Monday, January 30, 2017

Italy Day 12--Venice's winding alleys, bridges, and canals

Hello everyone!  So it is our full Venice day.  I really like Venice, it is so picturesque with both canals and medieval charm.  We started out leaving our stuff in our room at the swanky hotel all packed (since we didn't have to check out until 12) and went back to San Marco square to see St. Mark's Basilica.  I had made advanced reservations for 9:45, and boy was I glad I did!  There was a long line already and it was nice walking right by.  

(of course, half of it would be under scaffolding)

The church was actually not one of my favorites, it was pretty and had gorgeous mosaics (and lots of gold leaf), but it was rather dark.

We did get to pay extra to go out onto the Loggia, and look down on St. Mark's square, which was pretty cool.

We also saw the Four Horses of St. Marks (these are actually replicas, the originals we saw in the church museum in the upper levels we toured right before heading out onto the loggia).  These Roman horses were brought back after the fourth Crusade as spoils from Constantinople, and were placed on top of the church.  After a brief stint away via Napoleon, the horses returned, and here they are to stay.

From the loggia, we could also get a closer look at the mosaics outside the church.

Next we went back to swanky hotel to check out (sigh) and trudged with our bags through hoards of tourists

(Like this one)

to get to hotel number 2, Hotel Al Gazzettino.  This hotel had a good location--halfway between San Marco and Rialto Bridge.

By this point it was a bit before 12, but there was no one at the desk.  We stayed in a boutique hotel with no one on duty all the time at the desk, including at night.  After ringing twice someone let us in, but even after that we waited awhile for someone to come down to tell us we couldn't check in until 2.  They did let us leave our bags in the lobby, and we headed out, and were waylaid almost immediately by someone trying to get us to check out his restaurant.  It was actually pretty cute inside and felt like an authentic (and less touristy) restaurant so we stayed since we were hungry by this point.  We found out later it was actually the restaurant associated with our hotel.

I ordered a fish soup--when it came out it was a huge bowl covered with essentially thin pizza bread.  Once I broke it open, the soup was full of seafood, including shells.  These were easy to take the meat out of, and it was  really good.  The soup was full of all different seafoods, including calamari, squids, clams, crab, maybe a

 We were also given free shots, which we enjoyed and he asked if we wanted Bellinis, so we ended up with those as well (although we paid for them).  We also got dessert (I got a nutella cake homemade by the owner's wife, which was delicious) so both of us had a good time.

At this point we started our amble through the backstreets of Venice, which I found to be really fun.  My Rick Steve's map didn't have all the streets listed, and not all streets even had names written on them, but we managed to navigate through!

On our walk up to Rialto bridge, one of the famous bridges in Venice, we passed a church nearish to our hotel (as I wrote this entry the bells have already chimed once and it was pretty loud), and went inside for a quick look (This was San Salvador).

From here we continued the walk to the Rialto bridge, but it was unfortunately covered in scaffolding, so it was a bit of a let down.

(shops on the Rialto bridge)

But there were still gorgeous views up the Grand Canal.

From here I led us to our next stop, the Frari church, using campos (small squares) and churches to navigate along the way.  The streets are very narrow and the buildings high and there aren't great signs--as I sad, a labyrinth.

The Frari church is one of the few remaining Venetian gothic churches.

From here we went into the Scuola San Rocco and its associated church (which was pretty, but not as impressive as the bigger Frari that was right next door).

The Scoula is a huge meeting hall with intricate wood carvings and a huge ceiling painting depicting scenes from the old testament, and huge paintings along the walls depicting the new testament.  It was painted by a famous Italian painter, Tintoretto in the 1500s.

Next we started the second part our of journey, this time to Ca'rezzonico, a palace furnished as it would have been in the 1700s.   I got us pretty close, but I couldn't actually get us to the palace itself (a combo of no street names on my map and on the narrow alleyways).  Katherine put it in her phone and we were only 2 minutes away, which I counted as almost successful on my part.

The Ca'rezzonico was really interesting, with rooms showing the decadence of 18th century Venice with the carnival, while also having a chapel in the upstairs.  I enjoyed seeing the rooms furnished and pretty dishes.

(beautiful venetian glass chandelier)

(quintessential carnival hedonism)

(and here is that upstairs chapel I mentioned so family members could pray after all that hedonism)

Back down to the ground level and out towards the dock on the Grand Canal,

this is the palace's true front façade and front door as guests would have arrived by boat.

(maybe one like this antique gondola)

At this point we started the third leg of our journey.  We had been debating whether the try and take a boat back up to our hotel area, but Katherine was okay walking, so we finished the big loop we had been making.  This time I successfully navigated us all the way back to the hotel without Katherine needing her phone at all.  I used campos and churches as our guides, and we kept looking for the next landmark and made it back.

 We stopped in one last church, San Stefano, along the way to sit and rest for a bit (Katherine hadn't wanted to leave her computer, so she had been lugging it with her during our adventures).

Just a bit more walking,

and we were back to the hotel by 6, and checked in, which including us lugging our bags up 3 flights of stairs--not fun, especially since the rooms have high ceilings.  We were given keys not only for our room but for the hotel front door as well.

We hung out here until about 8 (the local dinner time), when we headed out to find a restaurant we saw yesterday and thought was cool.  I ordered the menu of the day, which was a great deal since it was like 2 dinners in one (the Italians serve big portions), but more food then I needed.

We then just headed back to the hotel, stopping for a bit to listen to music on St. Mark's square again.  

1 comment:

  1. Sigh. Venice is pretty.

    • You got some secret St. Mark's Basilica photos! I was too nervous to try for it because my camera is so stupidly loud even on "quiet mode." But if/when I go back I am definitely grabbing some illegal phone pics. I absolutely LOVED the inside, but I am obsessed with byzantine mosaics, so...
    • When I see your photos of the Piazza San Marco from the loggia, all I can think of is how blissfully empty it looks as compared to when we actually had to navigate through with our luggage only a few short hours later. :(.
    • That little restaurant where we ate lunch was one of my favorites from the entire trip! Didn't we eat get dinner here one night, too? (I'm sure you'll cover this later, but I'm stream-of-consciousness commenting here, LOL). Anyway, thanks to your photo I can clearly see that I ordered caprese salad, so I don't have to leave my standard "I wonder what I ate" comment this time. Yay!
    • It was nice/v. smart of him to offer us free shots before asking if we wanted to order more food, LOL.
    • I forgot that the Rialto Bridge was completely covered in scaffolding. This means you have to go back someday to see the real thing. ;).
    • I love Photo No. 36! It really conveys how narrow and twisty the back streets are.
    • The Basilica dei Frari is probably my favorite church in Venice (okay...maybe tied with St. Mark's, because I can't choose between gothic architecture and byzantine mosaics).
    • You definitely were successful with the navigation-by-Rick-Steves-map-only! As you know, I never had the slightest idea of where we were at literally any moment in time.
    • I could look at photos of random little canals forever.
    • I wish I'd taken more photos at Ca' Rezzonico. I think I have a picture of the entrance hall and that's it.
    • Also I wish my bed was inside a fancy bed nook like in Photo No. 90. Gonna include that as a mandatory design feature if I ever buy a house.
    • Photo Nos. 101-102 are *heart eyes emojis*
    • Ugh, lugging my giant suitcase up those tiny stairs was awful. I feel like at one point the front desk girl, who was TINY, just took my bag from me and carried it the rest of the way.
    • That hotel room looks extra-miniscule after the room at the Danieli, haha. And the bed, LOL.


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