 'Is the Ca' Lezze haunted?'
'The Ca'Lezze?' He nodded at me as the driver helped me into the boat. 'Oh yes.'

*NB: Couldn't take photos in the exhibition, this is taken of an appropriate fridge magnet!



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