Monthly Archives: October 2014

Book heaven: Venice!

dolphin & anchorAldus

Aldus in his printshop, by Francois Flameng (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons.

With a coin in my palm and Papa as my guide, I discovered something wonderful about Venice—its printing presses (which are also bookshops)!

After visiting smaller presses, we arrived at the most famous bookshop in the city, with a Dolphin and Anchor symbol outside the door. Aldo Manuzio founded the press even before Papa was born, and now the founder’s scholarly grandson, Aldo Manuzio il Giovane, runs it.

Papa tells me that before the elder Aldus became a publisher, he was a scholar who studied and promoted Greek literature in Italy. He edited and commissioned editions of books in Greek, Latin, and our common tongue.

Now, whenever I see a book with the “Dolphin and Anchor” printing emblem, I’ll know it’s from this press—a symbol of the ancient proverb the elder Aldus took as his motto, “Festina lente” (hurry up slowly).

If only I could decide which book to buy with my coin!




A breath-taking discovery: Titian’s Assumption of the Virgin

Titian Assumption

Assumption of the Virgin (1516-18), Titian [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons,

Yesterday my father took me to a new church, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, in Venice’s San Polo neighborhood not far from our palazzo. I hope it won’t be my last visit!

As soon as we entered the sanctuary, I couldn’t help but notice the huge painting above the altar—as tall as four men! Its bright reds and golds caught my eye, and I found myself walking up the aisle all the way to the front.  On the vast canvas, the Virgin Mary was rising from clouds held by cherubs to meet Jesus in heaven.  The disciples stood below, watching, craning their necks and raising their arms.

This painting—so active and dramatic, the people so realistic I could read their emotions and almost watch them breathe—was different from anything I’d seen before.  Papa told me it was painted by Titian, Venice’s master artist who died in the recent Plague epidemic.  Thank God he lived long enough to finish this amazing painting and many others that I hope to see soon!