We began the day by taking a walking tour of St. Mark’s Basilica. It was designed to incorporate a combination of both Roman Catholic and Orthodox Greek traditions. St. Mark’s relics are buried in the Basilica. In many ways it was as elegant as the Sistine Chapel. It was interesting to note that the artwork was not hand painted, but rather intricate mosaic tiles and 24-carat gold leaf tiles. Could have spent a great deal of time here, but there was so much to see, that we had to move along.
Venice is known for its delicate glass beads and lace work. They were traded for goods back in the 1500’s when Venice was a huge trading port. We had the opportunity to go into a Murano glass factory, which was a real treat.
A master glass blower worked his magic and created a bowl as well as a beautiful horse sculpture. I am a thimble collector and I was determined to find a Murano thimble on this adventure to Italy. Sure enough they had one! Cost a pretty penny or should I say Euro, but well worth it.
From here we boarded another boat and headed for the island of Burano, known for its lace. This island was much different than the larger Venice, as it was tranquil and very colorful. Each house was painted a different color with a cloth over the front door to let air in. Many connecting bridges and leaning towers completed the experience. We purchased some beautiful lace bookmarks.
Our day ended with an amazing sunset and 12, 704 step.
What a city! No movie, book, painting, or even picture can prepare you for this magical adventure. And to think we had two days here! This was truly a top highlight of the trip. Venice is the source of the Tiber River and it runs all the way down to Rome. Venice is really a group of over 100 islands. Many are connected by bridges and transportation is by water taxi or the touristy gondola. We did lots of walking along narrow paths and over walking bridges.
We began our journey via water taxi to get a feel for the big island of Venice then took a gondola ride through several smaller streets. You were able to see the decay and sinking of homes up close. As many as 3 and 4 steps to front doors were underwater. Building foundations themselves sit atop thousands of narrow poles set close together and sunk into the water. The mud settles around the poles thus ‘cementing’ them in place on the murky bottom.
Gondoliers used long poles and their bodies to guide the long boats through the narrow canals/streets. Did you know that gondolas cannot roll? Comforting thought! We were serenaded by a wonderful singer and accordionist. Trafalger did a nice job of preparing this part of the tour. We would be on our own the next day, so the overview was nice.
Cruising along the Grand Canal and going under the famous Rialto Bridge was an adventure in itself. The Canal is lined with upscale eateries and grand palaces. Rick Steves’ says in his Pocket Travel book that Venice is “Europe’s best preserved medieval city–slowly rotting.
A funny site we saw was that church towers were all leaning because of their weight. A silt bottom isn’t exactly a sturdy foundation for a tall narrow tower! This brought us to the end of Day 1 in Venice and we couldn’t wait for the next morning to take off on our own and explore these amazing islands.
Our trip is half over, but there is much more to share with you. Finish the series; you won’t be disappointed!