Saturday, March 30, 2013

Europe Trips: Italy: An Italian Sojourn Part 6

In continuation to the previous blog, I pencil down a few more things from my list of must recommended things to do in Venice. The last but not the least is of course a walk around Venice – which is described further in detail.

5. Visit to Piazza San Marco:

Your visit would be incomplete without visit to Piazza San Marco which commemorates St. Mark, Venice’s Patron saint.
St Mark with Lion winged Angel
Piazza San Marco, the heart of Venice is dominated by 16th and 17th century arcaded buildings. It is dominated by Basilica di San Marco, the Campanile. The basilica was built to house the body of St. Mark, Venice’s patron saint. It is one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. 

Basilica and Campanile

Near the Piazza San Marco, you will also see Doge’s Palace or Palazzo Ducale – an opulent complex of state rooms, courtyards and corridors that was the seat of the Venetian government in the Republic’s heyday. The Doge's Palace has Venetian Gothic style architecture and looks absolutely spectacular on a bright sunny day.

Doge's Palace - view from Grand Canal
Doge's Palace - another view
The famous things to watch on the outside also include Ponte de Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) which leads across a canal to the prison cells.

We chose to hang out outside of San Marco and Doge’s Palace than visit it from inside and we wanted to soak in the atmosphere and rich scenery around it. Also we were well heeled from our earlier visits to St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and other museums, so gave the inside visit a miss. We invested the time that was saved to explore more of Venice by walk and water – the things which the city has been most famous for.

6. Venice in Walk – exploring the Calle’s, little shops:

The magic of Venice is captured best by its blue waters, busy and colourful life and historic buildings on both sides of the Grand Canal, the water waves and trails left by vaporetti’s and gondola’s criss crossing the waters. The rustic charm of this city is also underlined by the narrow alleys/lanes – called calle’s which will magically lead you from one piazza (or a square) to the other. 

As you enter these narrow calle’s, you will leave behind one scenic place, walk through a tunnel for 10 steps and emerge out to probably find a pristine church on one corner or a shop selling Venetian antiques, masks on the other. 

The island itself is not huge, so you can choose a route to walk around and do it comfortably. If you are looking to mark specific places to see while on this route, one recommendation is to walk from Piazzale Roma to St Marks Square and around (probably a 30 minute walk with stops). 

In between you can take your own detours to some of the places like the Venetian Ghetto or the narrowest Calle (which is just 53cm wide) called Calle Varisco. Do drop in all the small shops that sell everything from tourist souvenirs to handicrafts made out of Murano Glass or the very famous – Venetian Masks. 

We enjoyed the walk around the Venetian Ghettos - an area of Venice in which Jews were compelled to live under the Venetian Republic. It is still a center of Jewish life in the city. There are a couple of synagogues around as well. 

The fliers lying in our hotel room recommended us a couple of places in and around the hotel - mostly museums. But one small description that definitely raised our eyebrows and which still looked offbeat enough is a walk to the narrowest calle in Venice – Calle Varisco. We  lost our way a little back. To add to it, the map was not being exactly helpful, but still we weren’t disappointed to find this narrow alley connecting one part of the city to another. Ideally people should walk through it, but barring sunlight air and probably small animals – i don’t see anything passing this narrow gap! 

Explore the Venetian magic not only during daylight, but also at night. There are small cafes and bars open all the time – some of them open – playing loud Venetian music open air – under the pretext of luring customers. We got drunk in one of such drink bars – Fruilala – sitting on a bar stool, soaking in the atmosphere, Venetian music – enjoying some creative cocktails dished out by our bartender. Little did we care that the menu card did not have prices next to the name of the drinks we ordered. After a few swigs down, when your head starts feeling light and you start enjoying life – there comes the bill that reminds you that “Nice to enjoy, but from the next time do check the prices before ordering”! However i will not ruin the evening with this, but it was indeed a time well spent. Ohh and did i forget to mention – don’t miss sipping the special drink of Venice – Apertif or Spritz as they call it – with olives. It is wonderful!

Venice is known by various names – Venezia, “City of Tunnels”, “City of Masks”, “The Floating City”. You will associate the deeper connection that the city has with these names once you visit this magical city. Do remember - when it’s time for you to leave this mystical city – you will promise to return back. But deep down inside your hearts, you will know that the Venice trip was something special – almost like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from. You will carry Venice in your hearts and memories to your grave!

1 comment:

italy trips said...

Looks like a great trip! I have very fond memories of Venice myself, such a wonderful city! And the ice cream, oh, the ice cream;)