Monday, March 17, 2008
Venice (Venezia) Italy... last day??
With the rest of the traveling we will be doing this may be my last full day in Venice. So, I decided not to waste a minute of it! I got up at 8:00am, intending to be at San Marco Square by 9:00am, however I ran a little bit behind. First, I had the hardest time falling asleep last night and the last time I looked at a clock it was 1:30am, so it was hard to wake up. Second, I (of course) got lost!! I headed out the door at 9:00am after a nice breakfast and made it to the Rialto bridge without getting lost... not even once!! I was so proud. However, after that I spent the next 45 minutes going every direction but the right one.
After getting over my fear of looking like a tourist (come on, I am one... right) I finally pulled out my map and held it while I walked. One guy did come up to me, after seeing that I had a map out, to tell me that he thought I was pretty and he walked to talk to me. Of course I ran!! However I made it safely to San Marco Square. I found that there was a pretty good line to get into the place I really, really wanted to see, the Basilica (aka church/cathedral) but it was a pretty fast moving line. I read some of the tour from the Rick Steve's book I bought about Venice and listened to one of the tour guides speaking English and I was inside in no time.
I took quite a few pictures of the outside of the church but I was not allowed to take any pictures of the inside of the church, but let me tell you, it was amazing!! The entire ceiling is made out of these little mosaic tiles and the sparkle even when the light is not shining on them. And the entire ceiling tells the story of the Bible. So pretty!! I also found out that Saint Mark's bones are buried in the church. You know, Mark, the guy who wrote the Book of Mark in the Bible. I am generally not one for rituals or whatnot in the church however being that close to someone who really chronicled the life of Jesus felt strangely good. There was a spot I could stop and pray so I did. That was nice as well.
After the church I went on a walking tour provided by my Rick Steve's book. I made a modification to the tour but overall it took me to some pretty fun places. First it took me outside the Basilica and around the backside of the Bridge of Sighs. There is a lot of myth and legend around the bridge but most of it is made up. Either way, still fun to see. The next stop was at the church of San Zaccaria. Here is where the bones of Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) are buried. Back in the day it was very prestigious to have mortal remains and they were thought to bring miracles to the faithful. I still find it so interesting that there are graves inside a church!! Also, the entire inside of the chapel is painted with the most beautiful artwork. Once again I was not to take pictures so there are no pictures of the inside. Take my word... very beautiful.
Then, I had the opportunity to go into the crypt of the church for 1 euro. Since I have never been inside a crypt I was willing to pay. I was able to tour a few rooms, see the original flooring of the church, and go into the crypt (which is generally flooded, however was only very damp when I was there). I have to say, it was creepy!! Being inside the crypt I felt completely out of place and I swear the hair on the back of my neck stood up!!
After leaving the crypt I followed the tour to the Riva, or the road along the river, and then went off the tour. I walked the entire length of the Riva and took a TON of pictures. I ended in a park with a lot of statues. It was a beautiful walk as the entire day was sunny and beautiful (right now its raining with thunder and lightening -- I tell you, God wants me to be here to see this. It has only rained when I am not to be outside)!! After my 30 minute hiatus from the tour I finished up by seeing the front side of the Bridge of Sighs.
There was a second walking tour that took me past all of the really fancy, really pricey stores and ended me right at the Rialto bridge, which is were I really needed to end up. It was only a little after noon and wasn't planning on meeting up with Britt until about 2pm so I figured I had plenty of time!
The first stop was at Harry's American Bar, which is reported to have many celerity guests. However, I didn't go in to find out for myself. Next I was able to walk by all of the really, really fancy stores and had a blast going in each one and checking everything out!!
After the browsing I made it to the Church of San Moise, which is one of Venice's oldest churchs as well as the perish church for the island. After more walking I made it to La Fenice (The Phoenix) Opera House. Being true to its name, it was built in 1792 and had a disastrous fire in 1996, which had to be completely restored.
Next stop was the Ponte de Verona, a bridge that the author of the book apparently really liked, I couldn't quite figure out why so I kept on moving! The next stop was Campo Manin with a statue of Daniele Manin who was a leader of Venice in the 1800's.
The next stop was my favorite!! Tucked away in a remote little area was the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. It was a spiral staircase built in 1499 as the external staircase of a castle. Most of the area was being restored but you could still see the staircase. It was beautiful!!
The next stop on the tour was a Theater and it ended at the Rialto Bridge, which I have crossed many times now. Once I got there I found, in the pages of my book, the option to continue the tour to the Frari Chuch... the one that is Andrea's church right by where I am staying!! I looked at my watch at it wasn't even 1:00pm yet so I had plenty of time to do the additional tour and it was perfect because with the tour and map I was able to NOT get lost!! Amazing!!
The additional part of the tour was not as good as the first... it took me to a Fish Market, down the busy tourist streets, and thru a couple of Campo's that I know well because I have stopped at them when I was lost!! But it ended me up somewhere that I knew and was able to finish the walk home map-free and with a big smile!! A shout of victory too!! I am learning the island!!
Once home I picked up Britt and we headed right back out for lunch. We went to the same restaurant that Andrea and I had gone to the first day I was here. I have only been there 2 times but I will soooooo miss that place when I am gone!! Andrea told me that he will bring me some of their food to Atlanta! I told him that if he does I will mail him all the Chips Ahoy cookies that he wants (he loves them and can't get them here)!!!
After eating lunch we went right back to San Marco's Square and I showed Britt around. There was absolutely no line to get into the Church so I made him tour it. Hehe! Hey, its free!! After that we went up the Bell Tower and was able to see all of Venice. It was 8 euros to go to the top but it was worth every one of those euros!! I have pictures that you must check out!!
It was a warm day, but not on the top of that tower... especially when the wind caught you just wrong!! We left the tower and walked back by all the expensive shops again. We stopped in a sweet store because I saw a treat that had my name written all over it!! And it was good!!! We tried to come home to get an extra jacket however we didn't have a key and no one else was home. I figured the next best this was alcohol so we went to the local watering hole in Campo Santa Margheritta. We each got a spritz however Britt doesn't like them so I had to drink them both!! Oh darn!!
By this time it was getting very, very cold outside so we walked to the grocery store to pick up some dinner (the same salad as last night... yummm!!) and luckily when we got back Andrea (the female... there is one Andrea who is female and one who is male -- most of the time has been spent with the male) was home to let us in!!
Both Britt and I were exhausted and it was only 6:30pm!! I made the dinner, which we barely ate before I took a shower. By the time I got out of the shower Britt had already gone to bed!!
I have been trying to upload the pictures from today but with the sheer number and with the storm outside cutting my internet access out, it is taking forever!! Hopefully it will be done soon because I am about to shut this computer down!!
Tomorrow morning Britt and I will be on the 8:45am fast train to Florence, Italy. We will spend most of the day there before heading down to Rome. We have a friend down there who will let us stay with them until Friday. Then the 3 of us will be going back to Verona for Easter!!
I will blog again when I have the chance!!