Wednesday, October 31, 2012


The island of San Giorgio Maggiore is one vaporetto stop away from the Venetian mainland. One can even say it's literally within swimming-across-the-Grand-Canal distance, as  one can readily see its landmark church, made of white marble (aptly named Church of San Giorgio Maggiore).

Once you step off the vaporetto and onto the island, turn around and you will be rewarded by an unobstructed view of the highlights of the mainland:

Unobstructed view of the Venetian mainland: Bell tower, Basilica San Marco and Doge Palace.

Here's how the grand, imposing church looks up close:

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore

Another highlight is the San Giorgio Monastery, which also presently serves as the headquarters of the Cini Foundation.  No one, save for a few monks, lives inside the monastery; and it is only open for guided tours on weekends, with tours in English alternating with tours in Italian. Cost is EURO 10.00.

I visited San Giorgio Maggiore on a Sunday afternoon, and was struck by how quiet it was. Hardly anyone around. Eventually, only 3 of us signed up to take the guided tour (2 Italian ladies and moi). Rather than split us up, our friendly guide decided to do her dialogue and spiels in both languages. [She was huffing and puffing by the end of the tour, haha!]
According to our guide, the Cini Foundation (Fondazione Giorgio Cini) was established by Count Vittorio Cini in memory of his son, Giorgio, who died in an airplane accident near Cannes in 1949. It aimed to restore the island (which was destroyed by military occupation), and make it a center for Venetian culture and history.  

Amongst other things, the former monastery is a venue for cultural and art events. It has two libraries, namely: The Longhena Library, completed way back in 1671; and the modern library (“Nuova Manica Lunga"), which both focus on Italian (and Venetian) history and culture. 

Check out the photo of the modern library below. We were totally blown away by its simple, yet elegant design; and functionality (yes, it has Internet connection!). 

Nuova Manica Lunga

The foundation also owns a complete archive of all known works of the great Italian composer Vivaldi (amongst other artists), and offers scholarships for those interested in specializing in Italian culture.

The latest addition to this place is the Borges Labyrinth, a joint effort by the the FundaciĆ³n Internacional Jorge Luis Borges and the Cini Foundation. It was intended as a tribute to the celebrated Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges, and opened on June 15, 2011 (right on his 25th death anniversary).

Look closely and you will see the word "Borges" spelled out. It also reproduced all of Borges' favorite symbols: a stick, a hourglass, a tiger, and a question mark.

San Giorgio Maggiore is defnitely worth visiting on a weekend! Check out their website here for more information on this lovely island.

1 comment:

Koryn said...

Oh, this labyrinth reminds me of a scene from Ever After!