After spending two beautiful days in Lake Como we arrived in Venice by train. When we got to Venice we quickly learned about the vaporettos which are Venice’s water buses. Since there are no cars in Venice, all traffic takes place on the Grand Canal or on one of the many smaller canals. Here’s a view of the Grand Canal.
We got lost many, many times during our 2 days in Venice. About 400 bridges connect the 118 islands that that make up the city of Venice. The city is sinking at a rate of about one cm per year, and many of the streets get flooded during high tide. When we arrived we saw many low tables, about 2′ high, stacked up on the streets. We didn’t know what they were for, but the next day we saw them set out placed end to end. They formed a raised walkway to use when the streets flood! Here we are in St. Mark’s Square, the large main square where St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace are located, which is flooded with six inches of water!
In spite of the flooding, Venice is an enchanting city. Gondolas are everywhere, with their suave gondoliers showing the sites to all of the many tourists. We took a gondola ride one late afternoon. Our gondolier, Marco, was born in Venice and his family has been there for many generations. He was charming and very informative, taking us down the Grand Canal as well as to many of the narrow canals that run throughout Venice. He pointed out many of the famous palaces that line the Grand Canal, as well as the house where Marco Polo once lived. There’s so much history in this city.
We also visited the island of Murano which is just off the coast of Venice. It’s there that they produce all of the beautiful Murano glass. We got to see a demonstration of glass-blowing and then visited many of the beautiful shops selling the decorative glass. Venice is known for its masks, and the city is filled with shops selling the unique and distinctive handmade masks. They’re all so beautiful.
We toured the Doge’s Palace, which was the home and offices of the Doge, the leader of Venice. Doges ruled Venice for over a thousand years until the last Doge was overthrown when Napolean conquered Venice in 1797. The Palace is filled with sculpture and beautiful frescoes. The highlight of the tour for me was going over the Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge of Sighs connects the palace to the prison. It got its name because prisoners crossing the bridge on their way to prison would look out at Venice for the last time and sigh before entering the prison. The prison is no longer in use, but it was amazing to see the old cells with their centuries old graffiti. Here’s a view of the interior courtyard of the Doge’s Palace.
On our last day in Venice we visited St. Mark’s Cathedral, one of many beautiful cathedrals we saw in Italy. St. Mark’s is extremely large and beautifully detailed. I wished that we could have stayed longer in Venice, but after two days it was time to take the train to Florence. That will be our next stop.