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Posts Tagged ‘Mark Gordon Smith Travel Blog’

For many years, this island in the Venetian Lagoon, not far from the Lido, was a secret of the city. Slowly, the word is reaching the world about a living treasure of enormous intellectual and spiritual importance; San Lazzaro degli Armeni.

Bookmarked by two Mocenigo family members who became Doges, Giovanni Il Cornaro was Doge of the city of Venice in 1715 when a group of seventeen Armenian monks arrived, seeking refuge after being ousted by Turkish occupiers in the area now known as Greek’s Peloponnese.

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The Cloister of San Lazzaro degli Armeni

The rule of the day was that no religious orders were permitted to live in the canal-narrow confines of the city proper. An island, however, was another thing altogether. With the  support of the Venetian Senate, the monks were given an island within site of St. Mark’s Square. That island, once home to a leper colony,  became known as San Lazzaro degli Armeni, The Island of St. Lazarus of the Armenians.

Why all this history? Well, in order to better understand the treasure that lay securely within a very modern library, it is always helpful to have a framework in which to understand the gifts that they gave to Venice and the world.

The founder of the order, Mekhitar, was accompanied on his journey from Armenia to Venice with seventeen other monks. Mekhitar’s translated name is “The Comforter”-though this writer cannot locate any reference to how this was translated.

Knowing that the Armenian culture would continue to suffer a long and painful demise, Mekhitar took it upon the Order to begin the creation of what would become one of the extant three centers of Armenian culture; San Lazzaro, Echmiadzin near Yerevan in Armenia and Vienna.

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The Illuminated Manuscript Library – San Lazzaro degli Armeni

The collection is now housed in two libraries; one contains over 150,000 volumes regarding Armenian language, religion and culture. Mekhitar’s priceless collection of over 35,000 volumes along with his personal library are contained in the larger of the two libraries.  The other, more modern, structure contains over 4,500 masterpieces of illumined manuscripts.

In addition to collecting works of cultural importance, the monks also established a book press where, from the mid 16th century until 1991 they printed innumerable books of primarily Armenian focus.

Lord Byron?

 

A brief aside for those who have a passion and interest in the work of Lord Byron. He arrived in Venice in 1816 and took up acquaintance with the monks. He eventually spent time on the island, studied the Armenian language and assisted in the compilation of an English-Armenian language grammar reference. It was in 1817 that Byron removed himself from Venice and the fellowship of the monks, and headed to Greece. It was there, in 1824, that he succumbed to a fever while living in Missolonghi.

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The Memorial Marker – Lord Byron

Some of Byron’s items remain at San Lazzaro; a pen and desk he used and some other items. There is also a memorial marker on the island to remember his kindnesses to the monks of San Lazzaro.

Please make plans to include a visit to this fascinating and little known island when you are next in Venice.

IF YOU GO:

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Route #20 – Vaporetto Venice

A visit to the island can only be made by leaving on the 3:15PM vaporetto #20 from S. Zaccaria stop near St. Mark’s Square to the island. Upon arrival, you are greeted by some of the monks who will lead you on a tour. The tour takes about an hour and you are back at S. Zaccaria by around 4:45PM.

 

San Lazzaro degli Armeni

Vaporetto Route information (to check for any possible changes in schedule) Tel: 011+39.272.2111

Monastery Tel: +39.41.52.60.104

Web: Monastero Mechitarista

Join us in Italy on one of our small group excursions across Italy. Four itineraries.  Your own villa. Daily multi-lingual tour lead and support. Relax. Unwind. Come home again to Italy.

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Those of you fortunate enough to be in Italy this coming weekend, 24 and 25 September, can take advantage of extended museum hours and reduced museum entrance fees as part of the annual celebration of European Heritage.

The Florence Tourist Information Office has published a complete list of the museums and sites favorably affected by these special days. See below for a link to the document.

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Piazza della Signoria, Firenze

If you are at all interested in saving and seeing while in Florence, this is the weekend to do so! The link below is the official announcement, in Italian, for the special pricing and hours. The listing is in English and you can find information about hours and pricing.  .

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ENJOY bella Firenze on two very important and special days.

