Kittie Howard

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Venice Charms

Originally a settlement on Italy's mainland, Venice's inhabitants relocated to a series of man-made islands in the nearby marshy Adriatic Sea in order to escape plundering bandits. By the late 13th century, Venice had grown into a major commercial and sea power.

Although we're staying in Lido de Jesolo, across the Bay of Venice from the city, last week we were part of the huge influx of tourists who visit this remarkable city with stone buildings that rise out of the sea, as if by magic when viewed from the distance. After a convenient bus ride to the ferry port and a relaxing, air conditioned 45-minute ferry ride, we approached Venice.

As with other visits, my heart thumped with excitement. Venice is eternal. Venice is beauty. Venice is romance. Venice is imagination.

Some highlights:

Our ferry docked feet from the Metropole, one of the most expensive hotels in Venice. Well-heeled tourists arrive by private taxi and dock at the hotel's private landing behind the hotel. If you saw "Casino Royale," one of the scenes was at the landing. But the real reason I mention this hotel is because it was once Europe's first orphanage. During Venice's lively history, mistresses of the city's elite would leave their babies on the doorstep for the nuns to care for. Those girls who had beautiful voices filled choirs. Others learned lacemaking, their handiwork sold on Burano, one of Venice's islands (that is especially beautiful in the morning). Vivaldi, who wrote the opera "The Four Seasons," worshiped in the orphanage's church. Several years ago, one of the Metropole's receptionists showed Mr. H. and me the circular stone stairway that had led to the balcony where the choir sang. Now cordoned off for safety reasons, seeing well-trodden steps was an awesome experience.

San Marco's (St. Mark's) church in the piazza. The exterior pressure washing finally completed, the church is magnificent! The doge's palace is to the far right. Musicians play in the evening across from the church.

Venice spreads out from San Marco's. This canal runs from the Grand Canal, in the far distance. There are no cars, etc. in Venice. However a causeway does link Venice with Italy's mainland, with a parking lot for those who own cars.

Wikipedia's photo of the Grand Canal and the Rialto (shopping area) is much better than mine.  One year we took a water taxi to the Riato's back entrance (fish market) and continued onward to the Rialto Bridge, eventually returning to San Marco's. Signs with arrows help the tourist return.

Along the way, so many shops. This linen shop caught my wistful eye.
The latest fall fashions on display. 

Except for the piazzas, passageways are narrow throughout Venice. Everything comes in by boat. 

But it's a short boat ride for the famed Murano glass from the nearby island of Murano.  Because Venice was so densely populated, fire was a constant threat centuries ago, especially from the furnaces where artisans made the blown glass. And also because these glass blowers were like rock stars in their day, the Venetians decided that it was easier to protect themselves from fires and keep these artisans under closer watch if the entire operation moved to Murano. Artisans who divulged glass-blowing secrets had to escape Murano quickly or else suffer the severe consequences. Although they don't show very well, the clowns in the photo are extremely intricate, with attention to the smallest detail and brutally expensive. A bit of caution: Although there are many affordable Murano glass souvenirs, always labeled as such,  the Chinese have flooded the market with very cheap imitations (wine corks, letter openers and the like) that initially look good but often crack later.
Amid all the shops, these actors in the theatre district  handed out flyers advertising a play during a festival the following weekend.

Of course, Venice wouldn't be Venice without a gondola ride. This is one of the passenger loading areas.

And one of its many canals.

Nor would Venice be Venice without a nice coffee and a treat  while the gondolas glide by . . . ahhhh!

Next stop: Vienna, Austria. 


Linda Starr said...

Oh you are having a European tour, how wonderful, Venice seems so romantic I'd like to take ride on all those waterways.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Kittie, by now you should be in Vienna attending some magnificent concert and oogling those gorgeous buildings. Thanks for the Venice tour. We stayed near St Mark's Square when we were there. Wonderful. Nothing like Venice! Enjoy!

Denise :-)

mshatch said...

Oh boy am I envious of you! What fun you must be having!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kittie - it does look amazing .. and is a city I've never visited - but I'd love to see, and to see the Murano glass. Also such an interesting history and how it's evolved etc ...

Looks like you're having a fun time ... Vienna will be amazing too .. cheers Hilary

William Kendall said...

Such beautiful shots, Kittie! I would love to see Venice someday.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a lovely vacation!

Murees Dupè said...

Gorgeous pictures. I definitely like those boots and the pastries. I hope you are having lots of fun.

Norma said...

To quote Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade: "Ah, Venice!"

Liza said...

Thank you for the lovely tour!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting history behind that hotel.
Cool photos! Bet it was almost surreal to really be there.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I long to visit Venice. My BFF was there last year and couldn't say enough. You took some awesome photos, Kittie! Happy Trails.

Joel said...

Hi, Nice post I enjoyed reading it. Can I contact you through your email? Please email me back. Thanks!



Sandra said...

Hello Kitty

Glad you are having a wonderful time. Venice is beautiful and I would like
to return one day. The photos are magnificent, thank you! Best wishes

Vagabonde said...

We spent a week in Venice a couple of years ago so I loved looking at your photographs. I still have many photographs to place in a post but time always goes by so quickly. I also read 2 or 3 books on the problems that too many tourists are bringing to Venice. I hope the city will still be there for all in the future.

Sandra said...

Hi Kitty
Venice is a favourite city and I also hope to return.
So beautiful! I also enjoy books which are set in Venice.
A magnificent city with its beautiful architecture and
Lots of wonderful memories for you and lovely photos.