Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Venice - St Mark's Square and Murano

Part of wanting to re-visit Venice, was the opportunity to visit some of the places for which it is renowned and of which I had such limited memories of my previous visit. So early on Saturday morning, I left our apartment and wandered towards St Marks hoping to arrive before many of the tourist crowds. My route took me over the Accademia Bridge with the above view of the Grand Canal.

After about 15 minutes I reached an almost deserted St Mark's square. For anyone who has been to Venice, this is a rare occurrence...but at 8am on a Saturday morning, there were only a few other tourists and quite a few joggers.

St Mark's Basilica - the bench like structures in front of the church are the boards that are laid around the city during the aqua alta so people can still get around when areas of the city flood.

I had been into St Mark's Basilica on my previous visit, but hadn't been to see the Doge's Palace - which was my main destination for the morning. The pink and white marble exterior is exquisite.

The palace opened at 8.30, and so I was also able to explore without hundreds of other people. The palace also afforded some wonderful views across Venice.

After I left the Doge's Palace, I queued briefly to go into the Basilica. It feels far smaller than some other European and English cathedrals, but the mosaic work is incomparable.

As I left St Mark's Square the crowds were beginning to build, so I made my way back across the Accademia Bridge for views back towards the Doge's Palace and the Campanile.

I met up with my friends for lunch, and as the weather had become so lovely, we decided to hop on a vaporetto and spend the afternoon on Murano (with an obligatory gelati!)

My last view of Venice as we caught the vaporetto back to collect our bags and make our way to the airport. I am so pleased to have had the opportunity to return to visit after so many years, and explore such a wonderful city properly...

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Venice - a wander through the city

Last weekend, some friends and I spent the weekend in Venice. Earlier in the year I had been talking about how I had once spent 24 hours in Venice about 17 years ago. Unfortunately, that one day was in mid July, the temperature was well over 40 degrees, and we shamefully spent several hours sitting in a fast food restaurant as it was the only place we could find that had air-conditioning. Ever since, Venice has remained on the list of places I wanted to re-visit to explore and appreciate properly. After mentioning this over drinks one Friday evening, momentum took hold and our weekend trip was planned.

My friends had also been to Venice before, so weren't keen to visit the very busy tourist sites. So on our first day we simply wandered from our local area (we were staying in an apartment) across the city, trying to stay off the tourist routes, and exploring the less busy areas.

We stayed in Dorsoduro which is the university quarter. It was a great spot to stay in terms of local bakeries, cafes and restaurants...but we were also able to get a real sense of how Venetians go about their daily lives.

On the canals, we passed produce stores, garbage collection boats and everything in between.

Our footsteps took us towards the Rialto bridge which also afforded us our first daytime view of the grand canal. The local market was still in full swing, with an amazing array of fresh produce for sale.

After exploring the market, we quickly crossed the Rialto bridge and once again headed away from the regular tourist haunts to avoid the large crowds.

This last photo is actually a modern, functioning hospital! By the end of the afternoon we had walked over 8 miles, so we caught a vaporetto back to Dorsoduro and enjoyed an evening of enjoying more Venetian delights (Aperol spritz and cicchetti).

It was a lovely day and a wonderful start to the weekend...