RTW 2011: Days 15-20

Venice: the city for lovers, as far as the phrase goes. The couples making out vigorously in a neighborhood park seemed to agree. I loved the classical architecture, the art, gelato stands on every corner, and most of all the use of boats instead of cars. As far as being romantic, you will have to go as far as you can away from Piazza San Marco to feel the romance of Venice. The swarms of tourists and tour groups in that area is suffocating.

Josh and I visited Venice at a leisurely pace. We picked one or two main places to go each day and spent the rest of our time wandering down the streets. We stayed in two hotels during our time in Venice, Albergo San Marco, and the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice Hotel. We were hoping to book the Hilton for the entire stay, and that would have been lovely, but it was fully booked for the beginning of our trip, so we stayed in the Albergo San Marco for the first half. In the Albergo we were hoping for a nice central location to explore from, which it was. Unfortunately, being so close to Piazza San Marco proved a mixed blessing. To find better prices on food we had to explore farther away from the Piazza. We also had some very loud people outside our window on several nights, and the bells of St. Marks and the Bell Tower both rang very loudly as a wake up call at 7 am each day. I would not stay there again.

As for the Hilton, I loved it. It is built in what used to be a flour mill. It was very large, had a rooftop swimming pool with an amazing view of Venice, and as Hilton Honors members we had access to an awesome lounge area. They served breakfast, snacks, tea, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts throughout the day. We spent several evenings playing cards while drinking tea and eating an unlimited amount of desserts.

To move around from place to place we decided to get a 7-day ferry pass. There were a lot of ferries running all over the islands all day. We used them and didn’t have any problems. There were several times when our ferry was very crowded and we had to stand in the crowd until it either thinned out or we reached our stop. We decided that riding in a gondola was overpriced. I don’t even know if it would be the romantic ride you might picture in your mind anyway, there are so many motor boats speeding by it would lose its peaceful “lost in time” charm before you even got in. We did see a lot of groups taking rides though, and it is still fun to see gondolas on the rivers.

On June 12th we found ourselves looking at a different picture in the Grand Canal than ferries and taxis. We saw every kind of paddle boat out and about getting ready for a regatta. We sat and watched all the boats go by for a long time.

The famous museums and sights that we visited were all over, but as I mentioned earlier, we only took in a couple each day, and as with all of Italy, there is always more to see.

We visited Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) on our first full day. First we went through the regular rooms, then we went on a Secret Itinerary tour. A guide took us into a back area of the palace where all of the documents were copied, then into the torture chamber and the prison area. She told us the story of the great escape of Giacomo Casanova, held in the Palazzo as a political prisoner. We even got back into the main rooms again by walking out of what looks on the outside like a piece of furniture.

On the following day we walked to the Navy Shipyard, which is closed to visitors but can still be seen through the gates. We wandered on from there are discovered a very nice large park and garden area.

On June 12th we visited Galleria dell’Academia. A lot of rooms were closed for renovation, but we still saw numerous works of art, including a painting of Oral Roberts with a beard (it’s not really him, but it sure does look like him)! After the Galleria we walked down to La Salute, but it was closed. Everyone was getting ready for the regatta on its steps, so we stopped and watched for a little while.

The next day we visited Murano and saw several glass artists at work, as well as touring the glass museum. There were several interesting glass sculptures around the island and many, many shops selling all kinds of Murano glass (and some selling Chinese glass, if the shop windows deriding these traitors are to be believed).

On the 14th we visited an exhibit in a church of Leonardo’s Machines, consisting of a lot of models based on his sketches. We both found it very interesting, and we were surprised by all the various experiments that Leonardo did and thought about. We also visited the Theater, which was very beautiful inside. It had burnt to the ground twice, and was rebuilt to the original design both times.

Venice is a beautiful city, and Josh and I both enjoyed our time there. We tried a variety of food while there and enjoyed ourselves. After all, we are lovers too.