Today is the final day of the Venice Film Festival and everybody’s attention is focused on movies, actors and directors. My blog, though, is a food blog and no matter how much I would love to discuss what’s on, if I don’t want to lose my target I cannot dedicate a post on this specific topic, but … talking with my husband we realised that what really links Venice to the movies, more than the Festival itself, is actually food.
Does it sound strange? It may, but here below I will share some pictures that document how most closed cinemas have been transformed into supermarkets and restaurants. Until the 80s, Venice was rich both in cinemas and theaters, going to shows was normal and many were the cultural initiatives of every type. Then what happened was a combination of things: people forced to leave due to the high cost of life, cuts from the institutions with, as a consequence, less investments in public activities and the sky-rocketed cost of rents for commercial activities. Obviously this issue involved more spheres.
I took these pictures on Thursday while going to the Rio Tera’ dei Pensieri market, so the itinerary starts in Cannaregio and ends in San Marco, a sort of semi-circle of considerations. The first stop is in Cannaregio and it’s Cinema Giorgione. This is not an old cinema, it opened in 1999, but it was inaugurated with this new formula that gathers in the same unit a cinema and a super market, so just next to the it there is a Coop (quite a big one for Venice)!
Proceeding in the Strada Nuova, we reach our second stop: the Ex Cinema Teatro Italia, opened in 1914 as a theatre, then transformed into a cinema, a neo-gothic treasure of the early XX century, with an elegant façade, small columns and a mosaic sign. This space had stopped being used in the late 90s. I happened to take some university lessons here around 2010, but then Ca’ Foscari could not use it anymore as a classroom due to its precarious conditions. It is rumoured that in its last period of activities the movies that sold the most were soft porn…
Anyway, although it does break my heart to think of it, one has to admit that the Despar Group did spend more than 2 million euros for the restoration works returning to the city the stunning frescoes that had risked a very bad end. It’s forbidden to take pictures inside the supermarket, so I can’t show you how beautiful the space is, but you can have a peep in this website HERE.
Leaving this Neo Gothic beauty behind us, keep going straight on, cross the Guglie bridge and stop in Lista di Spagna in front of the Albergo Nazionale. If you look at it, you will notice that its structure is similar to the one of the Ex Cinema Italia and to the one we’ll see in a short while. On the ground floor there is a pizzeria, while the remaining parts of the building are of a hotel. The original sign was Cinema Nazionale, but the first word has been replaced with Albergo… so, be aware that it’s a fake! Personally I have never seen a film here (it closed in the 80s), but I remember the times when it was a sort of disco club called Casanova and it was one of the few places open all night and … what memories! It was about 15 years ago… let’s say no more.
From here I took the long way and crossed Calatrava bridge, stopped for my food shopping, crossed the iron bridge and passed in front of what was once Libreria Patagonia, my husband’s ex bookshop (now a kebab shop…) and arrived in Campo Santa Margherita. In the centre of the campo there is a well, in front of it a whitish tower with an herbalist on the ground floor and a faded mosaic sign indicating that this was the Cinema Moderno. Modern because in the same campo there was another cinema, known at the time as “Cine Vecio” (old cinema), which is now Ca’ Foscari’s auditorium.
Before arriving to the next cinema/super market I passed through Campo San Barnaba, where the famous scene from the movie Summertime where Katharine Hepburn falls in the canal was shot, then in front of the ex Cinema Accademia, today totally closed, with the shutters pulled down, and crossed the Accademia Bridge until Campo San Beneto.
So, here we are, in front of the recently restored Cinema Rossini with a Simply supermarket! At least this space is open and I have to say that the renovation works improved the different areas, making going to the movies a real pleasure, not to mention to comfy seats with the space for pop corns! I love it! I used to come here a lot with my mother as a child and still remember when we burst out crying during “The Lion King”… anyhow, it remained closed for years and was finally inaugurated in 2012. I don’t mind the fact that a supermarket is next to the cinema, actually I find it quite useful, plus… this is the only supermarket in Venice that sells my favourite biscuits!
Now let’s move to the ex Cinema Centrale, now a fancy restaurant and cocktail bar. Located in between the Fenice theatre and the Frezzeria, this was considered quite a big cinema. If you look carefully you can still see the sign "spettacoli" and other letters I am unable to decipher. Probably the only cinema with a direct water entrance...
The latest transformation concerns Teatro San Gallo, which was a cinema from 1924 up to the 90s and then, until last year, a theatre with shows addressed to tourists… Since last month it has become a centre with a sort of herbalist and cosmetics shop, a supermarket and a restaurant.
The final stop before going home is the ex Ritz, a tiny cinema with just one screen where I remember seeing “Everybody says I love you” by Woody Allen with my mum, partly shot in Venice (my hairdresser’s salon is in it too!). As you can see, now it’s a restaurant and not one of those listed in my Venice food guide…
That’s it for today! The final consideration I can make is that only one thing hasn't changed: pop corn. If in the past we used to buy it at the cinema, now we do it at the supermarket!
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