Today, all of us woke up early to catch the vaporetto to the cemetery island, San Michele. The island still serves the Venetian population as a place to bury deceased loved ones, but dates back to Napoleon. The cemetery island is surprisingly beautiful, with lush grounds including grass, trees, and roses. Grass is an especially rare sight in Venice! The island was still and serene, a stark difference from the hustle and bustle we have experienced throughout Venice so far. The only noise was some faint construction, the seagulls, and boat engines in the distance. One could say it was “hauntingly” beautiful.
Once we had explored some of the older graves, we settled in and began to sketch and paint for approximately two hours. Many of the headstones and grave markers were in very poor conditions, with entire chunks of marble split from the headstone. This made for very interesting subjects to pick from; I was particularly drawn to the tombstones that featured the crestfallen angel with arms outstretched. They seemed the most emotional and the most haunting.
Although the cemetery made for a great painting subject, there was a tinge of sadness that came along with it. It was a reminder that these people buried here no longer had anyone who remembered them or cared about them after death. There was a realization of our own mortality and how life is simply but a fleeting thing. Despite the sadness we all felt, those who were visiting their loved ones seemed to appreciate the art we were making, rather than seeing us as annoying tourists.
In our following freetime, many of us decided we wanted to see if our gelato experience would be any better than the gelato we had eaten the previous day. We were not let down! A little gelato store nearby our palazzo sold a single scoop for only €1.80. The price and quality was better than the day before! If you find yourself in Venice, I highly recommend cheesecake gelato. Not only is it sweet due to the berry topping, but truly creamy and tangy like the cream cheese filling of a real cheesecake.
Once our freetime was over, it was back to calorie burning- by which I mean plenty of walking. We went to the Accademia Museum, where we saw Titian’s “Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple.” This was a classic Titian, in that the painting features lots of movement and vivid coloring. We also were able to view many pre-Renaissance religious paintings, which always bring a good chuckle. This, in addition to a quick hunt for specific landmarks leading towards San Sebastiano, concluded our day.