Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend in Venice

This weekend, we went to Venice to meet my parents, who were there after my mom's big birthday. On Friday, we took the train from Florence, met my parents at the train station and immediately started the sightseeing by taking the vaporetto (water bus) along the Grand Canal to our hotel. We were lucky to get seats outside in front, and the weather on our arrival was fantastic, so the parade of palazzi along the canal was spectacular. After arriving at the hotel, we quickly dropped off our luggage and then walked back to the Piazza San Marco, where the evening light made everything look even more picturesque than it already is. We took the elevator up to the campanile on the piazza, from which we had a great view over the city. At 7, one of the bells started ringing, which was unexpected and quite loud! Finally, we walked further west, looking for a restaurant. Unfortunately, the one we had chosen from our guide was closed, and most other places were already full, so we ended up in a touristy restaurant, which was however better than expected.

The next day, we took a vaporetto back to Piazza San Marco again, and went to the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's palace). This was quite impressive in the abundance of monumental paintings by Tintoretto, Veronese, and others, as well as for the insights into Venetian buerocracy. I guess now we understand that Italian buerocracy has a long tradition... Afterwards, we went into the Basilica San Marco next door, which was overwhelming with all its gold mosaics. Maybe less is more in this respect. Then we made our way over the Rialto bridge to the Ca' Pesaro for a rest from all the old and religious art we've been seeing the last few months to go to the Museum of Modern Art and the Oriental Art Museum. From there, we slowly made our way back south and crossed over to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, from which we had a good panoramic view to Piazza San Marco and the buildings on the main island. Finally, we went to dinner at La Zucca, a good restaurant in a quiet area near the Rialto bridge, which I can recommend (but make reservations!).
On Sunday, the weather was more overcast, cooler, and it rained lightly at times. Nevertheless, we started out in the former Jewish ghetto, then took the usual combination of vaporetto and walking to the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, where the attractions include some giant stone funerary monuments, as well as two famous Titian paintings, and the tomb of Claudio Monteverdi. Finally in the late afternoon, it was time to pick up our luggage and return to the train station, from which we took the Eurostar back to Florence.

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