Venice - Part 1
I've spent a lot of holidays in Italy (used to go out with an Italian and had lots of Italian friends), including many visits to Milan, the Dolomites, Sardinia, Sicily, Rome, Adriatic Coast, Liguria, Genoa, Turin, Florence and Tuscany and to a lot of Italian weddings (4) but never to Venice....it's been one of those places I've wanted to go for a long time.
Two friends that I met in Japan last year, and I decided to go...in the end only 2 of us managed to go and the third was sorely missed but we had a great time anyway.
What can one say about Venice - it certainly has to be seen to be believed..... medieval buildings built on water, still standing 400 years later.....but at it's busiest it also seems somewhat like a giant theme park. It's a photographers paradise, an inspiration and an enigma!
I arrived by train from Milan where I had spent the night with friends, hopped on a vaporetta (water bus), the wrong vaporetta as it turns out and thought I was heading for my first trip down the Grand Canal to meet the key holder to our apartment. As it was I headed the other way round Venice, via the giant multi-storey car park, the cruise liner terminal and the outer islands before finally arriving in Piazza San Marco.
Our apartment was just 5 minutes from the square, with a fabulous wooden roof terrace known as an altana with a view over the campanile of San Marco and a canal below often filled with gondolas, gondolas full of accordionists and singers alongside the prerequisite tourists.....the guidebooks suggest that there are only about 400 gondolas left in Venice, in the 18th century there were over 10000 and Peggy Guggenheim, a long term resident of Venice, is known for being the last resident to have her own private gondola......and at one point 22 of them were in the canal below our roof terrace!
The first afternoon we wandered around San Marco and towards the Grand Canal and the Rialto....the most touristy of all of Venice, the places the cruisers see in their 4 hour stop off in Venice....but also spectacular. My first view of the Grand Canal just blew my mind - imagine (apart from the water taxis and vaporettas) the same scene today as 400 hundred years ago - the same buildings, the gondolas, the sheer scale of the original "super highway".
After dark the city is just as magical, as we discovered that first evening, exploring on foot....
The following day we headed to the islands of Burano (lace making) and Murano (glass making) but more of that to come!