Day 2: Venice—The Floating City

Left the hotel at 9.00 am after a filling continental breakfast and proceeded to Venice. On the way, we passed through the famous Verona city. Three of Shakespeare’s plays (Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentleman of Verona, and The Taming of the Shrew) are set in Verona. We were told that one of the main attractions of Verona is the balcony where Romeo used to visit Juliet.

Now, we did not visit the place, but being a romatic at heart, and having grown up on a good diet of Shakespearen plays, checked the Internet for more information and found a picture of the balcony, which I am posting here:

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Balcony of Juliet’s house at Verona

Now, if we think a bit, Romeo-Juliet was but a play by Shakespeare. So, they survived in books not in this world isn’t it? So, how true is this balcone? Anyway, proceeding with our travel story, we took two stops on the way. Stopped at autogrill for a short break and stopped for lunch.

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Stopped at Autogrill on the way to Venice.

We reached the place to get the water taxi at about 3.00 pm.  We sailed in a special water taxi to Piazza San Marco. Reached Venice at about 4.15 pm.

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The water taxi ride was very interesting. We kept looking all round and clicking photographs. Beautiful view. The ride took about 45 minutes and another 15 minutes trying to find place to dock….

 Venice is built on 180 islands that are connected by over 400 bridges, with hundreds of canals criss-crossing the town. It is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. Venice is known by many names: Queen of the Adriatic, City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges, The Floating City, and City of Canals. Venice is fondly referred to as La Serenissima meaning Queen of the Adriatic.

On the city tour, we got to see incredible sites such as the Bridge of Sighs, the Ducale Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica and the Clock tower which are part of this romantic city.

Bridge of Sighs

This bridge was designed by Antoni Contino and was built in 1602. The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo connecting the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.

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The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the fact that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.  A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge Of Sighs.

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The Palace prisons were famous for being difficult to escape. However, someone did manage to demonstrate to the contrary. Casanova was a man with special gifts: a legendary seducer, but also amateur scholar, actor and for a short period even abbot. When they put him in the Piombi he was twenty-nine and had already travelled the world. But it was only after his escape that his destiny turned to fame and riches

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Casanova left the Piombi on the night between 31 October and 1 November 1756. Digging up the wooden planks with a makeshift tool he climbed out of his cell onto the roof and then down into an attic. Crossing the whole palace he reached the golden staircase where he was seen by a guard who mistook him for a politician who’d been locked in and let him out. A legend says he stopped for a coffee in San Marco square before fleeing by sea on a gondola.

The Ducale Palace

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The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The Palace is the most representative symbol of Venice’s culture, which, together with the Basilica of SanMarco and the Piazzetta, forms of the most famous sceneries in the world.

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Cleaning work going on

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Work on the windows

 

For centuries the Doge’s Palace had three fundamental roles: as the Doge residence, the seat of government and as the palace of justice. This was where some of the most important decisions for Venice’s, and even Europe’s destiny were taken. It was turned into a museum in 1923.

Today, it is one of the 11 museums. The oldest part of the palace is the façade overlooking the lagoon, the corners of which are decorated with 14th-century sculptures.

Those interested in seeing the interiors, need to take the ticket that includes the guided tour to the itineraries and also access (without a guide) to the rest of the Doge’s Palace. The ticket must be picked up at Doge’s Palace This reservation is made through an agency authorized by Coop Codess Pierreci, official licensee of Venice Museums. Reservations must be made with a minimum of 1 day notice.

Pauly & C. (Compagnia Venezia Murano)

We were fortunate enought to be able to visit  this Venetian company that produces glass art, most notably Roman murrine, mosaics and chandeliers. There, we saw the demonstration as to how stained glass is made (not painting glass after the product is ready).

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Enterance to Pauly

We also got to go around the store and see the display. My… they were mind blowing, mind bogling, awesome, and extemely expensive. A pair of wine glass cost Rs 14,000 and more. We were not allowed to take pics in the store—copyright issues 😦

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Over the centuries the malleability of glass has led to the development of different production techniques. They remain the techniques of true craftsmen, the pieces handmade by the master glassblowers of Murano.

St Mark’s Campanile

St Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica is located in the Piazza San Marco. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

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St Mark’s Campanile

The tower is 98.6 metres (323 ft) tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark’s Square, near the front side of the basilica. It has a simple form, the bulk of which is a fluted brick square shaft, 12 metres (39 ft) wide on each side and 50 metres (160 ft) tall, above which is a loggia surrounding the belfry, housing five bells.

The top of the tower is the best way to view Venice. The cost to take the elevator to go to the top is 8 Euros a person. There was a long queue and 8 Euros is a steep price. The belfry is topped by a cube, alternate faces of which show the Lion of St. Mark and the female representation of Venie. The tower is capped by a pyramidal spire, at the top of which sits a golden weathervane in the form of the archangel Gabriel.

The campanile reached its present form in 1514. The current tower was reconstructed in its present form in 1912 after the collapse of 1902. The tower is currently undergoing structural repairs in order to halt its subsidence.

St. Mark’s Basilica

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is commonly known as Saint Mark’s Basilica. It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice, connected to the Doge’s Palace.

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Originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city’s cathedral since 1807, when it became the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice.

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In the upper register, from the top of ogee arches, statues of Theological and Cardinal Virtues, four Warrior Saints, Constantine, Demetrius, George, Theodosius and St Mark[ watch over the city. Above the large central window of the façade, under St Mark, the Winged Lion (his symbol) holds the book quoting “Peace to you Mark my evangelist”.

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In the lunettes of the lateral ogee arches are four gilded mosaics renewed in the 17th century. In the center of the balcony the Greek Horses face the square.

The Clock tower:

It comprises a tower, which contains the clock, and lower buildings on each side. The lower two floors of the tower make a monumental archway into the main street of the city, the Merceria, which linked the political and religious centre (the Piazza) with the commercial and financial centre (the Rialto).

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The clock is in blue and gold. It is inside a circle of marble engraved with the 24 hours of the day in Roman numerals. A golden pointer with an image of the sun moves round indicating the hour of the day. Within the marble circle beneath the sun pointer are the signs of the zodiac in gold (original from the 1490s), which show the position of the sun in the zodiac.

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The winged lion of Venice with the open book, with a blue background with gold stars. The symbol of St Mark, a winged lion armed with a sword, became the city’s emblem. It is a simple symbol to represent civil virtues, strength and courage.

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Below is the statues of the seated Virgin Mary and Child. On either side are two blue panels showing the time: the hour on the left (in Roman numerals) and the minutes on the right (in Arabic numerals).

Piazza San Marco:

After seeing these sights, we spend some time at the Piazza San Marco, commonly called the St. Marks Square. It is considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful squares with its boutiques, traditional cafes, and historic buildings around it.

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Besides being filled with people Piazza San Marco is also full of pigeons. Pigeons have long been a problem in the square. The pigeons have caused much damage to the delicate mosaics on St. Mark’s Basilicia and to other buildings around the piazza. So, recently the city passed a law that banned the feeding of these birds. Several attempts have been made to control the pigeon population but have not been even slightly successful.

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Aishwarya’s mom had a piece of bread/cake with her. Soumya made small pellets of it and tried to lure the pegions. She was so fascinated by this… pigeon lady 🙂

 Random Snapshots:

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 After spending a few hours on the islands, looked around one last time, trying to capture the beauty in the human memory. Walked back to the location pointed out by our tour manager so that we were on time for the water taxi!!

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4 Responses

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