Venice – The Floating City

We arrived in Venice early Monday afternoon and after taking and posting a couple of pictures of the Grand Canal from the train station, we made our way to our Air BNB. We walked along the canals and over bridges and though it seemed a little confusing at first, Google Maps led us to the right place. We dropped our bags, freshened up and headed out.

It was quite foggy all day so the streets and canals had a bit of a spooky atmosphere – especially after dark. Richard kept mentioning that it would be a great place for a horror movie which did little to stop my heart from racing just a bit faster than normal. We ended up in St. Mark’s Square – almost by accident – but could barely make out the Basilica or the Bell Tower due to the fog. We wandered through the square and along the waterfront before deciding that we should probably head home and find a grocery store. Now that was a bit of an adventure. As I mentioned, the canals, streets and bridges are somewhat confusing and then of course there are the piazzas. Some have many exits and it can be a challenge trying to find the right one. We persevered, found a grocery store, got ourselves some snacks and made it home before Jack the Ripper jumped out from the fog.

Today, we headed back to the train station and headed in the opposite direction from yesterday. Our first surprise was the beautiful Church of Saint Mary of Nazareth. This is a smaller church than what we have seen in Italy and both Richard and I agreed that it had a certain welcoming feeling that some of the others did not. We continued on our way following the Grand Canal as best we could, detouring through piazzas and shopping areas. It seems that all roads (or in this case canals and bridges) lead to St. Mark’s because again, this is where we found ourselves at midday. It was not nearly as foggy so we were able to see the grandeur of the church, the bell tower and the Duke’s Palace. After finishing our lunch along the waterfront, we entered St. Mark’s Basilica. It is very large and impressive with historic mosaics lining the floors and walls. We worked our way through the church and then headed up the stairs to the museum where original mosaics and tapestries dating back to 900 AD are housed. From here we were able to walk out onto the mezzanine overlooking the Square and the waterfront. The four large horses that share this mezzanine with the tourists and the pigeons are copies of the original bronze horses, liberated from Constantinople in the early 12th century,  and are now kept inside. Both the copies and the originals are quite impressive.

Back in the square, we watched the crowds flock around people in costumes. We have again been lucky enough to stumble upon a festival – in this case, The Carnival of Venice. It started with a parade last Saturday (which we just missed) and continues until the beginning of Lent. There are a number of balls (which we will also miss) but is it best known for its elaborate costumes and masks. Many people dress in costumes and walk around the square waiting for others to take pictures of them or with them. All the outdoor vendors and many of the permanent shops are selling the masks and Richard and I have been searching for just the perfect ones in which to walk around the city like many of the other tourists. So far, the ideal items have yet to be found.

We continued along the waterfront, found another large bridge across the canal and made our way back to the Santa Maria della Salute that can actually be seen from St. Mark’s. Built in 1630 after the plague had claimed 140,000 lives, it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who for many reasons was thought to be a protector of the Republic.  The Salute, as it is commonly called, is a vast, octagonal building with two domes and a pair of picturesque bell-towers at the back built on a platform made of 1,000,000 wooden piles. The church inside is indeed round with the main chapel being across from the main entrance. Organ music was playing when we entered so we sat to listen and rest our feet for a few minutes. 

After that brief respite, we were ready to go again and continued along the Guidecca Canal, all the way around to the train station where we started this morning. Almost ten miles today with one day left. If it is not too foggy tomorrow, we hope to get on the water, either on a gondola or a water bus. That should be fun!!

The view from San Marcos (St. Marks).

The music accompanying today’s slide show is from Vivaldi who is Venice’s most famous composer.  The last picture in the presentation is of Col posing in front of a monument dedicated to him.