The Biennale is open 6 days a week, so the stewards collectively get one day off altogether. Last Monday, we went to the Lido, a long island part of Venice, home to various beaches, some of which are public and others private. Its a popular spot for Venetians and tourists in the summer months.
The Lido hosts the Venice Film Festival every September. The Grand Hotel Excelsior is located here, once the largest hotel in Europe, decorated in Moorish style, recalling a grand Venetian place but possibly more widely acclaimed as the setting for Thomas Mann's novel Death in Venice. The celebrities who attend the Film Festival stay here.
Being only mere stewards we went to one of the large public beaches for the afternoon sun, and the pleasure of bathing in the warm, clean Adriatic Sea.
The Lido, as seen in Luchino Visconti's 1971 adaption of 'Death in Venice'
Public transport in Venice is the vaparetto, a water bus. Or you can hire a water taxi, though it is expensive (€80 in some cases). The former option is the cheapest but not necessarily so, as a 60 minute ticket costs €7 (which will realistically only be a one way journey). Residents of Venice can get a special pass so traveling between islands is much cheaper, at around €1.30 a journey. Some of the others here with who are working for the three month duration of the Biennale are finding it difficult to obtain these cards. It is a shame that there isn't better value for tourists here, even short term residents, as we are. We opted for a 12 hour ticket, costing €18.
San Giorgio Maggiore taken from in front of the Doge's Palace, on San Marco
After a leisurely afternoon on the beach we made our way to the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore. The Church here, San Giorgio Maggiore, was designed by Andrea Palladio and built between 1566 and 1610. The paintings in the church include works by the famous Venetian Renaissance artist, Tintoretto. Entry to the Church is free but it costs €5 to go up the bell tower, which apparently boasts the best view of Venice, even better than San Marco. I regret not going up at the time!
The interior of the church is very bright with massive engaged columns and pilasters on undecorated, white-surfaced walls. The interior combines a long basilican nave with a cruciform plan with transepts.
While we were there we had the advantage of taking in an exhibition at Fondazione Cini (on San Giorgio Maggiore) - Carlo Scarpa. Venini 1932–1947. Scarpa was an Italian architect, influenced by the materials, landscape, and the history of Venetian culture, and Japan. His work can be seen in many of the buildings around Venice, particularly at the University.
The exhibition consists of over 300 works, reconstructing Carlo Scarpa’s career in the years when he was artistic director of the Venini glassworks, from 1932 to 1947. Wonderful exhibition, on a beautiful island.
That evening we wandered up to Fondamenta della Misericordia, north of San Marco, to Paradiso Perduto where we found ourselves in a large group, seated cross legged beside the canal, as Venetians do, drinking from a €6 jug of red wine, chatting for hours, forgetting about our sunburn if only for a while. The place was buzzing with locals and students, with a great vibe and what looked to be some delicious food. I'd recommend it, and hopefully will find myself back there another Monday evening for some jazz before I leave!