Italy 2012, continued
Marble Sign next to Convent Door
We’d been reading about the Acqua Alta — high water — that had flooded Venice this year, and seen the photos of tourists wading up to their knees in San Marco plaza, so we decided to stay a while longer in Padua to do some shopping. That would have been a great idea, but it was All Saints Day, November 1st, and most all of the shops were closed.
So we stopped and listened to some street musicians, had a sweet at a fancy cafe, then walked back home. . . in the drizzle, packed up and headed to the train station, where we grabbed some lunch and caught a train. There was some discussion about that, as the train that was supposed to be on our track wasn’t, yet there was one on the track behind us and everyone seemed to be going over there. Of course we can’t understand the announcements over the garbled loud speaker, although we pretend to listen and try to catch something, anything, of what was said. In the end, we boarded the train behind us and hoped to play Dumb Americans if it didn’t work out.
Venice Train Station. Notice the woman leaning over taking a drink? She’s wearing rubber boots that go to her knee. Nearly all the “real” Venetians had some of those on. We queued up for the vaparetto pass (long lines) avoiding the few puddles that were on the pavement, and bought ourselves a 3-day pass.
We caught a vaparetto down the Grand Canal to our stop at Ca’ D’Oro , and then a short-didn’t-get-too-lost walk to our hotel.
Hotel Alla Vite Dorata, Cannaregio, Venice, Italy
Looking out to the small side canal from the breakfast room.
We checked in, dropped the bags, and like true web addicts, checked to see if we could get on the internet–PERFECT! Happy, we went out again.
We could see evidence of high water: the elevated walkways, puddles, damp pavement, and the vino guy sweeping out his shop (notice the soggy bottoms of his barrels). Apparently Cannaregio has less high water than San Marco, and in addition, the hotel was up two steps, and we found out later that this was done expressly to cut down on high water problems. We watched people bringing empty bottles to this shop, then taking away filled ones. Maybe that’s one way they get their wine?
We are pretty happy to be here: Venice is familiar and it’s not raining, even a bit of blue sky. This was just down the street from our little five-room hotel.
We walked down the shopping street for a while and found a quilt shop–unbelievable prices, so I didn’t buy any fabric, but it was still fun to see.
We saw a lot of these, and remembered the Guido Brunetti novel where these purse sellers figured prominently into the plot line.
Several street merchants sold these glowing lights; this shot was taken on our return home.
True Venetians. The city is mostly overrun with tourists like ourselves, and those who live and work in Venice are dwindling. There was just enough language that we could communicate with so we understood that they were residents. They obliged me with a photo at our vaparetto stop.
Finally we are here. Finally we were on a boat headed down the Grand Canal. The sun was behind us, making the water dark and lighting up the buildings in front of us, and yes, the Rialto Bridge is still here. Everything is still here, and it feels lovely to be out on the vaparetto taking in the sights. Dave and I can’t stop grinning like the pair of happy tourists that we are.
Rialto Fish, and sometimes, Produce Market.
I’m always in love with the hues and rich burnished colors of the buildings, as well as the interesting shapes of the windows, the tiny patios and big balconies, the rich heritage of Venice. I don’t think you go to Venice to see something new; it’s always about the old, and perhaps the art and the food. But always always it’s about the Grand Canal and the water.
Wouldn’t this little glassed-in room be a great place for a study? Although you might not ever get any work done because of looking out the window constantly.
The wooden span of the Accademia Bridge.
Detail at top of building as we round the corner to see San Marco Square and the Doges Palace (below).
We are headed one stop further away from San Marcos — down to San Zaccharia.
We cannot believe the crush of tourists everywhere. We’ve been several times to this city — from December over the Christmas holidays to June in mid-summer — but we’ve never seen it this bad. We also had a hard time getting rooms in a hotel and we did this four months from departure date. Someone in the paper shop later that night finally explained to us that all the countries that are Catholic have these days off from school and work, so everyone took a weekend holiday. . . to Venice.
We remembered how to get to this church, San Zaccharia, for I wanted to see the Bellini Altarpiece. They’ve improved it with a light (.50 euro) and I gladly contribute as it’s easier to see. My photo was a bit blurry, even with the light, so here’s one from the web:
Across the courtyard, a shop selling soaps.
We walk on, headed to the torrone shop. The best kind ever is purchased here, in Venice, and it doesn’t really keep. I did bring some home in my suitcase, and it was all gone within a few weeks after being home.
I love how this gondoliers is pushing off of the post with his foot; many of them use such resources to keep the boats from jostling or hitting each other.
See that golden sign up there that says “Per Rialto?” We learned to follow these toward our destination as we wended our way through the labyrinthian Venetian streets. Yes, we had a map, and sometimes it even helped. Mostly you accept that getting lost is part of the experience.
I love the small shrines tucked into the walls, and I determined I would try to photograph more of them on this trip. Notice the small door with the barely visible coin slot underneath. Coins for alms, for an extra miracle?
We’ve arrived with the thirty billion other tourists at San Marco square at twilight. The pink light made the marble glow.
It is a lovely evening.
We linger in San Marcos plaza, watching the street vendors pitch the toy of the moment: a whirring, spinning light which they launch high up into the air–a flying globe of wonder, which drops back down to the plaza, sometimes where it was supposed to. The bells begin to chime and we are surround by the voices of the crowd, the pealing sounds from the bellower, the excitement that everyone feels for being out in the beautiful twilight, in beautiful Venice.
We start walking toward home, up and over and avoid the tourists. It’s made a little more difficult by the presence of the aqua alta walkways that go right up the middle of the “street,” cutting down the available walking space. And of course, we have to stop for pictures like this one.
Dinner Stop. And yes they had a menu in seven different languages, but we are near San Marco, so expect this.
This was the best part of the meal: a moderately delicious bowl of minestrone. And the waiter spoke English to us and the two other American couples in this place. I’m pretty sure the Italians come much later, if at all, to these touristy spots.
After dinner, more winding ways back to our hotel. I have to say it feels like a big party out here, with lots of people, lights in the shops, action everywhere. We stop at Il Papiro, a favorite paper shop of ours, then push on. We found another shop, Paolo Olbi. That’s Mr. Olbi up there, wrapping up the purchased folios for me to carry home to America. I rather like this shop–better than Il Paprio, I have to say.
A shrine with the face worn off, just under the Rialto Bridge.
Where the gondoliers shop?
The view from Rialto Bridge at night, looking San Marco direction.
When we see this beautifully lit Murano glass chandelier, we recognize where we are–two more turns and we are home to our hotel.
We let ourselves in with our key, and there’s another Murano light in our hallway. We check our emails, get ready for bed, which includes pulling the shutters on the window slightly shut, and head to bed. The only unfortunate thing in this nearly perfect hotel are the pillows: one is a slab of foam about the size of a bread box and the other is longish pillar of foam about 5″ in diameter. There were some more regular-looking pillows but they had fancy pillowcases on them, so I thought they were decorative. It’s when you travel you realize how much you like your own bed, your own pillows, and your own home. But it is grand to be in Venice!