Friday, June 08, 2007

Things to do in Venice Summer 2007 –San Lazzaro degli Armeni

The biennale of Venice gets under way this week. If you are not into sitting through numerous several hour showings of “Artistic” films you will be looking for other things to do while visiting the romantic city of Venice.

How about a ride on a motorboat to the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni?

The island is located in the lagoon of Venice and inhabited by Monks. In reality, the monastery is the only thing that is on the little island. The building and gardens are tediously perfect, beautiful and balanced in color and form. The monastery is open to the public from 15:00-17:00 (that is 3-5 pm for our American readers) every day and is worth a visit. It is a bit different than everything else in Venice. While the monks charge a fee to visit the monastery, the funds are used for maintenance and charitable work. The monastery is an opportunity to see Venetian architecture without the touristy, pushy atmosphere that penetrates most places in Venice.

San Lazzaro is named after St. Lazarus, the patron saint of lepers. It was a leper colony from the 12th to 16th centuries, then was abandoned until Mechitar fled his Turkish persecutors in 1715 and came to Venice. The Venetian government obligingly gave San Lazzaro to Mechitar, who founded an Armenian order on the island. Mechitar and his 17 monks built a monastery, restored the crumbling lepers' church, and quadrupled the tiny island's area (originally 7000 square meters, or about 1-3/4 acres).

It is also host to a show of XX century artists for the entire summer. Among the many exhibits timed to coincide with the start of the world-renowned contemporary art fair on Sunday, five artists are being celebrated in personal shows exploring different aspects of their work.

The ideas of prolific German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) are the focus of an exhibition opening on June 10 in the Arsenale Novissimo.

Entitled Difesa della Natura - The Living Sculpture (Defending Nature - The Living Sculpture), it is based on a piece of the same name by Beuys, dedicated to promoting human harmony within the universe.

The event runs for 100 days, featuring art, video and conferences with the participation of humanitarian, social and environmental groups.

Curated by Lucrezia De Domizio Durini, the exhibit will be centred on a Living Sculpture created with people of different religious, ethnic and social backgrounds.

The influential ideas of the US conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth (b. 1945) are explored in another show opening June 10.

Entitled Il Linguaggio dell'Equilibrio (The Language of Balance), the exhibit has been designed to reflect the tranquillity of its location, the monastery island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni.

The Monastero di San Lazzaro degli Armeni has an extraordinary collection of treasures, including:

- A 150,000-volume library.

- More than 4,000 Armenian manuscripts, some nearly 1,300 years old.

- A Koran created after the death of Mohammed.

- An Indian papyrus from the 13th Century.

- A Egyptian sarcophagus and mummy from the 15th Century B.C.

- Thrones, tables, statues, paintings, tapestries, gold, silver, jewels, and other items that the monks either bought or received as gifts over the centuries.


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Blogger Jim Belshaw said...

Very interesting, David.

Noric Dilanchian, an Armenian friend, told me about this island before we went to Venice. Unfortunately we did not have time to find it. We obviously missed something.

1:54 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Jim Should you return you can catch the Vaporetto at 14:45 from S.Marco and be there in less than 10 minutes!

6:28 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that I have filed away! Jim

1:27 AM


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