Saturday, May 3, 2008

Ahhhhh Venice!

For me, Venice should just naturally be last when recounting a trip to Italy. I don't think it is necessarily the most beautiful or the most interesting from an historical point of view, but it is definitely the most fun and unique place we have been. Rick Steves describes it as a decadent decaying jewel~held afloat by tourism. We all know that Venice is build on the water but I never gave much thought as to why. Many centuries ago the Mongolians were apparently a threat to the people of this area (and afraid of the water??) so the city was build on over 1,000,000 wooden piers out in the lagoon for protection and safety. For several hundred years Venice was a very big hub and the most important sea port in Europe for commerce. There were about 200,000 people living there in its heyday. During that time there were more than 1,000 people that attained individual wealth comparable to the Rockefeller's. The palaces or palazzi were truly decadent and very ornate and beautiful. The life style of the rich and famous was common place along the grand canal.

A Gondolier on The Grand Canal

Grand Canal Sights

Decaying Palaces of Venice

In Venice there are really only a few things to do. You can ride on the water, visit St. Mark's Square, shop and eat, listen to live music and feed the pigeons. It is also a great place for wandering around the back streets and exploring the island. I think that is one thing that made it so much fun~Limited choices~all good ones. It is very easy to get around with lots of waterway choices. You can take the water buses, a water taxi, a gondola...whatever your heart desires and your pocketbook can afford. The canal is teaming with lots of delivery, mail, commercial, police and fire boats and speed boats owned by the locals. There is never a dull moment out there and the water traffic regulations are pretty amazing with lanes and routes and the whole bit. When the siren of a police or fire boat is heard...all the boats pull over to the side just as we do in our cars. If you arrive in Venice by train like we did, everything is readily available for water travel just right outside the train station so it is a very convenient and user friendly city, even when you do not speak the language. We were glad we stayed out in the suburbs and didn't have to roll luggage around and take it on the boats, etc.

Jim at San Marco Square

Views from the top of the Tower on St Mark's Square
All the trees in Venice are under the city!

The back streets of Venice

Feeding the Funny Fat Pigeons of Venice

San Marco Square outdoor cafe. The chairs are all empty because you must buy to sit. It is primarily a bar and this photo was taken at 9:00 am. At night they have great classical concerts here with performers in powdered wigs and full regalia.

The famous Rialto Bridge
One of only three bridges crossing the Grand Canal.

~Back street canal of Venice ~
Grampa & the boys enjoyed
exploring while the moms shopped!

Today the city's population has shrunk to about 65,000 people. They have no schools in Venice so the children that live there have to go to the mainland about 20 minutes away by train. There is a causeway that connects Venice to the mainland now. The Palaces are in a state of decay and disrepair. Many are still inhabited but the residents do not live on the first floors as Venice is sinking and many of them are waterlogged especially during high tide. For the most part these places lie vacant just because they are astronomically expensive to maintain along with a fortune required for rent. Many have been turned into very expensive hotels. We have relatives, that shall remain nameless, who spent more than one thousand dollars per night to stay here.

Us about to board the train from Povada to go to Venice on day 2

Since there are no streets in Venice there are no cars and that was so nice. The tiny streets and alley ways are more like sidewalks so no horn honking or motor noise and no vespas and that was refreshing. There is something that seems so tranquil about water just cannot hurry about as people do everywhere else. There is also something very Disneyland-ish about it. When we first sailed down the canal and saw the palaces my first thought was why don't they paint these places and fix them up a bit, deck them out with lots of light, etc. Then I realized that that would ruin it and make it truly like Disneyland. They have very strict laws that do no allow any changes to the palaces without permission from the powers that be. This is truly a good thing.

Of course one of the main highlights for us was the trips to the other islands, mainly Burano, as I have previously mentioned. There is just something so magical about Venice and everyone should see it at least once in their lifetime.

It was funny but the other day I saw some Rick Steve's DVD on various other countries so I picked one up on Scotland and Ireland. We all adore Scotland so I thought it would be so much fun to watch that one. Well, can I just say that compared to all there is to see and do in Italy, our beloved Scotland paled! I don't think we have ever been anywhere like Italy before. There is so much to see and do and it truly is an eye candy land. There is so much diversity in the kind of spectacular things Italy offers from it's cliff side resorts to it's amazing art and palaces and countryside and historical monuments.

And let's not forget the amazing cuisine and the gelato! My personal favorites were melon (cantaloupe) and fragatto (strawberry.) If you cannot find something to love in Italy I would check my pulse if I were you.

Rossie's favorite gelato was....can you guess....Chocolate!

The setting sun in Venice on our last night there! What an unequaled experience!

Ciao Bella Venice! Until We Meet Again!


Miss Jen said...

I soooooo want to go to Venice! It's been on my list for a long time. I don't know when I'll get there but someday I hope!

Bonnie said...

Jen, no need to totally rush but it is sinking so keep that in mind! Read this report...

"Venice, which rests on millions of wooden piles pounded into marshy ground, has sunk by about seven centimeters a century for the past 1,000 years.

But the U.S. study says that it has subsided 24 centimeters in the past 100 years.

However, Venice's mayor Paolo Costa says the report is inaccurate, although a study carried out by the city authorities concedes it will sink between 20 and 50 centimeters by 2050."

Dad and I will do whatever we can to assist you and Lowell in having this opportunity~watch the kids, come along and care for them or whatever. You will love it!