The walls of the Arsenale

The Arsenale in Venice remained an object of interest and frustration to me. I had glimpses of parts of it during the Biennale, but there was no one to tell me the stories, to make the structures come alive. Several visits to the Naval Museum helped to fill some of the gaps, but I really yearned to know what it was like during its days of activity.

Walking along a calle in Castello, I looked up to see this portion of the external wall, with massive restraining bolts tethering it in place.

Another piece of the outer walls.

And, a closer look at that old piece of carved stone. I wonder when it was put in place?

More provocative glimpses.

What’s your bet? Will I ever get inside for a really good prowl, with a knowledgeable guide?

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32 Comments

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32 responses to “The walls of the Arsenale

  1. Caroline

    P.S. Forgot to say about the cats – there was just one there, who was eating at the time. But there’s a book in the doorway with a title of something like ‘don’t touch the cats’, so I assume we are not supposed to try to stroke or cuddle them?

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    • Oh-oh, if you’re reserved Brits, I’ll have to try to curb my gregarious nature if I’m ever lucky enough to meet you! And, Luigi isn’t what you’d call a shrinking violet, by any stretch of the imagination. The cats just do whatever they please, so if they don’t want a pat, you’re out of luck.

      You’ve got lots of wonderful areas of Venice to poke into, haven’t you? Please do go to Campo Ruga (and its surrounds) one day when you’re in Castello. That area just resonates with me, for some reason.

      How good to find un giallo that was giallo! Ciao.

      Oh, did you feel that latest darned earthquake? People must feel so edgy.

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      • Caroline

        I get a lot more gregarious after alcohol 🙂

        Thanks for the tip about Campo Ruga, I don’t think we’ve been there.

        Monday’s earthquake to us was just a very gentle wobbling of our classroom floor – much gentler than the previous one – but sadly seems to have had more casualties near the epicentre although a bit lower on the Richter scale. I wonder if that was because it centred on a more built-up area?

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  2. Caroline, I located a site where you can access a free download of the book (or read it online). So, thank you again for mentioning it.

    http://archive.org/details/guidaperlarsena00casogoog

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    • Caroline

      Hi Yvonne. Oh, that’s interesting, thanks very much. I thought it was a brand new book, but presumably it’s a new reprint? We went into the Acqua Alta bookshop today for the first time & I noticed it in there. Presumably the author wasn’t, as I’d assumed, at the Ateneo event!

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      • Hi, Caroline. Did you like the Acqua Alta bookshop? Was Luigi in attendance, and the nice cats?

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        • Caroline

          Oh dear – I’m a bit ambivalent about secondhand bookshops and Luigi spoke to us as soon as we entered, which made me nervous. I know he was being friendly but you know our British reserve! Anyway, after exploring the further reaches with the canal view he recommended to us, I was pleased when I made my way back to the entrance room and realised that contained new stuff, with lots of interesting things like at least one decent-looking Venetian cookbook (we just have Francesco Da Mosto’s so far). To show willing Phil bought un giallo which was actually giallo, which he liked, and had a bit of a chat with Luigi. We will go back now, I’m sure. Btw we’d never heard of it before reading of it on your blog, so thanks again! It’s not an area we’ve thoroughly explored before.

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  3. Caroline

    Hi Yvonne. There was an event at the Ateneo on Monday to present a new book, ‘Guida per l’Arsenale di Venezia’ by Giovanni Casoni. We thought this would have been interesting but unfortunately it was a choir practice night; perhaps you may be interested in looking out for it though.

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    • That could be just the incentive I need to be serious about learning more Italian, Caroline. I’ve recently ordered a book of photographs by Riccardo Roiter, I’ll check on the website of that supplier. Thank you!

      Is Phil enjoying his participation in the choir?

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  4. I know the Campo you mention, but I don’t remember that plaque. (Shame on me.) You’ve wakened my sleepy curiosity, Sig. Thanks for the tough question!

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  5. Sig. Nonloso

    Forgive me for asking a question rather than contributing any info, Yvonne, but did you happen to see that marble plaque high on the outer wall of the Arsenale facing Campo de Gorne (I think it is)? The pretty little narrow campo along a fondamenta just a short way over the bridge from the Church of San Martino? It commemorates someone who was “scalpallato”–excuse the spelling–or, I believe, scalped? Do you know anything about this?

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  6. Watch out for the brambles as you sneak in.

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  7. Jo

    Hi Yvonne – apparently now would be the best time as the Admiral’s Cup is being hosted in Venice and they are using the Arsenale, can’t remember where I read it, but you can go and look at the yachts (for a small charge) – so you had better hop on yr magic carpet and get over there!

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    • Hi, Jo. I’ll just have to start planning for next year, I think! Or, point out to the city fathers that they might have another attraction just sitting there most of the year. I realise that parts of it are used, and parts are open for exhibitions for the Biennale, but I wonder if there are others who would appreciate seeing and knowing more about it?

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  8. OK, Daniela, that sounds like a very good plan! And, the Su e Zo per i Ponti should be in April, also.

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  9. You had to be in Venice last weekend, when America’s Cup based on Arsenale.It was a wonderful moment to visit it because there were free guided tour. Next America’s Cup in Venice will be on April 2013!

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  10. Rob C

    Yvonne, as said, if anyone can do it, it’ll be you!
    Let’s hope you manage it when we’re there to accompany you, after all every photographer needs an assistant.

    Rob

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    • Now, that would make all the effort worth my while, Rob!

      If you don’t already know about the site, have a look at the one Randy (first comment) has mentioned. It covers so much of Venice, aside from the Arsenale, you can spend days/weeks scouring through it!

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  11. Melissa

    Ha Lou, that’s exactly what I was thinking as I read Yvonne’s post, even before I saw your post!! So……ditto what Lou said!

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  12. Lou

    If ANYONE can – it will be you Yvonne!! 🙂

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  13. Other Yvonne

    If anyone could get in for that prowl, I have a feeling it would be you 😉 What an experience that would be! We have really been looking forward to going to the Naval Museum, hope to get a glimpse into the Arsenale’s history.

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    • In one room, they have drawings of the Arsenale site, with the legend along the sides. I was wishing I had a step-ladder, to get closer to the tiny printing. It is a really cool museum! Put plenty of time aside for it, Yvonne.

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  14. Michelle

    I think you will indeed manage this adventure.

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  15. Well Yvonne, I do hope that someday you do get in for that prowl with a knowledgeable guide. I would love to read your reports!

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  16. Ah, the Arsenale. You may have already accessed this site which tells a few of the tales: http://www.veneziamuseo.it/ARSENAL/caxa_arsenal.htm

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    • Huh! My previous reply to you has been “disappeared”! Thanks so much for that link, you know what I’ll be hunched at the computer with now, don’t you, Randallo!

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