Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Venezia (Venice)

For Christmas/Anniversary we got to go to Venice during the first week in February. Ae arrived in the pouring rain and spent about 15 minutes or so dodging puddles and rising water before reaching our hotel. We stayed at the Hotel Ai di Mori d'Oriente. It definitely lived up to its 4 star rating, the room was very nice, and the breakfast was delicious, and the staff very accommodating with information and directions. We began our first day, but purchasing vaporetto tickets so that we could hop on the waterbus if we got tired of walking. Then we headed toward the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco where there are many museums and landmarks located. Venice is a unique city with a fascinating history. It was an independent state, with many trade agreements for goods from all over the world at that time, up until Napoleon at which point the government simply fled. Their head of government was the Doge. His office progressed until he was simply a figurehead of Venice. Our first museum was of ancient columns from early roman times. Then we exited into the courtyard of the Doge's Palace and government buildings. We had to check our back packs before entering the palace and climb the Golden staircase to go through the rooms of the palace and government. The rooms were lavish and decorated by famous painters including: Titan, Tintoretto, and other artists influenced by Bellini. The walls and ceilings were covered. There were also grand fireplaces, and beautiful Murano glass chandeliers as well as period furniture. We spent several hours wandering through the palace before going off to find something to eat. We also went back the next day for the "secret" tour through separate palace of justice rooms and even the prison cell where Cassanova was held.
In the evening we rode several different vaporetti until we finally got back near our hotel. The next day we went through the museum and out on the balcony of St. Marks Balsilica. The view from the balcony was incredible, you would see out over the entire piazza. (I had a lip gloss fall out of my pocket and roll into one of the gutters. I was afraid it had fallen off the balcony and hit someone. Shawn saw and rescued it for me.) Anyway, we also went through several museums on the other side of the Piazza. One display had 16th century Venitian high heels. What can I say, I like shoes. There was even a mummy on display.
Another thing we did, was go back to Piazza San Marco at night to see the tide rise in the square. When the tide gets too high, usually during the fall and winter rainy season, they set up wooden walkways on stilts. We were too tired to go out the first night, which was the highest tide while we were there. The next night the water still filled quite a bit of the area with several inches and we were able to get some really good pictures with the different buildings reflected. There is way too much to see for only 3 1/2 days, but we made a valiant attempt. We saw 8 museums and walked for close to 30 hours while we were there. Perhaps one day we will go back.
(Pictures include: Our hotel with the striped poles at the dock, ceiling of the golden staircase, courtyard of the palace, me on the balcony of St. Mark's, under the bronze horses, and us with the reflections of the Piazza at night.)