The heat is back in Venice! We had three wonderful days, but from this morning humidity started ruling again. August for me is a rather quiet month workwise, so when I can I either go to the beach or seek refuge in a museum and, while council museums are always free for residents, private foundations offer free admission every certain day and for the Pinault Collection this is Wednesday, so let's go.
Today I am taking you to Punta della Dogana, former customs buildings, restored by Tadao Ando between 2007 and 2009, now contemporary art museum.
To reach the museum from the Saint Mark's district we need to cross the Accademia Bridge, which takes us to Dorsoduro. Turn left and left again at the first large calle and before entering the so-called triangle of museums stop for a coffee at Caffè Poggi.
This small coffee shop is one of the few really authentic places in the area, Stefano, the owner has managed this place for something like 30 years and still enjoys his job and a nice chat.
It's a just standing place, offering excellent coffee and croissants in the morning. It's also possible to buy particular liquors like absinthe or aged grappa, gourmet jams and marmalades, olive oil, condiments and biscuits. When I first met Vittorio we were living two minutes from here and would always buy a bar of chocolate. At the time it was chocolate from Modica (Sicily), while now he has a selection of Stainer chocolate bars that come with a beautiful packaging that he thought himself, with the paintings by Nicola Tenderini, a local artist.
After the coffee I headed towards the museum passing in front of the San Gregorio Abbey and the Salute Church. This is a very quiet area, especially in the evening. I have always found it incredibly elegant but when we lived here we found doing the shopping a bit unhandy. Initially there were some fruit and veg stalls, but gradually they all closed and the closest supermarket is in San Basilio. Still, we managed to survive and despite the crumbling house we were living in, we loved the neighbourhood.
At the point of the triangle of museums, there is Punta della Dogana. The restoration works and the Pinault collection itself have been widely criticised, but personally...I love Punta della Dogana and the way it looks and, with regard to the different exhibitions, I believe it's always worth seeing everything, especially if there is the possibility you might not like it! If you ask me, the location and the view alone are good reasons to visit.
Right now and until the 3rd of December the exhibition is "Treasures from the wreck of the unbelievable", the first major solo exhibition dedicated to Damien Hirst in Italy since 2004 and it's really well worth seeing. Have a look ....
The part I preferred ...
These are just a few picks, so you can decide for yourself...
When I was at university (I graduated in Conservation of the Cultural Heritage), my fellow students and I would come here nearly every Wednesday afternoon for the weekly art talk, followed by an aperitif in the terrace on the Giudecca Canal with live music. It was awesome! They still organise these meetings (they are free and open to anyone interested, just check their website) during the year and, if you are into contemporary art, I also suggest checking the calendar of Teatrino Grassi.
The ticket for the Pinault Collection is 18 euros and in addition to Punta della Dogana, you also have 1 admission to Palazzo Grassi, where the exhibition continues... I have already visited and I loved it. For today I got my dose of art and now I'm meeting some friends for a white spritz, but next Wednesday I'll take you there too!
If you want to stay in the museum area and don't know where to eat, my suggestion is to stop at AI CUGNAI, a very good quality trattoria with very good prices and delicious food. Jimmy, the manager, is one of the kindest guys I have ever met. We actually used to work together in a bar in Rialto when I was 19 and he was always so helpful that I cannot forget his kindness (he would work for 4, really!).
You can tell it's a good restaurant because all the gondoliers that work nearby go there for lunch! And Stefano, the owner of the above mentioned Caffè Poggi, is probably their most loyal client and friend!
If, instead, you just want to snack, walk a bit further and reach Cantine del Vino già Schiavi for cicchetti, Bar Toletta for tramezzini or... go to the kiosk in Zattere for an easy going sandwich and a cold beer with a view!
I suppose I gave you enough info for today, so... bye for now and talk to you soon!
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