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February 2011

January 2011

The Gustavus Choir in Venice, Italy

Gustavus Choir Venice concert poster

ABOVE: A poster for the Gustavus Choir's concert in Venice during its 2011 Italy Tour.

In the musical realm, Venice is a city of pleasant surprises. Over the years, we've attended performances by visiting groups that have ranged from the Shaker Heights High School Band (Ohio, USA) to a choir concert by a pair of Australian prep schools.

Yesterday, after seeing a poster near the Rialto Bridge, we went to the Church of San Salvador for a free concert by The Gustavus Choir from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, USA. (If we hadn't seen the poster, we might have learned about the concert in another way: Before show time, a dozen or so young men from the choir sang on the busy street in front of the church while members of their retinue handed out flyers to passersby.)

Gustavus Adolphus is a Lutheran institution with Swedish roots, and--like many church-related colleges in the United States--it has an outstanding music program. We were blown away by the quality of The Gustavus Choir's performance, which covered a repertoire that ranged from Gregorian chant to a recent work by the American composer Stephen Paulus.

During the concert's closing song, a number of choir parents took videos from the pews. Cheryl followed their example, and here are a few snippets of the Gustavus Choir's performance in Venice on Thursday, January 27, 2011. (The man with the baton is Professor Gregory J. Aune, who has conducted the Gustavus Choir for 16 years.):


Street signs in Venice

Street sign in Venice, Italy

When you're trying to find a major landmark in Venice, it's often easiest to put your Venice street map away and follow the crowd to destinations such as:

San Marco (the Piazza, the Basilica, the Campanile, and the Doge's Palace)

Accademia (the Accademia Bridge, the Accademia art gallery)

Rialto (Rialto Bridge, fish market, and food market)

Ferrovia (railroad station)

Piazzale Roma (cars, buses, parking, cruise shuttle buses, and People Mover)

Along the way,  you'll see signs with names of streets and campi, which often are in Venetian dialect instead of standard Italian.

But the most important signs, if you aren't familiar with the city's geography, are the signs--both official and unofficial--that will guide you to where you're going. Here are examples of the signs on buildings or above passages that mark some of the major pedestrian routes in Venice's historic center:

Venice San Marco street sign
1Venice Per San Marco sign   Venice Rialto sign   Piazzale Roma and Ferrovia sign
Venice directional sign  Venice sign on building  Hand-lettered street sign in Venice
Ferrovia Venezia sign  San Marco graffiti sign in Venice  Alla Ferrovia e Piazzale Roma Venezia  Stenciled street sign in Venice

For more advice on getting around without getting lost, see "Walking in Venice: Finding your way with maps, directions, and street signs" at

January closings in Venice

January is traditionally a slow month in the Venetian tourist calendar. Ten or 15 years ago, it wasn't unusual for hotels, restaurants, and other tourist businesses to shut down in December and remain closed until the end of January.

Nowadays, businesses' vacations are usually shorter--anything from a holiday weekend over Epiphany to a few weeks--but if maintenance or renovation are scheduled, a restaurant or tourist shop might be closed for a month or more. (Just the other day, we noticed that the Caffè Quadri in the Piazzo San Marco was closed for refurbishment, and so was one of Venice's best ice-cream shops, La Boutique del Gelato.)

Don't be surprised when you encounter signs like these as you walk around Venice in January:

Venice sign Venice vacation sign

Venice store sign
Venice shop sign
Venice chiuso per ferie sign
venice store maintenance sign
venezia aviso
chiuso per ferie
riapertura sign in venice