17 Nov Venice – A City I Longed to Visit
And there we were, finally, in the middle of it. Well actually, on the edge of it, looking down from the hotel’s roof top bar.
We arrived at our hotel, the Hilton Molino Stucky in Sestriere (district of) Giudecca around 3 pm, Tuesday 4th October 2016. I couldn’t wait to get out and see the whole of Venice, but we were both tired. So a short walk alongside the Canale Della Giudecca and a visit to the rooftop bar of the hotel would have to suffice, for today.
Next morning I awoke early, did my best not to disturb Maggie, and burst outside to catch the sun rising over Venice.
In beautiful dawn light another boat load of visitors arrived in Venice.
It looked so peaceful and beautiful over there. A new thought disturbed that perspective – over there, and here, are the descendents of a fearsome race of warriors; people who dominated this part of the world and resisted all foes for centuries; until 1797 when Napoleon set up a blockade, threatening to starve them into submission.
After breakfast and all excited, we caught the hotel shuttle boat to St Marks Square for our guided tour of central Venice. Starting a litle west of “The Square” our guide led us through narrow alleys, various Campos (squares) and past many significant buildings.
I completely missed the point here. This Basilica (on the right) is one of the largest churches in Venice and the burial-place for 25 of the Doges (the most senior elected official of Venice). But my eye was distracted by the amazing “perspective reliefs” on the front wall of the less significant building, the Scuola Grande di San Marco (a church school of music).
Most of the locals were very tolerant of the crowds of invaders, but some were obviously annoyed when their progress was impeded by pesky tourists who didn’t have the common decency to “tenere la destra” (keep to the right) of the narrow pathways. On the canals it seemed a lot less stressful.
And before we knew it we’d popped out onto the famous Saint Mark’s Square.
My mind raced; where is the bank from the Bond Movie Casino Royale (2006)? It was here somewhere … What do you mean IT DOESN’T EXIST? What about the hotel? Not here either???
The famous Basilica is here….it’s real.
At the same end of the square is St Marks Clock Tower with its 500 years old astrological “dial”.
Our morning tour completed, we continued exploring, rather than return to the hotel.
In “the square” 100s of people where doing all sorts of things.
This is Maggie sporting her best gondolier’s shirt. Blue and white strips are the norm, yet a red striped shirt is also allowable to show an “upbeat mood” (apparently?), but the thickness of the strips must be to regulation. Sorry Maggie, your shirt may not conform.
We just kept wandering and reached the Canal Grande and a view of this significant bridge.
On the bridge people were standing three deep against the railing, awaiting an opportunity to take a photo (mostly “selfies”).
When my opportunity came, I fired off a couple of shots, then made room for the next person (such a polite person I am).
“Quiet….listen….James Bond is chasing Vesper through the alleyways of Venice (Casino Royale 2006). He gets a glimpse of her just before she crosses Ponte De Le Colonne……”
“Ten years later in this very same place, the man standing at the front of this gondola is…
….. an opera singer, a tenor, and he is singing at the top of his voice, accompanied by a piano accordionist who is also in the gondola.”
It was magnificent to be right there, at that moment and hear Italian opera resounding off the canal walls…It was “hair raisingly” brilliant.
A private tour of the interior of St Mark’s Basilica was scheduled for Wednesday Night, 5th October, however that was cancelled by the church the day before. Fortunately our cruise company, Voyages to Antiquity, was able to arrange an evening visit to the Museum of Venetian Art and Antiquities (Museo Correr) instead. The Museo Correr is the building at the western end of St Mark’s Square (opposite The Basilica).
We saw so many significant works of art and such beautiful decor I didn’t know what to photograph, but the decor piqued my interest, so that’s what I concentrated on. Here are a few examples.
Unfortunately I cannot remember or find details on the following two rooms.
Our final day in Venice started with more free time in the district of San Marco.
This canal, Rio di palazzo, runs beside the Doge’s Palace and behind St Mark’s Basilica. What a beautiful day and romantic location for a wedding.
And further north on that same canal….
Our last minutes in the city were spent considering Venetian food, but with no time to indulge.
Around 2pm we boarded the MV Aegean Odyssey and settled into our cabin, preparing for three weeks of onboard living.
As the sun signaled the closing of the day, Aegean Odyssey hauled anchor and slowly departed the city of Venice.
Arrivederci Venice, we love you.
Can any other destination match Venice?
Come with us to Ancona, Italy and take a bus trip to the ancient walled city of Urbino in our next episode of Voyage to Antiquity.