Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Venice Venezia

Early morning we left La Spezia and the train slowly made its way through a series of tunnels and mountain passes before we arrived at the flatlands of Emilia-Romagne. The day was overcast but luckily no rain. The passage through the mountains was slow going on the Inter regionale train, but once we got to Fornovo, the train sped up and the trip to Bologna via Parma and Modena went quickly. After a light, stand-up lunch on Bologna station we boarded the Eurostar train for Venice. We only planned for a day and a half in Venice based on research of many people that traveled there before who felt 2 days was enough for Venice. In hindsight I should have planned for another day or so.

Arriving at Venice we sat on the steps outside of the station just to get our bearings and enjoyed a cigarette. A vaporetto (water bus) took us to the Rialto Bridge where a person met us and took us to our apartment. We would never have gotten there using a map for we walked along far too many alleys and had to make far too many lefts and rights. Venice, occupying 117 islands in the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea is a massive watery maze of grand canals, 177 smaller canals, and over 400 bridges. Maps aren’t very useful here. I tried to use my map a few times, but because there are no beacons to use (we would quickly learn to create our own beacons by remembering little squares and shops) and because there are so many narrow alleys and really no straight streets or calle, one really just walked and followed the few signs to famous places or general beacons. Venice is walkable but it is a mesmerizing experience.
After we dropped our luggage at the apartment, Monica and I walked to San Marco Square and then just all along the lagoon, pass the Doge Palace, hundreds of shops until our feet were sore. Heading home we got terribly lost, but eventually found our apartment after walking in circles for 30 minutes. I am sure we passed near it several times, but just couldn’t find the little narrow passage that led to the apartment. But not discouraged by getting lost in the afternoon, we attempted the maze again for dinner was at a ristorante on the Grand Canal and in full view of the Rialto Bridge. On the return journey we found our home easily.
A view of Venice from the canal.

San Marco's Basilica. Most impressive! Can't wait to see the inside tomorrow.

The Doge Palace on San Marco Piazza. The Byzantine influence is very strong in Venice and can be seen in many of its buildings.

The campanile of San Marco's Basilica.
A gondolier waiting for customers. Riding the gondola is the most expensive form of traveling in Venice, usually reserved for tourists and Venetians when they get married.

The Grand Canal at sunset from the Rialto Bridge. Our apartment was only a 5 minute walk from the famous bridge.

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