Monday, September 3, 2012

The Old and the New

Venice seems either an island of contradictions or a place in the midst of a new phase of its life. Everywhere you walk the crumbling old buildings with "newer" plaster seem to watch you walk by as if your passing is not even a nanosecond in the timeline of things its seen. The churches still are traditional and you better cover your shoulders and knees. Even male apparel seems to never have gone through the 1980's John Cusack/Anthony Michael Hall phase with its popped up collars until now. But is this not the lure of Venice?
Today we hopped onto the vaporetto for our own homemade tour of Renaissance church art. My grandmothers would be horrified to know we were denied entry for not having shoulders covered but we have a battle plan for tomorrow and it includes the €10 pashminas we bought on Murano. (Yes you heard that right. €10 for 75% cashmere.) It's worth it to see Tintoretto's "Sistine Chapel" in the church of the Madonna dell'Orto. Simply amazing.
Today was an adventure to the island of Murano. Every store on the island has tchochkies galore but the chandeliers we saw were art all on their own. We followed little paths and bridges into piazzellas to find huge glass sculptures by artists to advertise their wares. How anyone could make these is beyond me. They're HUGE.
Lunch consisted of small pizzas with only light tomato sauce, very little mozzarella and some gorgonzola.  Very light and very tasty. Back onto Venice we landed at San Marco where we whipped out our pre-paid tickets to the Palazzo Ducale. Good thing too as the line was waaay long. Keep that in mind when you come to Venice. (Tickets can be bought on the Commune di Venezia website.) Saved us a lot of time! We toured the Doge's Palace, walked through the Bridge of Sighs and out onto the Piazza San Marco.
Its like every movie or picture you've ever seen of Venice. The basilica rises behind with its Byzantine inspired spires and golden outdoor frescoes. Walking through the Museo Correr's Napoleonic imperial apartments,  we saw the last vestiges of Venice's royal heritage. The campanile reaches to the sky with its red brick exterior,  standing out from the lighter marble buildings that surround it.
Later on we decided to be real Rick Steves travelers. No map, we just walked deeper into Santa Croce. Dark alleys went every which way and so did we. We ended up finding a tiny restaurant that's not even on Google. While drinking the house wine that wasn't too shabby, we enjoyed some penne arrabbiata, angel hair carbonara, pannacotta with strawberry sauce and a limone sorbetto mixed with prosecco. We were so pleased with our meal we didn't even care when the wind kicked up and it started sprinkling!
Even with today's rain and cloudy sky, Venice still takes my breath away. Tomorrow Boy Wonder arrives and we'll be seeing the inside of St. Mark's along with the Rialto Bridge.


  1. I was at the Venetian Hotel today.

    That's all I've got. LOL.