Our Blog - Venice - April 2008

In April we took a 4 day trip to Venice, which is truly a unique city. There are as many canals, gondolas and small bridges as you might imagine but the relative isolation from the rest of the world despite just being off the cost of Italy was surprising. It was a great trip with good food and generally nice weather.

Susan is standing in front of St. Mark's Basilica in San Marco Piazza. San Marco's Piazza is the main square in Venice and is surrounded by a number of famous buildings. Perhaps the most famous is the Basilica, which was consecrated in the year 1094. Pictures are not allowed in the interior, but the inside is incredibly ornate.

Another building in San Marco's Piazza is the bell tower. Standing over 300 feet, the tower is one of the major symbols of Venice and can be seen from everywhere on the island. The bell tower was built in 1514, but collapsed in 1902, and was rebuilt in its present form in 1912. For a fee you can take an elevator to the top of the tower and get a great view of the entire city with all of the surrounding islands.

Another picture of Susan, this time in front of one of the three large buildings that make up three sides of the square. These buildings are now primarily museums and were built in different periods, from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

St. Mark's clocktower is the city's most important clock and sits near the Basilica in the Piazza. It was built in the late 1400's to show the wealth of the city. It has multiple dials depicting the hours, the twelve signs of the zodiac and the phases of the moon and sun.

The Doge's Palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice. It was built primarily in the 1300's and in addition to housing the Doge it also housed the political institutions of the city. While the Doge was in theory the leader of Venice he had little real power as the power resided with the aristocrats.

Venice is made up of multiple islands that surround the primary island where San Marco's Piazza. etc. sit. Here is one of the smaller islands with one of the may churches in the city in the foreground.

One of the first things we did upon arriving in Venice was to take a gondola ride. It was certainly not cheap, 80 euros for 45 minutes, but it was a nice way to see a lot of the buildings in the way most people travelled in Venice years ago.

The most famous bridge to crosses the grand canal is the Rialto bridge. It was built in the late 1500's and has three walkways and is lined with shops that sell linens, jewelry, glass and other tourist items. It is a good spot to get a nice view of the grand canal.

While most of the gondola ride was spent on the smaller canals, we were on the Grand Canal for a few minutes. Lining the Grand Canal are palaces from the 16th through 19th century, that were the residences of powerful and wealthy Venetians.

Gondola rides are not solitary excursions down Venice's little byways. They are more like a continual rush hour with intermittent traffic jams. With the nice weather we had there were gondolas all over the place with tourists from all over the world.

Without a doubt all gondoliers are required to take pictures of their passengers, although few get such an attractive couple like you see here.

Here is another view of some of the palaces on the Grand Canal in their yellow, pink and white colors. In the background to the left you can see the Rialto bridge.

Once again, another palace, however this one is in particularly good shape. It was not unusual to see a splendid palace that had seen better days, but this was not one of them.

Between the Doge Palace and the Basilica is the small entrance

Above the main door to the Basilica are three bas-relief paintings. The oldest of the three dates from the 1300's while the newest is from the 1800's.

We took trips to two of the outlying islands of Venice, the one pictured here is best known for its bright white church that sits right on the water.

A different view of the Doge Palace and the Bell tower, this time from the perspective of the island in the preceding picture.

The Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo is one of the largest churches in Venice. It is unusual for Venice as it is has a large brick edifice. The church was completed in 1430.

Connected to the church is a hospital in gleaming marble. Built in the late 1400's it was originally home to a Venetian religious organization.

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