Italy, Touring Venice

I’ll start the narrative for Day 2 by clarifying that travel days are tough. Day 1 of the journey actually encompassed two calendar days, one of which we spent on a plane and jumping time zones and the other touring Padua, with very little sleep in between. The rest of the days in my chronicle will be full calendar days, in Italy’s time zone.

The last thing I did each evening was take a picture of the next day’s itineary with my phone. These were posted somewhere in the hotel lobby. Sometimes I had to retake the picture the next morning to get a clear copy. I’m sure that had NOTHING to do with wine consumed the evening before!

A quick warning…I took 297 photos “today”. I’m only going to feature a few of them in the blog. I’ll delete those which need to be deleted and post the rest as a slide show on Flickr with a link at the end of the blog for you to peruse as you wish. If you’ve got a question about any of them, feel free to comment here on the blog and I’ll try to provide clarification.

Our bus driver Allesandro took us to the port of Venice where we boarded a private water taxi. We had several different ones during the day but they all looked similar:

And our tour guide Elisabeth reminded us often to wear comfortable shoes:

The ride from the mainland to the Venetian islands was a bit rough but nobody got sea sick.The perspective from the water was interesting and gave us a feel for how large the area is. If you haven’t spent any time with Google maps, this is an interesting area to explore. Make sure to switch between map and satellite views. We saw everything from cruise ships:

To car ferries, naval special operations ships and merchandise delivery service boats:

Churches, hotels and parks:

Even the garbage gets transported via boat:

Our first stop was at the Ferro-Lazarini glass works on the island of Murano.

Where we saw an artisan make a vase and a horse:

Of course, there was plenty of time to shop! I think Andy suspected I was taking a photo in this showroom:

Since they are afraid someone might copy their designs, photos are discouraged in the showrooms. I don’t think these give away any secrets:

Elisabeth encouraged us to use the (free and clean) rest rooms at the glass factory. While I was waiting for everyone to finish, I found a few interesting architectural photo opportunities:

After Murano, we headed to the main island of Venice for a walking tour along the grand canal and to Piazza San Marcos and the Basilica of St. Mark. Along the way, we passed many hotels and restaurants:

Crossed a few canal bridges:

And learned about the Doge’s palace:

where trials were held with the convicted crossing the “Bridge of Sighs” where it is said that their sighs of desperation were audible as they glimpsed possibly the last daylight of their life out of the two windows on the bridge:

before spending the rest of their life in the very secure prison:

Everyone is told to not feed the flying rats (aka pidgeons). Alas, this instruction is followed about as well as the “no photos” instruction:

There were times I wondered if carrying multiple lenses along was worth it…these shots of statues on top of pillars scream “yes, it was worth it”!

This shot of the bell above Piaza San Marcos also required a long zoom. The mechanical hammer swingers were fun to watch at the top of the hour:

Our “meeting spot” in the piazza was always in front of the Campanile (bell tower) across from the Basilica of St. Mark:

Fortunately the stairs are closed and there is a lift (elevator) to the top for “only” 8 euros (about $10.80) each. The view is well worth the cost of the ride to the top:

But, I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself. The trip up the Campanile was after our tour of St. Mark’s, so let’s look at a few scenes there. The first thing you notice is the marble:

Then, if you can manage to pay attention to where you’re walking, you notice that the ground water is pushing up through the sidewalk in a few places (thank you Ann for lending your reflection to make the puddle more interesting):

If you’re not careful, you risk whiplash from constantly looking up, then down, then up, etc.

Did I mention there’s lots of marble? And arches?

The arches above the basilica doors are quite ornate:

And the arches inside are even moreso:

This church was confusing… there were some signs that said “NO FLASH PHOTOS”. There were some signs that said “NO PHOTOS”. Yet about 1/3 of the people touring were taking photos, many with flash. So, I took photos too.

The water is pushing up into parts of the church too, so they build little bridges for tourists to follow and keep our feet dry.

At every church we visited, we spent some time in prayer for friends and family, lighting a candle where permissible (churches with fresco paintings don’t allow candles in an attempt to help preserve the paintings).

After our tour of St. Mark’s, it was time to follow the #1 recommendation for visiting Venice: get lost. We walked down many streets that looked like this one:

And saw many canals that looked like this one:

We stopped for lunch at Osteria Leon Bianco and found a seat in the courtyard. I enjoyed a pasta w/ meat sauce dish and Teresa enjoyed a lasagna dish which she raved about for the remainder of the trip.

After lunch, we walked some more, and got un-lost in time for a 3:00pm rendezvous with friends for a gondola ride. Believe me, there’s nothing romantic about cramming 6 people into a gondola…but the price of 120 euros (about $162) for a 35-40 minute ride was best shared, so 30 of us took the ride in 5 gondolas:

And got to see Venice from a different perspective

I wonder what the description was when they applied for that building permit? After the gondola ride, it was time to get lost again. We found stores selling masks for Carnival

And stores selling Ferrari “gear”

I checked out a sharp black shirt sporting the logo for Matt … 58 euros ($78) sorry Matt, it stayed on the shelf. We found a piaza (square) well off the beaten path where a few cute little kids were having a blast with the public fountain.

It was time to find our way back to Piazza San Marco for 6:45 mass in the Basilica of St. Mark. Fortunately I had a good guide:

Who soon had us back in front of the Campanile

We were prepared to sing the mass parts in Latin, but they were spoken (in Italian). We were prepared to sing several selections from our concert plus a 4-part “Holy” for the opening. Unfortunately, the church organ was broken. Our most capable director Laurie Polkus exhibited her skills in flexibility and we sang opening, communion and closing songs acapela.

After mass it was time to get lost for another hour or so.

We found some yummy gelato (Italian ice cream) and wound up enjoying a bottle of wine listening to 3 or 4 orchestras who took turns playing in Piazza San Marco before meeting our tour group for the boat and bus ride back to our hotel.

To see all of today’s photos, visit the Flickr slide show.

8 thoughts on “Italy, Touring Venice

  1. The most amazing thing about Venice is that with it’s long history involving many cultures – so many buildings have multiple styles of architecture. And it was so appropriate in such an environment to be hearing so many languages being spoken throughout the city!

    1. Kelly, we concur and wholeheartedly endorse the #1 ranking on the “Top 10 Things to do in Venice” list. Would be fun to enjoy the sights and the wine with you and Dave!

  2. Steve, I’m so glad that you were a faithful photographer and journalist. Venice was, indeed, awesome. Even after 26 hrs. of no sleep, walking through Venice was a terrific experience – the art, history, architecture, people…all made this city memorable.
    I’m going to through out a question that a number of our fellow pilgrims answered in he affirmative – Did anyone else feel like the terrain was shifting beneath their feet? It was a sensation not unlike being on shipboard. Could have been from the long flight and fatigue or, perhaps, Venice really is moving around!

  3. Clare,

    26 hours of no sleep? Fortunately I did not suffer from that pain. I had no problem sleeping on the plane and napping on the bus!

    Funny you should mention sea legs… As you may have seen in another recent posting of mine here, I spent last weekend with my scouts, “camping” on the USS Cobia submarine. On Sunday morning I was standing with one of the scouts near the gangplank to shore when I noticed that the sub was rocking such that the gangplank, which had wheels on the end, was shifting about a foot back and forth on the deck. I had no sense of the motion, even after I saw how much the ship was moving. I did not experience a sense of motion in Venice either, except when we were on a water taxi or gondola.

Leave a Reply