Italia! Day Four

Trip Start Jan 05, 2011
1
50
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Trip End May 18, 2011


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Flag of Italy  , Veneto,
Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ciao!

    Sunday morning was the earliest of all our days in Italy. We got up around 5:30, which in retrospect was plenty late as we hardly made it on our 6:30 train to Venice. From Trieste, Venice is about two hours by train, which passes really quickly between sleeping and gazing out at the Italian countryside.

    We left Trieste by train, and arrived in Venice by that very same method. We arrived at the train station (a good place for trains to arrive), which is circled on the map in gold. After leaving the station and getting our bearings, we crossed the Ponte Degli Scalzi ("bridge of the barefoot monks"), which is one of only for bridges to span Venice's Grand Canal.

    From the outset, our destination was the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Plaza). Getting there was quite the adventure. If you look at the map, you'll see just how haphazardly the "streets" are laid out. (I say "streets," however, they are more or less sidewalks, as there are no cars or scooters in Venice.) It is incredibly easy to get lost walking about, even with a map. But hey, getting lost in Venice is actually pretty fun. There are a lot worse things that could happen.
   
    On the way to San Marco, we crossed another of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, Ponte di Rialto (Indicated on the map by the blue blob). From there, we continued our way through the disorientating streets until we arrived at San Marco. (See green outline)
   
    Some of the notable features of the Piazza include the Campanile (bell tower), the clock tower, and the beautiful St. Mark's basilica. The line to get into the basilica was obscenely long, so unfortunately we didn't get to go inside. It was simply insane how many people were at the Piazza. An estimated 50,000 tourists visit the city every day, making it the 28th most internationally visited city. In fact, so many people flock to Venice that the city is trying to slow tourism to a controllable amount.

    From there, Elisa suggested we check out an art gallery, so that's what we did (we stopped at a crafts market on the way, which was also cool). From there, we walked to the Ponte dell' Accademia, yet another of the Grand Canal bridges. This, as you can see on the map, was the turning point of our exploration of Venice.

    It was at this point that Ashley and I separated from Elisa, who set out on a personal mission to visit another art gallery. Ashley and I set out on a mission of our own: to find some Venetian masks. It's easy to see where Shakespeare found inspiration for his "Merchant of Venice." Merchants are absolutely everywhere! It's crazy! And of course, they all have similar yet slightly different offerings, so we had to walk around to find just the right masks.

    We started on our way back to the train station (to catch our train) after about an hour of mask hunting (and of course, we got gelato along the way). Walking around Venice in unlike walking in any other city in the world. The intertwinement of walkways, canals, and architecture, in addition to the atmosphere, really make it an unforgettable experience. If you plan on touring Europe, make a stop in Venice, if only for a day. It's phenomenal.

    I guess I'll stop typing now and let the pictures do the talking :)

    Rob

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