Anne & Kirk Woodyard – Music and Markets Tours
If ever a city deserved the title of “an outdoor museum” , it’s Venice! Where else can you float by glorious facades or stroll through squares bordered by exquisite architecture, perhaps while sipping the city’s signature drink, an Aperol Spritz?Yes, there’s much to be seen at eye level, but as in all impressive cities, one must also look up, up and up! And when you do in Venice, you’ll no doubt notice those wooden rooftop structures sprouting up from one building after another. What are they? They’re Venice’s particular and peculiar outdoor spaces, the Altanas.The name comes from the Italian word for high – alto. An escape from the dense and crowded city below, they date back to the 12th century. A city filled with canals and tall buildings doesn’t leave much room for a courtyard or garden, so why not add an outdoor space on the roof?!? The stout wooden or stone pillars attached to the roof support a platform of wooden planks, allowing the passage of light and air for a bright and inviting space to sunbathe, enjoy the coolness of the evening, or gather for a meal or a chat. One of the prettiest I’ve seen, draped in gauzy fabric and adorned with flowers, was on the colorful island of Burano.During the time of the Venetian Republic (697-1797) blonde or red hair was very popular and women used to bleach their hair while sitting on the Altane, using a dye called Bionda (blonde) or Acqua di Gioventù (Water of Life). Covering their shoulders with a white silk scarf, and placing a Solana – a straw hat with a hole in the center – they protected lily-white skin from a dreaded tan, and pulled their hair through the hole in the hat, then combed a complicated concoction through the hair and spread it out to dry and bleach on the Solana.
Still popular today, with spectacular views over the city and water, an Altana is a coveted addition to any home. Since the entire city is a protected Unesco World Heritage Site, an Altana can not be added unless it can be proved that one existed in the past, involving a search in the land registry, or even perusing canvases of the great landscape painters such as Canaletto and Guardi.
We enjoyed a breezy afternoon on one of the Altanas of Hotel Paganelli, perched above the Riva Schiavoni with a fabulous view of the Bacino, and San Giorgio Maggiore.Looks like this family has added a pizza oven to their perch!A couple of striped-shirt gondoliers taking a break, perhaps?How to enjoy an Altana for yourself? Book a room at Hotel Paganelli – ours featured that same fabulous view as from the Altana, or book an Airbnb with a rooftop perch – it’s such a valuable feature that it is highlighted in the description of any property lucky enough to have one. We’re always sure to point them out, and access one when possible, on our custom-designed private Venice tours!And keep looking up – those interesting details are sometimes high above our heads!
|The best way to describe us (Kirk and Anne Woodyard) is that we’re interested in the stories that make the places we visit come alive.|
We’ve visited Europe more times than we can count, learned some entertaining stories there, and met some warm and helpful people who also enjoy the wonders of music and life in Europe. We look forward to sharing these stories and friends and experiences with our Music and Markets guests.
Since 2003 we’ve hosted Music and Markets tours in France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, England and Spain, and in 2019 added Wonder Tours with a more intentional concentration on art and architecture, local culture, food and wine, and less time dedicated to concert-going.We also design and host custom private tours – previous locations include many French, Spanish, British and Italian regions.
Between our music-related travels, we enjoy our home in the south of France. While both of us have experience in organizing travel and music groups, Kirk’s background is in project management and competitive writing, and Anne is an accomplished pianist with over forty years of teaching and performance experience.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.