Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Venice, take 3

A week ago Monday, we boarded the ferrying Rovinj at 6:30 am for the 3+ hour ferry ride from Rovinj to Venice.  We were among the few using this as a means of moving to Venice. There were literally hundreds of others using it as a day trip. 3+ hours over, 3+ hours back and 3 back to back tour options for the 7 hours of time in Venice. Venice is well worth seeing even if only for a day, but somehow it is mind-boggling to seriously consider that approach.

Fishing boat returning home as our ferry departs Rovinj for Venice
We were in Venice for 5+ days.  We stayed in a small B&B in Canneregio (a bit off the main tourist route). Unfortunately we arrived at an unstaffed vaporetto (water bus) stop with no Euros to buy tickets.  So we hauled our bags up and down way too many bridges as we searched for an ATM and then for another convenient vaporetto stop. 

Our temporary home- fortunately there is no bridge to cross for the main entrance.
Our room is on the lower right.
It can be very hot in Venice in August (and it was).  It can be very crowded in Venice in August (and it was.)  Still, while it was in the 90's it was less humid than we expected and there was often a well-appreciated little breeze. The crowds weren't a problem either. First we weren't doing all the requisite tourist sights (we've done them a couple times) and when we did decide to revisit Basilica San Marco, we learned it is easy to get reservations.

Rialto Bridge with Gondola Passing Under...
it looks peaceful (but it's a rare moment)
Our plan was to wander the lesser visited parts of Venice and visit Padua and Verona. Castello and Cannaregio surround San Marco and the touristy San Marco Square and Rialto Bridge areas. It was busy along the Grand Canal but as you stroll away from the canal there are quiet neighborhoods, fine little trattorias (with good food & wine) and wonderful gelato shops.  Who needs more?

We had planned to visit Verona and Padua, but our host at the B&B advised us to enjoy some quieter spots, Palestria & Vicenza. Forget the fake Romeo & Juliet balcony. Forget trying to take in an opera that starts at 9pm (in a place that is more than an hour train ride from Venice). Relax.

So what did we do for 5 days?  We tried to see Venice more as locals.  We wandered neighborhoods we'd never seen before. We took the vaporetto to the Lido (an island that protects Venice a bit like a breakwater and serves as the resort and beach area).  From the Lido we took a bus which took a ferry to the island of Palestrina.  Palestrina is where the fishermen live and work.  The exposed side of the island is all beach (with coarse sand). The other side is lined with small villages with fishing boats (and small yachts.)

Fishing boats on Palestrina

Bounty from the Fishing Ristorante Da Nane in San Pietro.  Those round little calamari were the sweetest ever!

Our bus back to the Lido, on the ferry from Palestrina
On our first trip to Venice we had visited Murano (noted for its glass works) and Torcello where we had lunch. Torcello predates Venice. It has two ancient churches (one from the 5th century and one from the 11th century), a couple fine restaurants and not much else other than nature reserves and paths.  Nicely rural.  We repeated the day this year, bought a little jewelry on Murano and had a very nice lunch at Villa 600 on Torcello—the spinach raviolis with salmon were outstanding, as was the Pieropan Soave--we didn't know soave could be that great!  The only way to Torcello is to stop at nearby Burano and catch yet another ferry over, hence we've included a photo from the Burano stop below as well.

Your basic farm stand from a canal boat on Murano
A very fine soave at Villa 600 on Torcello
11/12C Church of Santa Fosca on Torcello
Colorful Burano (island know for colorful houses & lace)

Cathedral of Vicenza with dome by Palladio

We also made a day trip to Vicenza by train… Vicenza is noted for it's wealth of palaces & palatial buildings by Palladio (early 16C architect).  While you may not recognize the name, Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's mansion) and the White House feature Palladian architecture.
An anonymous building aspiring to be
a great Palladian Palace...but only from the front.

   The Palazzo Chiericati is one of Palladio's major works.
Palazzo Chiericati is noted for it's this case Pat makes a "cameo" appearance.
This is the Olympic Theater. Behind the three doors are full 3D-street scenes,
easy for the audience to see, but hard to capture in a photo...

We also enjoyed the amazing mosaics in Basilica San Marco.  Pat couldn't resist mimicking the many other visitors in sneaking a couple photos (despite the many admonitions to the contrary.) The view over Piazza San Marco from the top of the Basilica is well worth the effort to climb the steep steps.  We were surprised at how few pigeons there are in the Piazza now…it could have something to do with steep fines for feeding the pigeons...

Central Mosaic from Inside Basilica San Marco.  Yep, there is a lot of gold there...

View of Clock Tower from the balcony of San Marco, with a Tourist in front...
The rest of the time, we wandered among the charming old buildings, bridges, canals and, yes, shops.  …finding way too many spots just screaming to have their pictures taken.  And searching out the next gelato or wine stop, …

Cute (& common) doorbells & mailslot

Azerbaijan Pavilion for the Biennale Art Exposition

The following are shots of store window displays...

Carnivale Masks are popular
Carnivale costumes are also popular displays...I didn't seen anyone buying them though...
Murano Glass figurines are equally popular, but I only saw one orchestra...
And of course this case a string of marshmallow.
A curiosity, but not very tempting. 
And here are shots of typical gondola rides (which start at around 90€ or approx. $120!)
Don't expect a something very private...
But gondolas do offer some great photo ops

Our three Venice visits have been spaced 10 years apart,1993, 2003 and 2013. Guess we'll be back in 2023...and the Rialto will still be a wondrous sight.

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