Tag Archive | St. Mark’s

Our last day

Since our escape from Italy was a little more exhausting than we thought it would be, we are a little late getting this up .  But, here is a quick rundown of our final hours in Italy.

We wanted to get as much as we could out of our last full day in Italy, so our day was busy – but nothing like some of the earlier days of our trip.  Maybe we were just growing accustom to the slower pace that started in Monterosso.

We started our day with breakfast at the hotel, and then we started roaming the streets of Venice.  We had a general idea about what we wanted to see and get done, but unlike  Rome, we didn’t have any specific times we needed to be anywhere.  We started our morning with a 10 minute walk to Piazzale Roma so we could figure out our exit strategy.  At this point in the trip, I am not too worried about transportation details since for the most part everything has worked out. But, we wanted to do a test walk, since we would have to find our way out of the maze that is Venice in the dark at 5am. Our trip was successful, and we were able to see the Calatrava bridge – the most hated bridge in Venice. And it is the most hated for good reason – it is horrible.  In a modern city it would be a perfectly fine bridge, but for Venice it is out of place.

After that, we walked down to the Rialto market. We had heard about the market prior to our trip, but we weren’t really prepared for the massive size of the market.

After buying some berries and pistachios from the market, we started wandering the streets again. We didn’t have much of a goal – only that we wanted to eventually end up in St. Mark’s square – which we ultimately did.

St. Mark’s square was a mob scene.  Generally speaking, there were a lot of people (and pigeons), but primarily a very large line to enter the Basilica.  There was also a little left over water in the square from the night before.  This was our only indication of the issues that they have with water.  When it gets really high, which there were supposedly about 100 days of last year – they refer to it as acqua alta (high water).  Instead of standing in the line, we decided to hit one of the museum’s first.

In a nutshell the Correr Museum contained artifacts about the history of Venice.  It was interesting, but we passed through relatively quickly – with most of our attention paid to the armory, and some of the historical currency.

After the Correr we went into St. Mark’s Basilica.  Brief history lesson – the relics of St. Mark the evangelist were stolen from Alexandria in 828 and brought to Venice.  The winged lion of St. Mark is all over everything in Venice – including the flag.   Entry was free, but basically to see any of the more interesting components you paid for each item separately.  We elected to not do the separate items, and just look at the Basilica as a whole.  It was pretty impressive, but relative to St. Peter’s or the Duomo in Siena its most interesting trait was its mosaics.  After the Basilica we ventured next door to the Doge’s Palace.

The Doge’s palace (Doge = Ruling Duke of Venice) was pretty impressive, huge, and right next door to the Basilica of St. Mark.  Of particular interest were the Golden Staircase (Roof covered with 24k trim), the Hall of the Grand Council (housing the largest oil painting in the world), and the prison underneath the palace.

After this we resumed our wandering for a while, got some lunch and returned to the room to pack up for the next day.  We ventured back out after dark to get a look at the city lit up, took a shorter than expected vaporetto (water bus) tour, and had one last really good meal before heading back to the hotel and going to sleep.

The end is near

Today we made our way to Venice. I am very excited about heading over to Venice, but it is also our last stop – and it means that our trip is wrapping up.  Boo.

We took a 7:10 train out of Monterosso this morning. There were quite a few transfers – one of which was way stressful.  We only had about 5 minutes between stops, and to us inexperienced rail travelers, this was a bit closer than we would have liked. But in the end, it all worked out.  We had transfers all through the middle of Italy, with stops in La Spezia (the 5 minute connection), Pisa, and Florence before making our way to Venice.  It was especially hard to stop in Florence without being able to check things out – but hopefully we will make it back there some day.

Getting off the train in Venice was quite an experience. The view exiting the train station is so different from anything else we have seen so far in Italy.  Combine that with our giddiness from being finished with train travel, and  we already considered the day a success – and we hadn’t even had lunch yet.  It took us about 15 minutes to find the hotel, and luckily we could check in a little early.  We dropped off our bags and wandered out into the streets of Venice.  We started following signs to the Rialto Bridge, and Saint Mark’s square. We didn’t go in to any museums or basilicas today, but we may do that tomorrow.  Everything went great until it was time to head back.  That took a bit longer than expected, but we did eventually wind out way back.  We also kindof lucked out because there is a museum right next door to our hotel – so when we get close, in theory we can just follow the signs back to the hotel.  I think that tomorrows first order of business will be to get a good map.