SEPTEMBER 14, 2013
Smile and be happy. We are in Venice
We started off our morning with a wonderful complimentary breakfast prepared by Marco himself.
Venice has seen a dramatic increase in floods called ‘Acqua Alta’, once a rare occurrence, it has become much more frequent in the past few years. Venetians do what they can to protect their homes and shops which include raising many doorways or abandoning their first floors all together. Our building was no exception. The entry to our hotel lobby was raised about a foot high. As you can see from the below photo this meant a nice ‘Melissa size” doorway into our apartment. Not ideal for tall (or average) height people! Throw into the mix an evening of wine and you have Rob with a souvenir bump on the head and a very bruised Melissa (for forgetting there was a step down in front of the door!). Oh and probably a hotel staff who must have had a great chuckle watching it all on the surveillance camera!
***Dont get me wrong, I still would recommend Al Campaniel As it was fantastic value, in a wonderful location and the owner went beyond our expectations to make our stay a memorable one!
The Very Best Advice For Visiting Venice:
- To truly experience the magic of Venice, you have to spend at least one night in Venice (not on the mainland, either) and plan on two full days in the city.
The best times of day in the city – without question – are the early morning (before the day-trippers arrive) and the late evening (after the day-trippers leave). It is hard to describe the amounts of tourist who flood the streets from the massive cruise ships. The narrow streets are jammed pack by day but in the evenings it’s like a whole new city! I strongly advise grabbing a bottle of wine and finding a quite spot along a canal and truly soak in the sights and sounds of this unique destination!
- Your first day in Venice should be spent getting as utterly lost as you possibly can. I’m serious. See the direction the crowd is going? Turn left. And keep walking. Find another crowd? Go the other way. Keep walking until you find those quiet back-streets of Venice, where Venetians live and work and shop!
- Put down the map. Maps in Venice are almost entirely useless, and you can’t get too lost, anyway. You’re on an island, after all, and you can always ask someone to direct you back to St. Mark’s Square or the Rialto and find your way from there.
- If lost, stop by any hotel. Almost all hotels have business cards with maps printed on the back. Use these to get a sense of your location!
- Visit St. Mark’s Square at night. Although unbearably busy during the day, late at night it is a special experience with dueling orchestras. There are a number of cafes in Piazza San Marco. Three of these cafes have their own small orchestras that play during the evening. If you choose to sit at a cafe table, you will pay a cover charge for the orchestra as well as a much higher than usual price for any food or beverages. Don’t let this deter you. Find yourself a refreshing gelato and enjoy walking around to each cafe, enjoy the music and watch couples dance in the square!
The Grande Canal
By the time we hit the streets the tourists were out in full swing. It really made us appreciate our quiet walk though the maze of streets the night before! We took a waterbus down the Grand Canal to St Marks Square.
St Mark’s Square
St. Mark’s Basilica
Basilica di San Marco is a must-see while in Venice! It dates from the 11th century and stands proudly at the head of St. Mark’s Square. It certainly is not a Gothic church, but built in Byzantine style. To empathize the city’s position as an important stop on the trade routes, the front of the Basilica is decorated with mis-matched columns which were all stolen from elsewhere and brought back to Venice as trophies.
The word “basilica” denotes the fact that a church houses the remains of a saint (or the partial remains, anyway), and in this case the saint in question is St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice. His bones were brought to Venice in the 9th century, stolen from Egypt and intended to increase the importance of Venice even more.
The Mosaics of St. Mark’s
St. Mark’s Basilica is probably best known for its mosaics. The floor, walls, and ceiling are covered with them (there are more than 40,000 square feet of mosaics inside), and they’re spectacular. Even the arches above the entries have notable mosaics, especially the one which depicts the delivery of St. Mark’s bones to Venice – complete with a representation of the Basilica itself in the background – which adorns the doorway at the far left of the church’s front. The huge domed ceilings are largely done in gold, while the floor – too often overlooked – ripples with the years of Venice’s sinking
The Campanile (bell tower), of St. Mark’s Basilica
For a small fee, you can ride an elevator to the top of the bell tower for a lovely view of the top of St. Mark’s as well as over the Grand Canal. Just be careful about the timing of your visit. The gigantic bells are right above the heads of visitors, and they’re not quiet. If you’re there near the hour, be sure to cover your ears.
Wandering the Narrow Streets of Venice
San Polo, 2898/a, 30125 Venice, Italy
Directly across the street from our apartment was a the most amazing chocolate shop. If you’re a chocolate lover, you can’t leave Venice without trying a little something from this place! The prices are a bit high, but if you love great chocolate, it’s worth it. I purchase a couple treats to share with Rob including a delicious sugared pear!
An Evening in Venice
We grabbed a bottle of Italy’s famous sparkling Prosecco wine (from vineyards just north of Venice) and headed out for an evening adventure. We found a nice location to sit, on a dead end street along the Canal. We popped open our bottle of bubbly and said a cheers to the fun day in Venice.
We later made our way back to St. Mark’s Square. It was a complete different atmosphere from earlier in the day. The massive lines and the hoards of day trippers were gone for the day. The square was alive with music and celebration! We did our research about how the best time to enjoy this city was at night, and they couldn’t be more correct! We bought ourselves a couple of generous sized Gelatos and wandered around the square listening to the cafe’s dueling orchestras! Such a memorable evening in such a picture perfect city!