Ciao Bella Venezia

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Today was my last day in Venice, although my parents were staying for a little longer. We got started early, and who wouldn’t with this beautiful view. My Dad sure knows how to pick a place.

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Today we decided to go over the Grand Canal to the very tip of the entrance on that side, near to the Dorsoduro, to take in the sights. It is a bit of a walk though so we took our time. This morning the gondola’s were in full production and it was pretty funny watching them trying to get under the short bridges.

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If you plan a trip, (be it to Disney or Europe) always try to plan it during the off-season. Things may not be open as late or as long, but the lack of crowds is always worth it (take it from a former Disney Cast member). I don’t think my parents realize how lucky they are to have seen St. Marks almost empty!

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Family pictures! I got a few on my camera!

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It was a bit of a walk to get across the Grand Canal so by the time we got there we were awake and eager. It didn’t help that we decided to do this during high tide so one minute we are standing on the edge gazing at the beautiful view, the next I am screeching like an alley cat as I tried to keep my feet dry.

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(My Dad swears this is an outhouse… sometimes I wonder how we are related).

After that nice walk we went back to St. Mark’s Square to do some of the museums there. First we visited The Correr Museum. The museum is build in the Napoleonic wing, built in 1806-1814, when Venice was part of the Kingdom of Italy for Napoleon (who would have guessed right?). Of course it wasn’t finished until after Venice was under someone else rule, because you know that’s just how this happens. Like most older buildings in Italy, the rooms are masterpieces, with ornate paintings on the walls, carvings, and an all over atmosphere of history and strength.

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I liked this room the best. My Dad might have taken a picture of me in a very maniacal pose…  DSCN8708 DSCN8706

Now the Correr Museum actually connects to the Archaeological Museum, so we journeyed into that next. It had some really interesting pieces, but I think the coolest is below.

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It’s probably hard to see exactly what this is. The map on the wall is a very famous map of Venice, you can get a print of it anywhere. Underneath that glass however is the original 6 wood blocks that were used to make it. They are massive, it’s crazy to imagine someone sitting there and carving such an intricate woodblock. How beautiful!!

At this point it was time to get lunch and go back to the hotel so I could grab my bag and walk to the train station (it would have been faster to take a water taxi but I like walking around cities like this).

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The smell of fish once it’s not super fresh makes me super nauseous, like about to throw-up nauseous. I am happy to report however that Venice doesn’t smell like that (I was actually really worried about that, because I did not want to be gagging the entire trip). Typically when I am near the ocean or fish restaurants I have a puerperal stomach ache from nauseousness. Venice is very clean however, and it doesn’t smell like fish at all!

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Bye-bye beautiful city. I already miss you.

Also can I just say, if I could possibly fit one of these masks in my luggage without breaking it my wallet would be in epic trouble.

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Back to work and FAO!

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The Venetian Streets… eh or Canals?

 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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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The prison was very dark and narrow! I wonder how much light the prisoners got…

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After the Doge’s Palace we decided to head to Murano Island since the rest of the city seemed flooded! haha

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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.

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I mean look what they have made!!!

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My Dad wanted this one-

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I wanted this… however it cost over 20,000 euros!!!!

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However later when walking around the island, away from the fancy shops we found some more reasonably priced items… including BUGS!!!

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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.’

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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