Where he art is

Italy’s watery city is a place of joy for art lovers everywhere, especially during the

five-month Biennale. Words: Helen Monaghan

ver since my borne town of Birmingham declared

that it had more canals than Venice. I've wanted

to see the place for myself. While Birmingham has water-lapped public houses. Venice has palaces. And whether it’s fact or fiction. who cares'.’ I'd rather go to Venice than Brum any day.

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Famed for its intricate maze of canals and its gondolas. it should also be celebrated for its festivals. The Venice Biennale. which takes place every two years. is a multicultural feast of contemporary visual art. The city lives and breathes am. It‘s everywhere you go. Walking down one of the many labyrinthine streets. you can stumble upon a run-down paIa/zo housing a video installation or an exhibition of paintings. Take a vaporetto boat ride along the Grand (‘anal and there's something to see at almost every stop.

The tree-lined (iiardini offers welcome shade from a city in which temperatures can soar. It is home to the many custom-built national pavilions for the Biennale. and each building is diverse in design and content. ()ne of the most visited pavilions is. of course. ltaly's. and it is well worth queuing up for. This year‘s exhibition. curated by the Biennale director. Francesco Bonami. is a group show by international artists and features everything from .-\ndy Warhol's rediscovered 1965 movie. Inner and Outer Space. to Damien Hirst's medicine cabinet filled with pills. Other notable pavilions include the British. which houses new paintings by Chris ()lili. The space is conceived as an installation. suffused with the colours of the pan-.-\frican


flag. rich red and green. Another must-see is the work of

()laftir liliasson. llc transforms the Danish pa\ ilion with his reyersed perspectiye spy-holes. geometric oddities tllltl sci-ll L‘tlyes.

liven for the most ardent art oner. sustaining the same leyel of enthusiasm from start to finish is not easy. Make time for the Scottish payilion at the l’a|a//o (instinian-l.o|in and of course. the \lanehester l’ayilion on l‘ondementa Briati. It is simply a ptib. e\hibiting no art. and is a good meeting place to discuss the day 's eyents.

If that} feel like an oyerload‘. but you can‘t leaye Venice without making a detour to the l’eggy (iiiggenheim Collection. an oasis in l)orsoduro. The narrow streets of Rialto are a great place to get lost and discoyer small. friendly bars and interesting shops. .\lar\el at the architecture at the much \isitcd l’iax/a San Marco and the Basilica di San Marco. linioy an ice-cold beer in one of Venice's many open squares. l‘eel the sand between your toes in the short boat trip to l.ido or \ isit the famed glass factory in .\lurano.

Bil/xing with energy and beautiful to behold the Biennale's only drawback is that it only happens eyery two years. Roll on 3005.

The Venice Biennale runs until 2 Nov. See www.labiennale. org. Thanks to Ryanair for travel from London to Venice and Verona and GNER for travel to London. Contact 08547 225 225 or visit www.gner.co.uk and log on to www.ryanair.com for full flight details.


Venice’s little sister comes into her own

\.".'a":i»t-ririti through the :ttyllie streets .it Vet ina the 'lll'ltl t‘a.:‘-.i=rte.'tt-'y {l'fts to Bar titan/1‘ Hymn) l,.r."rri‘.anri's

M W ltftr'l‘.’(?"i't')". of Romeo t“; ././.'it2,’. Lubrrriario's hip re- "trupretation of Shakespeare's fariious play may have been ..ri<:att:; to the n‘rozierirday cit, ri‘ Voioita Beach. but the xisua‘ sensitirivt', of the ltl'll. and tits..- Vibraricy and intensin of Shakespeare's tale are still obscryed in Verona proper. Seductive Gothic archstecture inaster'tuiii, imposes over the backstreets Mir-(l ‘.‘.’ll ‘. funky ll()tl\.’f,‘£itl “(Elle shopping; eniporiuihs like Prada and Gucci.

Renaissance art dexemped ih Verona considerably latm than .t did it‘. Florence. z i; seer: in churches like San loriirnaso Cantirariense. San Nazaro and San Bernaidirio. which display overall lll(:(ll(3".’{li characteristics. It you only have time for one during; ydiir stay. make it Bernardznn the siniplicny and c:ear artrr:ii:atioh of the facade is

Check out the Piazza (lelle Erbc. As host to the statue of Madonna Verona (she holds a scroll signifying beauty and ltlSilCUl. this is a central rrieetirig place for families and young Veronians out for the night. A few minutes walk and you meet the Piazza Bra. bound by the arena and oftering wonderful, reasonably priced ore-theatre meals before you take in some opera at the arena or theatre in the internal courtyard of the Mercato Vecchio. Shakespeare tans WI“, and shOuId. be drawn to Romeo's House. Juliet's balcony and Juliet's Tomb iinaugurated in 1970. the museum houses a collector of Roman amphora).

While Luhrmann br0ught us Shakespeare in an accessmle Visual pastiche. Verona is the perfect taster of all things Italian. all presented in a modest nutshell. (Anna Millar)

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