After a loooong interval … I thought it is best that I try and wrap up my sharings on our Italian holidays. Although it is tempting to share about our recent excursions in other parts of Switzerland … but if I were to do that … I think I would never have the courage to write about our trip to Venice, after that! So … better late, than never … and as the common saying goes … I am saving the best (of our Italian holidays) for last lah! hehehe … 🙂
My second visit to Venice was actually a little overdue. We had been thinking … and hoping … of going there when my family came to visit last year … as my younger sister wanted to visit the city. Unfortunately, the plan had to change. Well … when travelling in a big group … it is not always easy to plan the itinerary to try and accommodate everyone’s preferences! And Venice, unfortunately, had to be taken out of the itinerary.
So … it was kind of strange that it was back in our holiday itinerary this year … even though we did not really plan to go there … at least not from the very start. But it was a city that both the hubby and I had hoped to visit … together. So … it was nice to be able to finally do it … just the two of us. More romantic lah … especially when we saw our room … felt like we were there for a honeymoon! hehehe … 🙂
But we certainly left the arrangement for our trip to Venice … to the very last minute … buying our train ticket from Siena on the very day of our departure and near departing time … and booked the hotel that we intended to stay only the night before, through the internet … but only because my friend kept telling us to do so! Otherwise, we would have looked for a hotel only upon arriving in Venice! Even then, we only booked for one night … as we were not sure whether we would be staying just a night … or two nights! But since we liked it there so much … we decided to extend our stay by another night.
What can I say … except that this was not the first time that we did our holiday this way … and most certainly it will not be the last! Personally, I would prefer that things are more or less confirmed before I even embark on my holiday … but the hubby does love to travel as much as possible without doing advance bookings because he claims this allows us to be more flexible itinerary-wise. So there have been several other times when we only looked for places to stay … only after having arrived in the city … even at night! Hmmm…
But despite all the last minute arrangements, everything turned out pretty well, indeed … and of all the places that we visited during our Italian escapade … our trip to Venice was the hubby’s favourite … and mine, too! And since we took loads of photos (as usual) … I think I will have to share our stay in Venice in several parts. Would not want to miss sharing all the interesting sights and bits that we saw and experienced, now, do we? 🙂
So … enjoy these photos of Venice … and do not forget to roll over them to read descriptions of the photos or to click on them if you want to enlarge the photos…
Arriving in Venice … after about 3.5 hours of train ride from Siena (click here to read our entry on this beautiful town). It was so nice to be able to step foot onto Venice once again … after nearly 20 years! The above are the views from and near the train station of Venezia Santa Lucia.
Instead of taking the waterbus … the hubby suggested that we walked to our hotel. Oh well … as long he’s the one dealing with the bags (since there are many canals to cross in Venice, less you forgot or did not know) … I am ok with that suggestion! 😉
It took longer than he had anticipated … but we did find it … and I absolutely loved the setting, internal decoration and location of the hotel!
Located along the Grand Canal … with a waterbus stop right next door … the location of our hotel, Pesaro Palace, was quite ideal! The building itself goes by the name of Palazzo Giustinian Pesaro and was built in the 14th century (but was rebuilt in the 19th century in the original style). It has a lovely garden … and beautiful architecture (even though – as the hubby is keen to emphasise – not as spectacular as the illustrious neighbour palazzo standing on the other side of the alley, the Ca’ d’Oro). I loikeee!!! But errr … it was not that cheap lah … although we were lucky to have got a huge discount (about 40% less) when we booked!
Our beautiful room … with its long corridor leading to a sitting area on one side and bedroom on a raised level on the other side … with beautiful ceiling cornices, Venetian chandeliers, gilded mirrors and beautiful pieces of furniture … aaahhh. As I had said earlier … it felt like we were on a honeymoon lah! 😉
But we could not stay too long inside the room … no matter how beautiful it was … because the beautiful city of Venice itself was waiting. So, after we had refreshed ourselves quickly, we went out to take a walk through the city. And so we walked … through the enchanting city of Venice for 3 days… until my heels hurt with too much walking … adoooi!
There were many little things that I saw in Venice that really fascinated me! But before I share them … first I will share the usual things and places that one would expect to see and visit when one goes to Venice lah huh? 🙂
The most famous and popular place in Venice where everybody will surely go … and, because of that, always very crowded is …
… Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s square)! This photograph shows the beautiful Byzantine Basilica di San Marco (9th century, rebuilt in in the 11th century; façades from the 12th to 16th centuries) in the background with the 97m high campanile of San Marco in the middle of the photo. The foundations of this tower were laid in 888 and the gallery at the top was completed in 1152. Unfortunately, an earthquake caused the campanile to collapse in 1902. Both the Loggetta (visible on the picture on the bottom right, below) and the campanile were rebuilt as faithfully as possible over the years 1903 to 1912.
Venice is estimated to attract 14 million visitors a year, so just divide this figure by 365 days and you will get a rough estimate of the number of tourists who pass through Piazza San Marco every day given that this area is one of Venice’s top attractions.
And the crowds in Piazza San Marco as seen from a waterbus on our second day in Venice … amazing! The Basilica’s south façade really stands out when seen from the sea. So much so that in 1504 a gate was added, Porta da Mar (‘sea gate’ in the local dialect – it is the one with the dark half-circle above); the smaller entrance to the right originally led to the Baptistery. The building on the far right is the Palace of Doges (also known as the Ducal Palace), which was the seat of the government. Note the two pillars, erected towards the close of the 12th century, which serve as a kind of symbolic gate to the sea. On the left is the pillar of Saint Theodore with a dragon at his feet. Saint Theodore was the first patron of Venice. He was later replaced by Saint Mark, whose remains were brought from Alexandria to Venice in 828 century and who has been the city’s patron ever since. The winged lion of Saint Mark at the top of the right pillar was initially a chimera as the wings and book (visible on the picture below) were added later on.
