Day 211: Exploring VeniceSeptember 13, 2017 in Italy
Off we go - time to explore one of the world's most interesting and exciting cities! Left fairly early, grabbed a quick Italian breakfast of a cornetti and espresso from a cafe downstairs, then walked the 20 minutes or so down to St Mark's. We got there around 9:45 and it was moderately quiet, though the queue to access the basilica was enormous already. Dressed in shorts and armed with a dog, we harboured no thoughts of even trying to get in, so we just admired from the outside.
Did some filming as Venice is a world heritage site (of course), then commenced wandering. Checked out the Doge's Palace and the nearby Bridge of Sighs. Even after 20-30 minutes of looking here and heading back past St Mark's, it was noticeable how much more crowded it had gotten. All the comically overpriced cafes on the square were all still empty though, which was nice to see.
Wandered along the waterfront back to the west, admiring Santa Maria della Salute from across the grand canal. This enormous church was built "for good health" after a plague in the 16th century killed off some 80,000 Venetians if you can believe that. Wandered some backstreets here, then headed back roughly towards St Mark's.
More filming of various bits and pieces, particularly the canals criss-crossing the city. It's just so unusual (obviously), but still really interesting. The city was originally built on islands, though they've long since disappeared. All over the place you can see stacks of metal and wood objects, which sort of look like stacked chairs but aren't. Our host told us these are walkways for when the aqua alta (high tide) hits - apparently there's a siren that goes off and you then have about 3 hours to find higher ground. Still happens quite a bit, though generally in November and December ie the rainier times of the year.
Wandered around the St Mark's district and eventually ended up back near the Rialto Bridge, which we crossed over again while dodging hordes of people. Had a quick look at "Marco Polo's House", although aside from a plaque there isn't really anything to see. I'd been given a few recommendations for food places in the San Polo district (just north of the Rialto bridge), so we found one of those and settled for lunch. We both had pizzas and a good chat with an American couple sitting next to us.
Lots of people chatting to us here (usually about Schnitzel who was coping very well with the water, bridges and crowds), and since everyone is a tourist it's a good bet they'll speak English. Seems mostly American, followed by English and Australians. Far fewer Chinese than I was expecting as well, though they're definitely around!
Found a fantastic gelato shop after lunch were we both had excellent purchases, then continued wandering. Headed back across the Rialto to the north side of the grand canal, and eventually made our way to the Jewish ghetto. This was one of the earliest Jewish ghettos in Europe, and although Venice was accepting of Jews who had been expelled from other places like Spain, they were forced to live in squalid conditions, locked in at night and made to pay for the guards keeping them in. Sadly during WW2 all of them were sent off to the concentration camps, and only eight (8!!) survived.
Fairly tired and late afternoon, we made our way back to the apartment building via a supermarket where we purchased supplies for the evening. Since our building came with a small terrace facing the grand canal, we plonked our seats down and settled in for the evening, watching boats go back and forth and the shadows lengthen. Sipped our wine, munched on our bread, cheese and prosciutto and watched the world go by. Very enjoyable, though eventually it got cold and we retreated upstairs, very tired.
Happy with what we'd achieved, but looking forward to another day tomorrow!Read more