Live Music and Food in Venice: feed your body and soul
The stomach is the music teacher who stops and spurs the great orchestra of great passions; an empty stomach plays the bundle of malice and the flute of envy; a full stomach beats the sistrum of pleasure and the drum of joy. by Gioachino Rossini.
And here in Venice I had the pleasure of feeding both my body and soul with delightful food, great wine and amazing music, all at the same time, in the most stunning setting: a 16th century palace right in the middle of the Historic center of Venice.
I had the opportunity to participate to a Jazz concert and a Classical Music concert, on two separate nights, at Palazzo Marin, just off Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, thanks to Venice Music Gourmet, a new musical association, which decided to combine music and food in an original location, for the pleasure of both gourmets and music lovers.
Music in Venice
Music occupied already an important role in every day life in ancient times: it was played in churches, palaces and during special celebrations.
The importance of Venetian musical history is also measured by the precocity that Venice displayed in the field of printed music editions.
Important collections of vast dimensions testify, once again, the role in the European musical culture played by the Serenissima. Songs, tall tales, laude and much more make up a large and articulate repertoire of musical works.
At the end of the sixteenth century the violin family, then at the dawn of its history, had a sudden and peremptory statement in Venice and throughout the Serenissima Republic. From that moment on a long series of musical masterpieces were created, up to the works of the great composers of the Baroque.
In the eighteenth century the arts of painting, drama and music acquired a real proper Venetian style, which was also exported to Europe. It was so fashionable to make Venice one of the milestones of the so-called Grand Tour.
And in Venice one of the most fashionable things to do was to attend private small music venues in the various cultural salons held by the most important noble people in their stunning palaces in Venice.
Now you can feel just like an 18th century visitor of Venice and you too can experience the city just like the most famous poets and writers of the Renaissance did.
You can attend a small musical venue, taste some wonderful Venetian food and wine in the setting of an authentic 16th century palace.
The location: Palazzo Marin
Between Santa Maria del Giglio and the Gran Teatro La Fenice, you can spot Palazzo Marin.
This palace, thanks to the sensitivity of a dynasty of Venetian hoteliers, who understood the importance of making investments that qualify not only the structural heritage, but also the investors themselves, is today, as it was yesterday, a real cultural salon.
Situated right behind the beautiful Tessiture Bevilacqua, just off Campo Santa Maria Del Giglio, Palazzo Marin is a palace of the sixteenth century, which offers extraordinary surprises inside: three frescoed halls and the perfect acoustics, witness to one of the most important eras in Venetian and European history, the end of ‘700, linked to the main exponents of the enlightenment, among which Rousseau, Antonio Canova, Walter Scott, Lord Byron, J. W. Goethe.
The Napoleonic land register and the coat of arms carved on the well of the inner courtyard of the building (a wave that should be blue on silver leaf) certainly testify that the Palazzo belonged to the Marin family, which, since 1760, has been responsible for the restoration and remodelling of the interior decoration.
Survivors to the various changes, which took place over the years, we can still find the eighteenth-century frescoes of the main hall. This stunning room is decorated with mythological scenes by Gaetano Zampini (The Rape of Elena, Elena’s escape from Troy, Apollo and the Muses, Theseus and Ariadne).
Also on the main floor, in the large room overlooking the canal which leads to the Fenice Theater, we find another beautiful fresco, an allegorical representation on the ceiling: the Virtue crowns the Merit by Giovanni Scarajo.
It has not been easy to retrace the story of this building, because it has a history of successions, which are all the more intricate and curious.
Among the various stories and legends, it is said that the palace hosted the early Venetian years of the famous Countess Isabella Theotokos from Corfu, who first married Carlo Antonio Marin, and then Giuseppe Albrizzi.
She was also intimate with Antonio Canova, to whom she dedicated the famous biography of his sculptures.
Isabella Theotokos was compared to Madame de Stael.
She turned the Palazzo Marin into a well-known and appreciated cultural salon of her time, attended by the likes of the greatest writers, poets and artists of her time including EV Rieu, Vincenzo Monti, Sir William Hamilton, Mme de Stael and the Venetian nobles Querini, Pesaro, Tron and Dalazzo Marin Dolfin.
Experience Venice in a different way
Thanks to Venice Music Gourmet, I had the opportunity to participate to a wonderful new way of experiencing both Classical and Jazz music in Venice.
The first night I was invited to attend a Jazz concert, played by a wonderful trio of musicians: Marco Ponchiroli,piano and arrangements, Francesca Viaro, singer and Alvise Seggi, bass.
She is a true lover of music, art and food, so she was the perfect partner in crime to bring along!
As we walked into the gardens of Palazzo Marin, we were greeted by a beautiful scene: a garden full of flowers with a perfectly preserved vera da pozzo (the name of Venetian wells) and a lovely staircase all lit up by candles. The stage for a lovely evening of music and food was all set!
We were guided by Francesca Callegari, of Venice Music Gourmet, to see the alternative entrance to Palazzo Marin, called the water entrance, meaning the access by the canal, which can be easily reached by water taxi.
The entrance is located in a small little calle overlooking the back of Teatro La Fenice.
Francesca lead us then upstairs where we were left literally with our chins dropping by the beauty of the Palazzo but also by the total sense of coziness and warmth which the rooms emanate.
Even though the spaces are huge, as typically all rooms are in the large Palaces of Venice, it was immediately obvious that this palace is not a museum, but a home, a place which is truly lived in.
The mixed furniture, both contemporary and classical, puts you immediately at ease and you feel like you are visiting a friend for a private party!