The photos above show the central porch of Basilica di San Marco (top left) and the south façade with the two pillars brought back from St Jean d’Acre in 1258 and 1260 dating back to the 6th century and the group of embraced Tetrarchs on the bottom corner of of St. Mark’s basilica (bottom left). On the right is Torre de l’Orologio (clock tower, built 1493-99 with the two side wings added in 1506 and the columns in 1750 to provide stability).
The photo on the left shows the Piazzetta with the pillars of Saint Theodore and Saint Mark and Libreria Vecchia (old library, 1537-1554, Venice’s national library) in the background, hidden behind a huge advertisement. On the bottom right photo, another giant poster concealed the last arcades and windows of the Ducal Palace, which the 19th century English essayist and art historian John Ruskin described as ‘a model of all perfection’ (The Seven Lamps of Architecture). Well …I guess it is not too high a price to pay for the renovation work such buildings have to undergo from time to time. After all … Venice belongs to the whole of mankind … as Venice and its lagoon were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1987 … even though Venice seems condemned to disappear under water owing to rising sea levels!
For many people, a visit to Piazza San Marco is incomplete without feeding or having their photos taken with the many pigeons in the centre of the Piazza! But errr … no thanks … I think I’ll pass though! 😉
We went back to Piazza San Marco on the afternoon before we left in order to be able to catch the changing of the hour … because when that happens, the two statues at the top of Torre de l’Orologio move. If you look closely, you will see that the change of time only happens every 5 minutes.
Not far from Piazza San Marco is another popular stop for photo taking … even though it may not be as famous …
… the leaning tower of Venice (… at least that is how I call it! hehehe … :-)) …
The same bell tower or campanile in Italian … as seen from the opposite side of the canal Rio dei Greci (Greek merchants used to live in this area). We did not intentionally seek out the tower but came across it during our walk through the city on the day we were leaving. The campanile is part of the church of San Giorgio dei Greci. It is probably leaning … because of the shaky nature of the foundations upon which Venice is built … namely, marshy ground plus millions of wooden stilts turned into a mineral material over the centuries through contact with the mud or on stone carried in as ballast for shipping … so that as the local writer Tiziano Scarpa reminds us “You’re walking on a vast upside-down forest, strolling above an incredible inverted wood” (Venice Is a Fish).
The next popular venue and a favourite landmark for photo taking … which is as crowded as Piazza San Marco is …
… the famous Rialto Bridge or Ponte di Rialto in Italian (seen in the background) built in 1588-91. Until the 19th century, the Rialto Bridge was the only bridge that cut across the Grand Canal.
Rialto Bridge as photographed from both sides of the bridge.
This central spot (left picture) on the Rialto Bridge seemed to be a fav spot to take photo of the Grand Canal below. On the right are the two different views of the Grand Canal taken from the Rialto Bridge … on two different days and times of the day.
The first day we arrived in Venice, we decided to have our very late lunch at a small restaurant with a view of the Rialto Bridge. It was a nice place to relax and chill out!
And of course, no trip to Venice is complete without doing the water route! For those who wants the authentic experience of having a gondola ride… this is the place!! It cost between 80 -100 euros for about an hour ride … not cheap (and no wonder gondoliers are rumoured to be better paid than the local university professors! ;)). But if it is going to be your one and only visit to the home of the gondolas … well, why not? You will be able to see a different view of Venice … as seen along the many narrow canals that cut across and all over the magical city of Venice … and also along the Grand Canal which is another must see!
However, since I already did the gondola ride the first time I was here … we decided to give it a miss this time. Instead, we took rides on the waterbus or locally known as vaporetto. Although it can be quite crowded on the waterbus … it was worth it to see the beautiful views along the Grand Canal.
The beautiful Grand Canal of Venice … Canal Grande in Italian, Canałasso in Venetian … which measures 3,800m long, 30–90m wide and an average depth of 5m.
And the different modes of public transports to see it – gondolas, vaporetto and water taxi … to suit different budgets or desires! The standard ticket for vaporetto cost 6 euros for the popular lines on the Grand Canal. But if you intend to stay longer or use the vaporetto often, it will be cheaper to buy the day ticket for 1, 3 and 7 days. You can check out the prices here, which also has a link to the water taxi booking and fares.
When seen from the air, the Grand Canal forms an inverse letter ‘S’ … as it winds its way through the heart of Venice … between the lagoon near the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station and Saint Mark’s basin. The top left picture shows one of the three bridges that cross the Grand Canal.
Here are just a few of the many interesting and beautiful buildings found along the Grand Canal. There are more than 170 buildings … many dating from the 13th to 18th century … lining the banks of the Grand Canal. (Roll over the photos to see their names)
And here are some of the more interesting churches found along the bank … with their imposing size and very different styles.
So … these are some of the ‘must see’ in Venice … which should not be missed!
Err … what else to see when you are in Venice? Well … that I will share in the next post on Venice lah! 🙂
Related entries on Venice:
- Our Italian escapade… the ‘good to see’ when in Venice…
- Our Italian escapade… the little things that I love in Venice…
Other entries part of ‘our Italian escapade’:
- Our Italian escapade… in beautiful Tuscany…
- Our Italian escapade… the sights and sounds of Siena…
- Our Italian escapade… visiting Villa d’Este at Tivoli…part 2…
- Our Italian escapade… visiting Villa d’Este at Tivoli, part 1…
- Our Italian escapade… roaming the streets of Rome…
- Our Italian escapade… a nice start to summer…