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Angels and winged lions: Venetian encounters

October 17, 2012

Dancing Beastie’s name is inspired by the gryphon rampant on the family crest. But a gryphon (or griffin) is nothing compared to the beasties I encountered last week. Lucky, lucky me, I have just returned from an indulgent week in Venice. And whenever you look up in that most celebrated island city, your eye alights upon angels, saints, dragons and the splendid, incomparable winged lion of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice. Here is a melancholy crocodile on a pillar; there an angel’s trumpet echoing a jet trail in the sky. Venice seems to the visitor to have an extra dimension compared to other places, an easy familiarity with the divine and the fantastical. No wonder so many of us are drawn under its spell.

As you may imagine, I took hundreds of photos. I was doing a course in book art and have so much I’d like to share. Meanwhile, at home, a kindly September has mellowed into a frosty autumn while Dancing Beastie has languished in the doldrums. It has been a blessed end to the summer, culminating in Venice and now a new puppy! So there is lots to tell, and I will be back to tell a little of it (and show you some puppy pictures, of course) just as soon as the boys’ half-terms allow me to catch my breath – and sort out my photos. See you soon.



27 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 11:26 pm

    Nice to see you back! Thanks for the lovely photos. The mind boggles.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 10:58 pm

      Thanks, Jessica!

  2. October 18, 2012 2:12 am

    Oh my. It is all so exciting!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 10:58 pm

      Tell me. I was just about hyperventilating with the deliciousness of it all. 🙂

  3. October 18, 2012 8:47 am

    I am off to Venice (for the first time) tomorrow – I shall make a point of looking up!

    • October 18, 2012 9:43 am

      Cornflower – you will only ever have one ‘first time in Venice’ – you will never forget it. Soak it all up – I envy you! (lots of envying this morning, as is my wont when Venice is on the menu! 🙂
      Have the most wonderful time…

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 10:59 pm

      Oh, how wonderful! Enjoy every moment.

  4. October 18, 2012 9:41 am

    Oh, it warms my heart (my beating, green, envious heart!) that you have been to Venice – immersed yourself in La Serenissima – for a week. What balm it must have been to your soul, and how you so deserve that after all the sadness of the year. (Did you need your water-wings around the city, though? The aqua was doubtless very Alta if they have had the same dreadful weather as us!).
    So looking forward to your pictures – and the puppy – what a delight!!!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 10:57 pm

      Thank you for your generosity, Roz. The weather was a pleasant surprise: wet and cool in the early mornings, warm and golden in the afternoons. The water level rose little by little every day until it was lapping at the feet of the palazzo containing our art studio: we were unable to leave our hotel by the water gate (as I had excitedly hoped for) last Saturday as the water taxi couldn’t get under the low bridges any more! It was a most beautiful time of year to be there.

  5. October 18, 2012 2:23 pm

    Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing them. Can’t wait for puppers pics!

  6. Margaret Lambert permalink
    October 18, 2012 7:49 pm

    What an absolutely delicious treat for you! I adore your photos, which exactly capture the way I think of Venice- not just canals, bridges and tiny alley ways, but rich detail as well. I’m sure it was exhilarating.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:01 pm

      Oh, thank you, Margaret. It’s gratifying that you recognise the same elements. Mind you, I have dozens and dozens of photos of bridges and canals too. 😉

  7. October 18, 2012 8:18 pm

    What a glorious vision! Actually being there must make you dizzy with so much to see. Magical details everywhere.
    Thanks for sharing (and we’ve a new pup, too….well in between a pup and a dog who desperately needed a place..can’t wait to hear about your new addition)

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:04 pm

      Yes, it literally did make me dizzy, although starting my holiday at 3.15 a.m. might have contributed a little to that too…! But I really found it a magical city.
      What to write about next: Venice, plus puppy, plus this beautiful autumn…just hope I get some time to write about anything soon. Good luck with your own new addition!

  8. October 18, 2012 9:40 pm

    Such lovely, observant photos, DB, and lucky, lucky you indeed to have a whole glorious week in Venice. As Roz has already said, you truly deserve it after such a sad summer and I’m glad your autumn is proving to be not as wet and miserable as further south. And a new puppy too, what joy! 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:05 pm

      You are so kind, thank you very much. Many reasons to give thanks this autumn. 🙂

  9. October 19, 2012 10:44 am

    I love the winged lion, he looks like he might take off into the sky!

    A new puppy, yay! 🙂 That’ll help you and your family keep your home warm during the cold months ahead, I’m sure.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:06 pm

      Isn’t he splendid. Rather imposing – I’d rather live with a puppy than a winged lion, on the whole. 😉 You know what they say: happiness is a warm puppy.

  10. October 19, 2012 5:10 pm

    OOoh I loved Venice on my only visit. I look forward to more photos. And a wee puppy to gladden the heart. Lots of adventures to be had!!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:07 pm

      They have begun already, I can tell you, starting with the discovery of the paper recycling box: the kitchen floor is now covered in shredded cardboard! 😀

  11. hmunro permalink
    October 19, 2012 8:49 pm

    “Venice seems to … have an extra dimension … an easy familiarity with the divine and the fantastical.” You’ve just answered the question that haunted me for an entire week, DB — and quite poetically, to boot.

    I’m so glad you had such a wonderful opportunity, and such a lovely time. Wish our paths had overlapped; it would have been magical to see this beautiful, beguiling city through your eyes. But your photos are a marvelous consolation.

    Welcome home! It’s great to have you back. 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:11 pm

      Thank you so much, Heather! I knew that you would have noticed that element of Venice as well. No one with a receptive soul could miss it.
      Wouldn’t it have been fun to have been there together. One day our travels will overlap! 🙂

  12. October 20, 2012 7:41 am

    Lucky you indeed! I hope it was refreshment for the soul. I’ve never been to Venice, but my mental images are shaped by Proust and Jan Morris, so I can begin to guess at the experience.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 21, 2012 11:17 pm

      Thanks, it was indeed. Now I just need time to let it all sink in: haven’t had time to stop (or even finish unpacking) since getting home in the middle of half term. I have already been away again on a short (and much less glamorous) trip since then. No wonder I feel a bit dizzy.
      When I can stay awake long enough, I look forward to carrying on with the inimitable Jan Morris, whose book on Venice I have been dipping into since before I went there. I am enjoying it even more now that I have first-hand experience of the city. I hope you’ll make it there one day.

  13. October 31, 2012 12:08 pm

    Oh the joys of Venice – and a new puppy! How perfect. (And I am so pleased to see you blogging again.)

    Venice remains my favourite city in the whole wide world. I first discovered its wonders when my daughter was studying in Italy and we spent a magical Christmas there when she was an undergraduate. There have been many visits since, together and with others, and we are now just planning our next trip – in March 2013. We will return to some of the places that our special to us (for me, a visit to the church of San Zaccaria to gaze at Bellini’s altarpiece) but, as always, Venice will surprise us, and we will stumble across something by chance that we have never noticed before. One of our most cherished places from that first visit – thanks to a tip from an old friend – is the Sala della Musica dell’Ospedaletto, a perfectly preserved 18th century music room, in what is now a residential home for elderly people. On a chilly Christmas Eve, we persuaded the caretaker to produce the enormous iron key to its door – I think the donation to the home helped – giving us the privilege of spending some private and quite awe-inspiring time there.

    • November 2, 2012 5:06 pm

      How very nice to see you here again, and thank you for sharing delicious memories. ‘Magical’ is a much overused word, but there really is something in the air of Venice: I can well imagine that your Christmas there was indeed magical. I’d love to go back in the chilly pearl grey of winter one day.


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