If you would like to learn more about our small group explorations of Italy with four unique and distinct itineraries, please visit us at: www.private-italy.com

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One of the vendors we have worked with for many years, Emilia Delizia, has recently published the following update on how the recent exit of the UK from the EU will effect travelers from the US and the UK in to Europe.

With their permission I am forwarding this information to you in the hopes that you find it of assistance in these changes times.

How Brexit Will Affect Traveling To Italy (for UK and US visitors)

The decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union will undoubtedly have uncertain implications for the British people. The only certainty guaranteed by this so called ‘Brexit’ vote is that things will likely never be the same again for Britain in its relations with EU countries such as Italy. As such British tourists are likely to be the first group of Brits who will experience first hand the uncertain and little known consequences that might materialize as the UK negotiates itself out of the EU. Listed below are examples of some of the uncertain repercussions of the Brexit vote to British tourists who wish to travel to Italy.

Brexit tea

1. Costly Visas

Brexit has meant that, for the Brits at least, the days of the freedom of movement of people throughout Europe looks likely to be a thing of the past. Brits might now be treated as non-EU citizens, meaning that it is highly likely that they will be unable to cross a border-less EU without frequent passport checks. If any British national wishes to travel to Italy, it is probable that they will have to apply for and purchase a visa. This will mean that Brits will be subject to visa restrictions upon the amount of time they are permitted to stay within Italy before renewing their visa at an additional cost.

2. Poor Exchange Rate

As the full economic repercussions of the Brexit vote will not be known for many years to come, global markets have naturally reacted negatively at the level of uncertainty created by such a vote. This has resulted in a general weakening of pound sterling against all other major currencies such as the euro, meaning that British tourists traveling to a country like Italy could potentially have reduced spending power. The knock-on effect of this being that they might have less expendable money to spend over the course of their vacation on things like food and drink, excursions and souvenirs.

3. Expensive Air Travel

The Brexit vote has also created uncertainty about UK access to EU airspace, which could mean that the UK will have no other option than to renegotiate its air space treaties with all 27 EU member states. This could potentially mean that all UK-based air travel companies might have to pay increased fees in exchange for access to EU airspace, which perhaps will inevitably have to be passed onto the customer. This could spell the end of British access to cheap EU air travel, by forcing British tourists (and indeed non-EU tourists who fly from the UK specifically to access cheap EU flights) to pay more money for their flight to Italy from any UK airport.

Having said that we should also consider the possibility of less popular routes being abandoned by cheap no frills airlines due to higher costs, casting a shadow on smaller but crucial airports. Travelers from the U.S. too who often use Ryanair flights to Italy might have fewer choices in the future when it comes to air travel.

4. Increased Roaming Charges

The Brexit vote has also cast serious doubt over the UK’s continued access to cheap EU roaming charges, with many fearing that British telecom companies might have no other option than to charge British tourists higher roaming charges while they holiday in countries like Italy. Such a prospect could also negatively affect many non-EU tourists, such as those from the USA, who often purchase a UK sim card in order to take advantage of cheap EU call charges.

5. High-Cost Healthcare

Although not confirmed by either country, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has technically terminated the right of British citizens to be treated by the Italian Health Service while on holiday. This is still far from being a certainty, but if this is to be the case, then in future British tourists might have to procure and manage their own healthcare while on vacation in Italy. If both the UK and Italian governments are able to sort out a bilateral deal over the provision of healthcare to British tourists, it is likely that such an arrangement will charge British tourists for access to the Italian Health Service. However this is speculative and far from certain.

US travelers emergency treatment in Italy is still based upon US Healthcare coverage as well as International Travelers Insurance voluntarily acquired.

Overall the effects of Brexit on British tourists who wish to travel to Italy will in all likelihood be largely negative in nature. For a start Brits might find that the price of a holiday to Italy will be much higher than when the UK was a member of the EU, largely because of a poor sterling exchange rate with the euro and the fact that many benefits of being a member of the EU, such as visa free travel and access to healthcare, might now come with a costly price tag. In short, Brexit has potentially cost British tourists more money in order to travel to Italy and given them fresh uncertainty over simple things like roaming charges and more substantial issues such as access to the Italian Health Service when injured or ill.

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