We had a leisurely breakfast in the outdoor patio under brilliant sunshine after a night of lightning and rainshowers. The weather in Venezia is awesome, free of any haze.
The host at Locanda Marinella, took a few minutes to provide us with a map of Venezia and described a potential path for us to walk given that we had only one day to see this wonderful city. He described each of the sections of the city with the passion of someone who has either grown up in Venezia or come to love it. Our hotel was near the parking garages across the Grand Canal from the train station.
So he suggested we head south through the University district to the area known as Zattere. This would be a good spot to have dinner as it is close to the water but too hot to stroll in the early/mid day sun. From there we crossed the Accademia Bridge as we twisted and turned through narrow “streets” and across multiple bridges working our way towards the Piazzo St. Marco (St. Mark’s Square).
Venezia is clearly a destination for people from all over the world as you can hear many languages being spoken everywhere. Ironically, we find ourselves saying Merci and Danke to people from North America. Occasionally we actually get out a Grazie. We toured through St. Mark’s Basilica to see the intricate inlaid tiles, even on the ceiling, giving it a golden glitter.
It was interesting to notice the undulations in the floor of the basilica, possibly due to the settling of the ground in the lagoon that Venezia is built on. In other places you can feel where the different colours of marble are uneven as a result of them wearing at different rates over time. Once again we are not permitted to take pictures, like so many places in Europe. The rights to these sites have been sold for books and DVD’s so the public is not permitted to take pictures, lest they produce their own Guide book.
The Campanile provided and excellent view of the city and the Grand Canal snaking through the city.
Deana was disappointed that we could see more of the smaller canals. However, the buildings are so close together and the streets and canals twist and turn so much that you can rarely see more than a few hundred feet without being obstructed by another building, except on the Grand Canal.
We then spent several hours just wandering the streets, looking in just a few of the thousands of shops and observing the gaggle of tourists taking pictures of and on the Rialto Bridge. Jessica managed to find a beautiful mask from Carnival, the 20 day event that takes place in Jan/Feb.
We located a fine spot along the Canale della Giudecca for dinner and watched as a P&O line cruiseship was guided back out to the Baltic Sea.
After dinner we wandered back to the Grand Canal and hired a Gondolier to take us for a 40 minute ride past the homes of Marco Polo and Casanova and also a couple of the facilities where gondolas are hand built.
The gondola factories employ a team of 5-6 men will turn out about 10 gondolas each year from one of these operations and depending on the ornateness of the gondola it can cost between 30-40 thousand Euro for a new gondola. Our gondolier, Michael, spent 3 years learning how to be a gondolier and now owns his own boat. It was a wonderful ride as we glided down quiet canals where people’s homes are so close to the waterway that we could hear them chatting over dinner.
We finished off the evening with a trip on the public transportation back to our hotel. This was an experience of its own as scores of people squeezed onto the boat, like a subway at rush hour. Jammed in together we met a few fellow tourists. Andrew started to chat with a girl from somewhere near Los Angeles. During the coarse of their conversation he pointed out his sister and that her name was Jessica. To this the girl responded in an authentic and frightenly stereotypical voice “OMG My name’s Jessica too . . . What are the chances!” It was one of those moments that you can’t laugh at at that moment, but get a great chuckle from afterwards.
All in all a very enjoyable day and we gave Venezia a “definitely Visit again” rating.