The venue was for a small number of people and I believe the maximum numbers are in any case around 50/70 people, which for a concert is very good.
On arrival we were immediately offered a glass of very good Prosecco and within few minutes a large display of typical Venetian and Italian food was set on the large tables. The dinner was set as a buffet, which is, in my personal opinion, a great way to start this musical evening. A sit down meal would have been way to long and also would have made everyone sleepy!
The buffet lasted around an hour or more, then we got to take a perfect spot in the main hall, sitting in a comfy sofa, right by the musicians, just like the ladies of the 18th century would have done (maybe sitting a bit more graciously than the way I was sitting).
It felt like I was on my sofa at home and some friends had been playing just for me! All I needed was a Pajamas and some sleepers, and I would have been set for the night!
This amazing trio of Jazz musicians, a pianist, a contrabass and a singer, performed a series of wonderful Jazz songs by a mixture of Italian and American artists.
They are all great musicians, with great talent and very professional. The singer has an amazing voice!
I so wanted to start singing along with her and take a few steps to the lovely beat!!!
I particularly loved the chitchat and exchange of conversation and how they all engaged with the audience, all in perfect English! Again, I felt like I was at a party with friends!
It was one of the best evenings of my life!
Then the following night I got to attend to a Classical Music Concert, by Orchestra Antonio Vivaldi di Venezia.
This time I was joined by my youngest son, who is a lover of classical music.
His impression of the Palazzo was the same as mine the first time I got there: grand!
And he had the same feeling of going to a private party with friends. He loved the food, particularly the lasagne and the Tiramisu’!
After a very interesting conversation with the other guests of the event, we got to sit down for the concert – in the same spot of course – forgot my PJs and my sleepers, unfortunately!
The program of the evening was a mixture of works by Vivaldi, Corelli, Tartini and De Sarasate.
The Orchestra Antonio Vivaldi di Venezia is composed by the best musicians of the prestigious Venetian School, including the violinists Carlo Lazari, Glauco Bertagnin, David Mazzacan and Enzo Ligresti.
They are all soloists and winners of various international awards. All the musicians come from the famous Solisti Veneti, Teatro la Fenice, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Virtuosi Italiani e Solisti Italiani.
As I was lingering on the comfortable sofa, lulled by the wonderful notes of Vivaldi’s music, I literally got entranced in looking at the frescos on the ceiling and wandered who sat on the same spot as I was in and what they were thinking when they were listening to the same music as I was!
The quality of the performance by Orchestra Antonio Vivaldi di Venezia was incredible: poignant, lively, joyful and heartbreaking feelings, all at once!
At the end of the concert, at the end of their performance of the Carmen Fantasy, I just wanted to stand up and dance and I am sure I saw some puffs of smoke from the solo violinist hands from how fast he was playing!!! 😉
I truly believed that is the way the people of 18th century Venice must have felt when they attended this sort of event, in such an incredible setting.
You get to feel each cord of the stringed instrument passing through your body!
And this is what I believe Venice Music Gourmet wants you to experience: a step back in the past, enjoying for a moment time standing still!
Who is Venice Music Gourmet.
Venice Music Gourmet is a cultural association, which has decided to combine the wonderful gastronomic and wine offer available in Venice with the musical tradition of the city of water.
Let’s Francesca Callegari of VMG explain herself how the group was born and what their aim is!
The concept of VMG was born at least a couple of years ago, from a kind of romantic idea to recreate a Venetian cultural salon of times gone by.
Maybe our passion for history, for art and antiques has been the spark, but every time we build an event you have first of all to ask yourself: what do I like? What should I do?
We realised, as Venetians, that it was difficult even for us to enter the Venetian palaces, those magnificent buildings all loaded with history. And we would have really loved to live some experiences with a vaguely ancient flavour albeit accepting to be still in the XXI century.
As musicians, we also have pleasure to present and export the great composers of the past that in recent years have become a commercial product, just like pizza and past.
For this reason it was important for us to bring back the music to the places in which it was composed, trying to rebuild a public who appreciate the subtle nuances.
The concerts of Vivaldi, Galoppi, Tartini, Bach … they animate many concert halls … but in the past they were not composed for such large and “distant” audiences, chamber music (as the word says) was born in the houses of the patricians living in Venice and we want to bring it back where it was born.
Those taking part to one of our events will be readily aware of how the acoustics of the room perfectly adapt to this type of baroque compositions.
To this, we have added the element of the dinner, to complete the event in respect of the tradition of the Venetian lounges and the fact that, when we usually participate to concerts, we realise that if the shows are on average between 7.30 and 8.30, it is quite difficult to dine before or after the concert. It was not easy to find the right location, but when we met Rossella Serafini and her mother Franca we no longer had any doubts: not only they were the owners of a magnificent palace, but we fully shared the concept of this event, the musical relationship with the past but also with the contemporary. We would like for the citizens themselves to participate to our events, not just the visitors of Venice, since our event aims not to be a product for tourists, but an experience through which to take some time off, aloof from everyday life, and to enrich through art.
In addition the VMG musicians are a fundamental part of the project: they don’t just perform but they participate strongly all stages of production, suggesting songs and working together for a perfect execution.
They are the first themselves to get together and have fun!
You too can attend to one of this wonderful events!
You can book online by visiting the site www.venicemusicgourmet.it.
As of today, they run concerts and dinners every Thursday and Friday at 19.00 in Palazzo Marin.
On Thursdays there is a Jazz Concert, on Fridays you can partecipate to a Classical Gala Vivaldi Music Concert.
The dates are confirmed till the end of June 2017, VMG is working on organising other special and unique events, so stay tuned!