July falls in the peak of high season. It still sounds crazy to me that someone prefers plunging into the sweaty crowds but if you are one of those who likes humid hot weather, throngs concentrating in the narrow alleys, and quite high prices, you’re welcome to get visiting Venice in July. At the same time, it’s a mecca for art lovers since all the engaging museums and exhibitions are open.
The Biennale, first of all. “May You Live in Interesting Times” is the intriguing title of the 58th International Art Exhibition curated by the American critic Ralph Rugoff. The exhibition opens from May until November at the two locations of Giardini and Arsenale every day, except on Mondays, from 10 to 18. Tickets are various and some categories can be bought in advance online.
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The most important exhibition ever held in Italy on Arshile Gorky is underway at Ca’ Pesaro. The Armenian-American artist was highly influential on Abstract Expressionism (open 10-18, closed on Mondays). At Stanze del Vetro in San Giorgio, the exhibition on Maurice Marinot, the French artist who paved the way to much contemporary glassmaking, is open until July 28. The beautiful little museum is free and opens 10-18 except on Wednesdays.
On the near island of Giudecca, another interesting exhibition is at Tre Oci: the work of the Sicilian photographer Letizia Battaglia (open 10-19, closed on Tuesdays). At the fascinating Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Nature of Arp presents a compelling look at Jean Arp whose experimental approach to the creative process and radical rethinking of traditional art forms resonate with the wide-ranging character of art today.
For the many who want to indulge outdoors, one is the unmissable event: the feast of Redentore. On the third Saturday of the month, Venetians walk to Giudecca to visit the church of Redentore and give thanks. For a few days, the island is connected to Venice with a temporary bridge spanning from Zattere that opens at 7 pm on July 20.
The evening meal is exclusively outdoors: the banks of the island fill up with tables and people have their dinner while waiting for the spectacular firework show that starts at 11.30. One of the typical dishes of the day is bovoleti, tiny snails cooked with plenty of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. Many prefer to take a boat and moor in front of Piazza San Marco.
It is always possible to hire one and have your dinner there but remember that it gets very crowded. Restaurants are available but a table has to be booked well in advance: our suggestions at Giudecca are the simple La Palanca (near the boat stop with the same name), Trattoria ai Cacciatori or the more sophisticated Trattoria Altanella. On Sunday afternoon, three competitive regattas are scheduled and the feast ends with a votive mass.