Our full day in Venice was EXTREMELY full. We gathered early in the lobby of our hotel after breakfast and then headed to our personal water taxi for a trip to Murano Island. It was quite foggy that morning, but in its own way, it made the trip more enchanting.
Murano Island is known for glass blowing. After a demonstration, we were shown some of the studio’s signature pieces and then browsed the showroom. Many of the tea and coffee sets included gold as part of the glass and were just beautiful. I did see a very modern blown glass burro that we both thought was quite whimsical but at 33,000 euros, we didn’t think it was THAT cute.
Then we headed by boat for St. Mark’s Square or Piazza San Marco in Italian. The fog had lifted and the scenery was beautiful. We were met by our local guide for a tour of the immediate area including square and the Doge Palace.
The Doge Palace is built in Venetian Gothic style and one of the main landmarks of the city. It was the residence of the Doge of Venice who was the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice. The golden staircase is beyond describing and hopefully my pictures will help. The entire palace and the prison which includes the famous Bridge of Sighs was very interesting.
The Bridge of Sighs is beautiful from the outside, but from the inside, it was the last view by prisoners of the outside world…thus the name, Bridge of Sighs.
After our tour, we went to lunch with one of the other couples on the tour and had a fabulous meal… did you expect something else? Then we headed back to meet up with the group again in St. Mark’s Square to get organized for our gondola ride, which was an option on our tour. Apparently, they had to set us up by weight and size (REALLY?) as to who would go with who on each gondola. They even had specific seats for us to sit in so we could balance the gondola! So we were paired up with 2 other couples and off we went down the canals of Venice.
A singing guide is optional and was not included in our ride, however, the gondola behind us had a singing guide. Since we were all very close together and the sound was echoing off the buildings, especially in the very narrow canals, we had the pleasure of enjoying what they paid extra for.
After some time in the “back roads” we came out on the Grand Canal, which is wide and beautiful. It really was a fun ride and something to be done at least once.
From here Giuseppe said we could either walk back to the hotel or he’d arrange for a water taxi. We heard about how everyone gets lost in Venice, but with a map in hand, we decided that would be part of our adventure. Before we left, though, Jay asked our local tour guide how long it would take for us to walk back. Her answer was pretty funny. She said for her… 30 minutes. And then after eyeing us up and down, she said that for us….an hour 15 minutes. We never were quite sure if she thought we would get lost, or if she thought we'd want to browse the shops on the way OR if we were so out of shape that it would just take us longer. But with map in hand, and not realizing that every street was NOT on the map, we headed out to find our way back to the hotel.
There were a ton of shops to browse and the ones selling the masks for the Carnival were amazing. But as we walked, we had our eye set on signs to take us to the famous Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto. That would be our first landmark to reach on our way trying not to get lost. Well, for the most part, there were engraved signs on the buildings saying “Pointe di Rialto” with arrows pointing the way, but every once in a while, we’d miss a sign and soon find ourselves going up a sidewalk with no exit except to swim to the next sidewalk. So back track we would and eventually we’d find another sign.
We did finally get there and the bridge was beautiful, as was the Grand Canal that it crossed. It’s one of 4 oldest bridges that cross the Grand Canal built in 1591!
Having crossed the bridge, our next landmark was a piazza that was down the Grand Canal from our hotel. If we found that, it was one more bridge to cross and we’d be back. Well, this one wasn’t as easy to find. We zigged and zagged and more than once, we had no idea where we were, but we kept walking in what we thought was the generally correct direction. Our travels took us to some wonderful places including an open area in front of a church where a woman was playing classical music on a cello. What a wonderful unexpected find!
We did eventually make it back. Giuseppe was in the lobby and although he didn’t admit it, I think he was quietly checking off who returned to be sure none of us were still lost out there.
The rest of the evening was on our own, so we opted to rest a while and then head out to dinner. We found a beautiful restaurant right on a piazza close by and had a wonderful dinner outside. And to our surprise, about half way through, the same lady with the cello showed up there and we were serenaded during our dinner.
Venice was fun and a place I would enjoy going back to. But tomorrow…. We are heading even further north to the lakes region of Italy.