Standing across the Grand Canal from St Mark’s Square is the stately Santa Maria della Salute, all pristine and glowing in white like a fluffy cake slathered in fresh cream. She rises near the narrow tip of Dorsoduro, between the Grand Canal and the open lagoon. You can’t miss seeing her.
The grand church was built in an unusual octagon shape, in thanksgiving for delivering Venice from the Black Death in the 1600s. From a Chinese perspective, I guess it is fitting that the church is shaped like a ba-gua, an instrument used in Chinese astrology to define the most auspicious spaces. Who knows, maybe Marco Polo brought a little more Chinese culture and tradition home that we never knew about? That and the debate on noodles vs spaghetti? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Chinese noodles or spaghetti? Who cares? I just eat ’em all.
Sitting in the cool dim interior was a treat after the long hot walk outside. I loved the patterns on the floor and details of the gate. In fact I just sat in a corner and played with my camera. Never mind the great art by Titian and other masters all over the church. These were the result:
At the far end of the tapered nose of Dorsoduro, the Punta della Dogana, is the former customs house which now houses an exhibition on contemporary art. And keeping watch over the Venetian lagoon is Boy with Frog, an intriguing statue of a naked boy holding a frog. This was not here the last time I came.
I like this. It is unexpected, makes you think and I guess art should always be like this – trigger a response, both instinctive (love it or hate it) and intellectual (what the heck does it all mean?). Notice there is no stand, or plaque or anything that defines the boy as a statue. For all you know, he comes to life at night.
Last look at La Salute.
It was hot and we were tired. I didn’t think we could walk all the way back to the Accademia bridge and then back to the hotel, so we did the smart thing – hop on the nearest traghetto for a ride across the Grand Canal. The blue skies are lovely, but now I also know why the Italians love their long lunches and afternoon naps. Great way to beat the heat.