29 March 2016

Contemporary Venice Tour

Venice is a mere two and a half hours by train from Milan, the perfect counterpart to a visit to Milan.
As well as its huge historic, artistic and architectural heritage, the city of lagoons also contains a multitude of projects signed by the great names in Italian and international modern and contemporary architecture.
The Ponte della Costituzione, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is the first of these; its red steelwork arching across the canal towards the Nuovi Uffici del Tribunale, by C+S Architects. Formerly the Manifattura Tabacchi factory, the building is now a compact volume covered with oxidised copper, a perfect blend of historic and contemporary. A trip on the new driverless overground People Mover tram is an absolute must; designed by Francesco Cocco, it links the Isola del Tronchetto to Piazzale Roma, via the docks.
The Accademia Gallery, with its huge collection of Venetian paintings is well worth a visit. It has recently re-opened after being restored and renovated by Tobia Scarpa and overlooks the Grand Canal, the city’s main waterway, with its majestic fringe of ancient, noble palazzi. One of these is Palazzo Grassi, now the splendid headquarters of the Pinault Contemporary Art Foundation, restored internally by star architect Tadao Ando.
The Prada Foundation at Ca’Corner della Regina, is another contemporary art centre and exhibition space.
Slightly hidden in the huddle of sixteenth-century buildings in Campo Santa Maria Formosa is the Querini Stampalia, one of the city’s historic libraries, where temporary exhibitions are often held on the ground floor, redesigned by Carlo Scarpa and Mario Botta.
St Mark’s Square is another absolute must. The Olivetti Showroom at number 101, designed by Carlo Scarpa, opened in 1958; it is a magnificent example of twentieth-century architecture, its display windows opening out over the square. Close by is Ca’Giustinian, the historic headquarters of the Biennale, where the typical Venetian aperitif, the spritz, can be savoured on its panoramic terrace.
Right opposite, a wander round the Isola San Giorgio, in St Mark’s Basin, is recommended. The Giorgio Cini Foundation is based in a former Benedictine monastery, containing amazing sixteenth and seventeenth-century architecture by Palladio, Buora and Longhena; it also showcases temporary exhibitions of work by world-renowned contemporary artists.
As well as a visit to the splendid collection conserved at the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the former Venetian home of the well-know art collector Peggy Guggenheim, no trip to Venice is complete without a visit to the Arsenale, the oldest shipyard in the world, now a spectacular home to the Venice Biennale.

MILAN CITY WALKS