Venice Hotels Articles

August 8, 2010

Travel Cl;ub – Venezia

Filed under: Venice Restaurants — Tags: , , , , , — nevice @ 12:12 pm

   The little steamer coughed its way round the headland, onto a narrow channel that opens out into the breathtaking Bay of Venice.  Spread out like a Caneletto painting.  To the left and right are the sea walls and artificail islands which protect the island/city from from the Adriatic sea especially when the Sirocco winds blow.

  It was mid-day and the sun was shining brilliantly; making us screw our eyes against its brightness.  But even the glare could not dampen our enthusiasm as we scrutinised the horizon, for what would be for many of us , our first glimpse of that fabulous city – The Queen of the Adriatic.

  The lagoon, itself, is lined with sleeper-like post sunk into the sea bed, separating the bay into lanes between which a multitude of small crafts navigate their way to and fro.  They ply their trade oblivious to, we, tourists casting us only a cursory glance.  After all Venice is home to them, and they have seen those like us many times before.

  Shimmering through the wavering illusion of the rising heat, the Doge’s Palace, immidiately comes into focus.  Its cappuccino coloured marble facade is like a jewel reflecting in the morning sun.  Then the magnificent Basilica of St. George is most recognisable, guarding the entrance to the Grand Canal itself.  It was built in the fifteen century in thanks-giving for the relief from a plague which had decimated the city.  Gondolas and ferry boats scurrying about like little ants, while cruize liners make one of their compulsory stops along side military vessels, all anchored well away from St. Mark’s square.  Along the landing stages tourist can be seen thronging the many stalls or surrounding the pavement artists or haggling with gondoliers, beside thier gently bobbing crafts.

  Leaving our ferry, we immidiatel head for the Doge’s palace, and of course the magnificent St. Mark’s square with equally famous bell tower.  The original towel collapsed many years ago but had to re-built.  Interuptions and distractions froliferate as we walk along the Riva Dei Sciavoni ( as the esplanade is called ).  It is our turn to accosted by the many stall holder,  as we wnd our way through the tight narrow streets, jam-packed with shops of all descriptions – shoppers paradise.  As we cross over the third bride we come to the infamous Bridge of Sighs.  It is reputed that over this small span, which links the Doge’s palace to the city prison, prisoners caught their last glimpse of the outside world before their incarceration.  In actual fact, very few people were ever sent to its sombre dungeons.  But legends are prompted by hearsay and so become fact. The Dode’s Palace, which is also the seat of government in the past and now, houses a fine museum and is worth a visit.

  Rounding the next corner we enter the main Piazza of St. Mark.  Our eyes dart about.  It is almost too much to take in.  On the left is the famous Cafe Florian with its open air orchestra inviting us to rest for a while and enjoy a coffee and cake.  Check the prices first.  To our right is the magnificent Basilica of St. Mark, its arched doors, and facade covered by exquiste mosaics.  Its cupolas and spires showing an oriental influence  from the city’s dealing in the spice trade, in days gone by when she ruled the eastern mediterranean.  On the veranda, above the doors, are the famous status of the four horses, once stolen by Napoleon when he conquered Venice;  but returned after his final defeat.

  Now the bell tower, standing like a solitary sentinel in the middle of the square imposing its Obelisk presence over the whole square.  A long wair and a long climb is rewarded by an enchanting view of Venice rooftops cobwebbed by the modern curse of TV ariels.  In the square itself tourists abound, feeding the pigeons and feeding themselves.  This is the haven of the alfresco diner.  The pigeon being the only hazard!

  To find the Rialto Bridge we are told to follow the arrows on the walls at each end of each street.  Ask for fuirther direction and you will be answered by almost any other language but Italian. The streets are now becoming very narrow; with shops, cafes and restaurants of every  description huddled to-gether with the tourists even squeezed closer to-gether.  Venice is not so big, and soon we push our way out of a side street and there before our eyes is the Rialto bridge.  It separates the Tourist Venice from the quieter side which is almost in a time warp. Once again, we stop and take in the scene.  Gondolas decked out with bunting; gondoliers in quasi sailor’s attire; ice cream parlours, the canal side cafes with the smell of fresh ground coffee percolating the air, bars offering cool beer to quench our warm parched throats.  A seat sounds delicious but unless youn really are tired try standing at the bar as the locals do; it is much cheaper. 

  Somewhat refreshed , we mount the bridge.  The bridge is flanked on either sides by a mass of shops and stalls; selling tourist items, jewelery, leather goods, fruit market and open air baking stalls.  And the big thrill is finding the smaller piazzas with its dominating church, walls adorned with frescos by some lesser known artists.  Walk on up to the top of Venice, where there is a railway station and  land bridge to the mainland.  We can now, catch a water bus and have leisurely sail back down the Grand Canal, wondering at the wealth there must have been in Venice by virtue of the magnificent palaces and Cathedrals that run along the canal banks.

Other attractions?  Well there are three main islands in the lagoon which you can visit by the water-bus service, or by one of the locally organised tours which are not too expensive and good value.

MURANO:- Where we can see the world renown glass blowers at work. You can buy direct from the factory shop.

BURANO:- Where local women can be seen sitting outside their homes, fashoning beautiful lace-work for sale.  And they don’t mind being watched as they work.

 

TORCELLO:- An abandoned island that was the first inhabited island to which the early Venitians fled  when the longobard invaders came after the fall of Rome. Once again abandoned because of the mosquitos in the island.  But one benefit of the war; the americans came and thanks to them the mararia mosquito was wiped out.The island is over a thousand years old and still has standing, a cathedral and a small museum with early Venitian artifacts.  It also boasts Cipriani’s restaurant which was visited by Winston Churchhill on one of his painting excursions.      

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