Venice (Venizia): water, water everywhere!

Trip Start May 09, 2009
1
4
96
Trip End May 27, 2010


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

They say you either love Venice or hate it.  We absolutely loved it.  What's not to love?  Well, the hundreds of tourists everywhere - but since we were part of that, we can't complain.  But everything else is even more than we imagined...the canals "roadways" and the beautiful old buildings.  Unfortunately, global warming is causing increasing flooding and the water is starting to rise above the stone foundations of the buildings and get into the brickwork.  Hopefully, Venice can be saved for future generations.  (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/venice/solutions.html)

Fortunately, no flooding occurred while we there (if so, they have huge tables they string together to form a walkway above the floodline!).  Our hotel was right near Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), which is crowded with tourists and vendors, but is also home to the Basilica of St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace.  The best time to see it is at night, which is also when you can hear live music for free in the square.

Our tour included a visit to a Murano glass demonstration and to one of the official outlets in Venice.  We did not have time to get to the Venetian island of Murano where the glass is made.  Murano has been making glass since the 13th century and is still considered some of the finest glass in the world.  If we had lottery winnings in hand, we would have loved to own one of their sculptures, but had to be content with a Murano glass pendant for Pam's travel charm bracelet!!

Our hotel faced the lagoon and it was wonderful to sit out on their terrace for breakfast and watch the boat traffic - including the garbage boats!  It gave you a real sense of how everything runs on water there.

We did the admittedly hokey tourist thing of riding in a gondola and it was VERY hokey (and although there was an accordionist on the nearest boat, our gondolier was smoking and talking on his cell phone while steering our gondola!).  Nevertheless, it is a great way to get down some of the narrowe canals and, as it turned out, it was our only opportunity to be on the canals, since the "vaporettas" (water buses) went on strike the next day when we had planned to use them on our free day touring.  Instead, we walked everywhere and tried to cram in as much as we could in a day. 

One of the favorite spots we visited was the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of modern art.  It is located in Peggy's former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal.  It was quite a juxtaposition of sometimes stark modernity in an old Venetian villa.  Her collection is outstanding and very much worth seeing.

But to us, the best part of Venice is that everywhere you looked there was something of beauty -- our camera went on overtime here.

It was hard to leave Venice (so much to see and not enough time!) but Florence was next...another bellissimmo city.
 
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