Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Italy part 2 - Venice (Venezia)

(Pictures at the bottom. To see lots more pictures, leave me a comment & I can email you the link. Assuming I know you :-) .)

Okay, on to Venice. We arrived at the airport then took a boat the size of a small bus over to Venice. We dragged our luggage up & down stairs & through narrow streets for about 30 minutes searching out our hotel. At this point we had basically not slept in over 36 hours so we are all fairly irritable. But we had a yummy first dinner in Italy, then went straight to bed.

What struck me about Venice is that it is exactly the way you see in pictures. The houses on the water, bridges & gondolas, flower boxes & clothes drying on the side of homes… all of it was so pretty. I felt like that again in Tuscany too (but I’ll get to that later).

On the first day in each city, we had a tour in the morning. Our tour in Venice took us through St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) & through the Doge’s palace (Palazzo Ducale). I had studied the palace in my architectural history class (get ready to hear that a lot) so I LOVED seeing this building in person – it was my favorite in Venice. There is a bell tower in the square & twice a year four little people – Josh said it’s Mary & the 3 wise men but I don’t remember – they come out these doors & circle the clock, & that happened to be the first day we were there, & we saw it, while it was the first time our tour guide had ever seen it, & she lives in Venice, so that was cool.

The last part of the tour took us out on a boat to the island of Murano, which is famous for the hand-blown glass made out there. We sat & watched a man make a glass & a horse, & it was really neat to see how talented he was, & how quickly he made such pretty creations. After that Josh starting searching for a Murano glass to buy, but the prices in Venice were too high; he bought one later in Rome so he was a happy fellow.

Our dinner that night was so yummy – I had a thin breaded fish on top of pureed asparagus, with asparagus & goat cheese – oh it was so good! The food there is SO FRESH - it tasted like they had plucked the asparagus out of the ground right before serving it to me. Italians cook very simply – lots of olive oil, fresh foods, herbs, not a ton of fried foods, creams, etc. like we eat.

The second day, we viewed the inside of St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco) where Mark’s relics are said to be (we didn’t see where they were, you had to pay to get in that part) – of course, since they lost his remains several times throughout the centuries, they’re not POSITIVE they are his, but they like to say so. J We then walked over to go inside the Ca’ D’Oro, another building I studied in my class, which was a very wealthy man’s home. It is really pretty too. We also toured the Ca’ Rezzonico, another rich person’s home that still has the original rooms intact & some of the original d├ęcor.

Here’s a funny story: so, in the Frankfurt airport, we went to this sandwich/coffee stand to get some food & caffeine. We stood waiting for our turn to order, & had a couple of people walk up & totally cut in front of us. Of course we are thinking that is slightly rude, but we are in a different country after all, so we blew it off. The first night we were in Venice, same thing happened as we tried to buy gelato – people walked in after us but walked right up & ordered as we waited. We later found out that Italians (& I guess Germans) don’t do the whole “line” thing – if they know what they want, they walk up & order. If you are standing there, not being assertive to order, they assume you don’t know what you want & get in front of you. Ha! After that we did pretty well at fitting in when ordering, since we knew what to do!

We spent the rest of that day wandering around Venice, which is easy to do with all the streets & bridges leading every which way. We went inside a few churches, ate some pizza & gelato (I had over 10 helpings of gelato the entire time, my mom had 18!), & walked a LOT. Getting away from the super-touristy center of Venice was nice; it was our first glimpse of real Italian life.

Summary of Venice: I liked it because it was our first experience in Italy. But it is a very touristy city, & I feel like going once was enough for us. If we ever made it back to Italy (which I would LOVE), we’d definitely want to go back to Florence. Which was our next stop!

(Click on the pictures to enlarge.)
A View of Venice

The Grand Canal

St. Mark's Basilica

No comments: