Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Venice. Water, water, everywhere!

This is how the rich and famous live in Italy

Piazza di San Marco

Flat Stanley overlooking the harbor in Venice
We arrived in Venice on a drop-dead gorgeous day! But I was not prepared for the sheer beauty of the city and the total dependence on water! Everything is water in Venice and I kind of knew that but it is so in-your-face and THAT’S what I wasn’t prepared for.The sail-in to Venice is down the Bacino di San Marco and the Canale Della Guidecca and we sailed right by Piazza San Marco and the Palace of the Doges. Thousands and thousands of tourists and locals (it was a Sunday) thronged the Piazza. We could hardly wait to get in and get touring!

Venice and New York are the only two cities where we will overnight and this evening we will have a dinner at some restaurant ashore that Steve and Donna will pick out for their anniversary. But before that we have a tour—our tour gets back at 1745 and we meet the group at 1800 for the vaporetto ride into the heart of the city. It’s actually a boat shuttle that Princess has arranged but the boat itself is a vaporetto, or waterbus and it will deposit us four bridges from Piazza San Marco.

We began our tour with a gondola ride. While I’m glad we did it, there were six of us, a bit of a crowd in a gondola and it was quite hot, not exactly a romantic ride around Venice! From there we took a vaporetto to a cathedral; well, I don’t actually know if it’s a cathedral, but it’s a pretty big church, San Giorgio Maggiore, and I sort of think of all those really big churches as cathedrals. San Giorgio is pretty impressive on the inside especially because it has a lot of Tintoretto paintings, each about three or four meters high (10 to 13 feet). The outside is rather ordinary but more than made up for by the beautiful surroundings and the stunning inside. Especially considering what we saw the next day at the Basilica San Marco.

We have seen a lot of glass blowing demonstrations, but the tour of a glass factory on Murano was pretty special. Murano Island is the traditional place where Venetian glass is made; in fact it is the only place where it is allowed to be made, even now. Centuries ago the glass makers weren’t allowed to even leave the island; if they did, their hands were cut off! Nothing so draconian any more. Our little glass blower blew a vase for us in about five minutes (we were all sweating just watching him, I don’t know why he wasn’t just dripping sweat all over the glass!) and then followed up by making a horse in about 2 minutes. It was heat up the glass, pull a little bit here and push there and pull a bit more and voila, a beautiful rearing horse!
It was SO hot watching our wonderful glassblower!

Our glassblower with molten glass (NOT lead glass) before he made it into a vase.

Shaping the vase.

The beginning of the horse. He has to work quickly as it cannot be reheated.
The horse has front legs...

...and now gets back legs and a tail

Flat Stanley with some of the Murano Venetian glass art.

Then of course we had the obligatory—but you don’t HAVE to buy anything!—tour of the shop. It seemed that each of us had our very own salesman who followed us from room to room; there were about five showrooms: jewelry, glassware, more glassware, modern glass art, and traditional glass art. Our taste hasn’t changed, we unerringly went right for the art glass that was in the $15,000 range. No, we didn’t buy any. But I wanted to! They didn’t want us to take any pictures but they did let us take a few including one of Stanley in front of some of the art glass. I had wanted to get a glass necklace, but nothing really reached out to me. Randy really has a cheap date!

Dinner that night was the highlight so far of our trip. Steve and Donna found this charming little restaurant, Da Paolo, that was down a canal and over a bridge, next to an armory. The food was to die for, the atmosphere couldn’t be beaten, they had cold beer, and to top it all off, we got to watch the Navy ceremoniously lower the Italian flag at dusk. It was just so perfect and romantic and beautiful and any other superlative you’d care to throw around!

We walked back to the vaporetto in the dark down alleys that I wouldn’t be caught dead in in New York (or I would be dead if I walked down them!) to the Grand Canal and our shuttle home to get ready for the second day in Venice. It was not to be so nice.

One of many, many bridges over the many, many canals.

San Giorgio Maggiore exterior

And the interior

The altar
Even gondolas have stop lights!


  1. Thanks for taking me back to Venice with you. Such a marvelous place! I'm enjoying all your adventures!

  2. Be thankful you didn't follow our lead and have dinner at Harry's Bar.---Doug and Marty