Masks. Water: lots of water. Canals. Bridges. Mazes. Gondolas. Murano glass. A Palace adjacent to a Basilica. This is Venice, Italy! What a memorable, fabulous city. We visited from November 30 to December 4, 2009. It was a perfect time to be in Venice, as it was sunny, cool enough for a light jacket, decorated for Christmas, but not jammed with the throngs of tourists that we had read about. Best of all, during the off- off- season, we stayed in a lovely hotel just behind St. Mark’s Basilica for $70 per night! When I checked the rates online for the same hotel for the following July, it was $450! We really lucked out with the prices and the weather.
Venice is a maze of walkways and bridges. We had found a lovely internet cafe (necessary back then) with delicious espresso and decided we would return the following day to check our email. We knew where it was…just off of St. Mark’s Square, down an alleyway, across two canals, and take a right…the cafe was midway down, amidst a bunch of shops. Except….it wasn’t. We tracked back, tried again…nope. So we started wandering aimlessly, not knowing where we were, and yep, you guessed it – it appeared right in front of us. That’s how Venice is. You learn to buy something the first time you see what you like, as you may never find the shop again!
The first photos are of Venice’s mask business, of course. It seemed a colorful way to start. They are followed by various scenes around Venice, on the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace, and St. Mark’s Basilica, complete with its famous horses outside on the roof. After the horses are photos from our day trip to the island of Murano, two miles by water taxi, and world famous for its unique glass work. If you have ever been in the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the flowered glass ceiling is all Murano glass. We went to a glass factory for a demonstration, of course, then wandered around the island, known for its colorful houses. As you can see, though, even in a tourist spot with its beautiful colors, there always seems to be laundry hanging out to dry!
Something we had never considered: Venice is all about walking, as there are no streets and no vehicles. We saw many people on the water taxis and on the walkways pulling carts behind them filled with one or two bags of groceries. They can’t shop all at once for groceries to last a week or two, as we can with a car, as that amount cannot be easily carried. So, almost every day, they must buy only what they can easily convey. It is a difficult life, in that regard.
It did rain the last day or two we were there, and while we were on Murano. You can see one thing they do in the next to last photo: install wooden barricades on the bottom of their doors to keep out the water! In St. Mark’s Square, they put out wooden walkways to walk on above the flooded square, about 2 feet off the ground. We don’t seem to have gotten a photo of them, but had to use them the morning we left. Water spilling into everyday life seems to always be on their mind. But…what a city! Che bella!