Monday, June 7, 2010


I took a series of photos when night was falling in Venice that turned out very blurry...  but they somehow manage to capture the mood and quality of light.  Dreamy, impressionistic.

What a city!

We hopped off the ship early in the morning and didn't return until almost midnight.

Over 400 churches, Marco Polo's apartments, Cassanova's apartments, the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's square, the markets, the gardens, the canals, the cafes, the gelato....

Gorgeous buildings. Layers on layers of paint, the different colours peeking through centuries.

I liked the bits and pieces I learned about the Venetians.  They were practical merchants, loved beauty and good government.  The noblemen had a very complicated system to elect the Doge - trying to avoid undo influence:
Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge.[1]

They loved to count and chronicle.  At one point the census showed more than 11,000 prostitutes and courtesans.  They had their special quarters, as did the Jews.  And the Germans.  And the merchants.  Very organized.  Extremely regimented.  The public archives are open and available to scholars who can access these ancient records, along with fragments left by Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Napolean is not well liked by most Italians, but especially not by Venetians, because he destroyed the Republic of Venice, which had existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century AD until the year 1797. It is often referred to as La Serenissima, in reference to its title in Venetian, the Most Serene Republic.

When we were leaving the Doge's Palace I saw a book called 'Secret Gardens of Venice' and would have bought it if I didn't have to lug it around.  Now that I am googling at home I see there are regular tours that can be arranged.

Every once in awhile I'd glimpse some green, like this little garden.  And the hanging baskets and window boxes and terrace gardens. With so much stone and water everwhere, the vegetation really pops.

A full day of walking around ended with a gondola ride, just as night was falling.  We waited until most of the gondolas has been put to bed and avoided the traffic jam.  As we toured in the magic hour we only crossed paths with one other boat.  A few Italian bats flew overhead to keep us company.

When it was dark we went to St. Mark's Square.  There were three different restaraunts with orchestras playing, and the crowd would run from one to the next as they played.  We decided to sit down.  A waiter dressed in a tux came and gave us the menu - $12 Euro for an ice cream seemed extravagant, but we wanted to treat Alex.  And of course, a glass of wine for me, and a Compari for Rob.  We were still surprised when the bill came.  It didn't add up.  And then we saw the charge for the 'music show'.  Another $17 Euro.  Yet, somehow it seemed a small price to pay.

When we woke the next morning, this was the view from our suite's window.  The boat had traveled to the base of St. Mark's, and we hopped off as quick as we could to see more.

Departure time was 1:30 so we were able to cram in more sights.  At 1:00 we returned to the boat and it looked like 2000 people were standing in line to board.  So we grabbed a table at a nearby cafe and sipped on lemoncello.  For as long as we possibly could.  I think we were among the last ten to board.

Next time I will rent an apartment and stay at least two weeks.

I recently spoke with someone who spent a year writing in Venice and improving their Italian.  Sounds like an excellent investment to me!

1 comment:

Giulia said...

I'm so pleased you had a lovely time. I'm afraid to go back as it may burst my Venetian bubble.:) I spent 2 weeks there early in life & in a November, too. So nearly no tourists, etc. I know someone who is living there & writing now & I am dithering about whether I really want to go back. The person completely understands, btw, my hanging back. We'll see.

Cheers, Diane. Or I should say, "buon giorno"

PS: Though for learning Italian, I recommend Perugia. While it is lovely there, as well, it is not as distracting as Venice. Plus, the dialect...well you'd pick that up on the street. (In a good way:)