Saturday, 22 November 2014
So being the super planner that I am I made my parents a list of interesting sites to see in the area. During breakfast I marked some on the map and we headed to the closest one.
One of Italy’s most common landmarks is churches. In the US I am used to seeing churches that, while beautiful, are simple. However since Catholicism is King, churches here are beautiful in their extravagance. So it only makes sense that one of the first places I take my parents would be one! We went to San Zaccaria, home to the Bellini altarpiece, a beautiful masterpiece. This church is one of the 8 San Mango Churches and was originally founded and built in the 7th century. In 1105 a fire destroyed much of the building and it had to be rebuilt. The current church was built in late 1400 to early 1500 with several pieces of the old church used in its construction. One thing that makes this church so beautiful is that it’s façade is a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles. One interesting fact was that this church used to be connected to a Benedictine convent where the daughters of several rich venetians were placed against their will. They were very famous, not only for their power and influence, but for the wild nature of many of their members. There are some crazy stories about the San Zaccaria nuns, how they would throw parities and even ran a salon in the convent. Once they even threw rocks at some authorities when they came to break up a party. Unfortunately for the nuns they took it a little too far that time and the Doge cracked down on them, walling up the windows and most of the doors to the convent. So glad I wasn’t borne in those times. So the cultural importance and art aside- Why this church?
Remember that Venice is pretty much at sea level so Crypts are very uncommon here. San Zaccaria has one of the few crypts in the city, home to 8 of the past Doges. The Flooded Crypt of San Zaccaria is nearly always flooded, and it’s only possible to go down the stars unless you want to get your feet wet. If I ever go again I will bring galoshes.
Next we headed to piazza San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square, home to Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and Torre dell’Orologio. It was high tide so water was already leaking out of the drains into the square!
The Doge’s Palace is a massive building, the old home of the Doge, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice. In 1923 it was open as a museum.
The Doge’s Apartment and the Institutional Chambers were beautiful but the old prison was also really cool! It was strange thinking of the most important figure in Venice living in the same complex as its prisoners.
The prison was very dark and narrow! I wonder how much light the prisoners got…
After the Doge’s Palace we decided to head to Murano Island since the rest of the city seemed flooded! haha
Murano Glass is famous, and there is a reason! We went to a factory where they were doing demonstrations! I was really impressed with the skill they showed.
I mean look what they have made!!!
My Dad wanted this one-
I wanted this… however it cost over 20,000 euros!!!!
However later when walking around the island, away from the fancy shops we found some more reasonably priced items… including BUGS!!!
After we had wandered around the island for awhile we headed to a water taxi to get a ride home. It was nearly 5 and the sun was going to set soon so I separated from my parents on the way back to find the ‘Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World.’
Libreria Acqua Alta (Library High Water) actually floods during high tide! So what did the owner do? He filled the rooms with bathtubs and boats! No joke.
Old books have been used as part of the building too! There is a staircase made of old books!!!! (it gets dark in Italy really early, it was only a little after 5!)
I believe this is a used book store, because of how disorganized and old many of the items were. I even found one of my favorite series as a kid! I was really tempted to buy it!! Instead I bought some maps for myself and a gift for my boyfriend. The owner was so sweet. He was a big older man, who had several cats wandering around him at all time. He kept showing me different maps and pictures and was so friendly.
After my wonderful journey I headed back to the hotel… I may have gotten a little lost, but hey it gave me time to pick up some other gifts, hah! By the time I got back to the hotel my parents were hungry! We headed over to the Rialto Bridge since we hadn’t been there yet. That is the big bridge, covered in shops. It was so busy! And high.
We stopped at a place right along the Grand Canal for dinner who specialized in fish (because its Venice). I typically avoid seafood because the strong odor fish get when they lose their freshness makes me really nauseous. I gag when I walk by the fish area in the grocery store at the end of the day. My Dad kept saying I should be brave and try new things specially since its Venice and they are famous for their seafood. Dad had a point and we were at a nice restaurant so I was brave and ordered the Seafood Spaghetti.
Yes that is an Octopus leg. I was surprised that it wasn’t horrible. Definitely not my favorite, way to rich, but ok.
As we headed back to the hotel I couldn’t help but admire how beautiful this city is. No wonder it has captured the hearts and minds of people for generations, and while people insist on staying on this sinking city.