The Splendors of Italy – Part III

This third and final post of a three-part series about our trip to Italy will focus on our stay in Venice.  As you may recall, my Part I post was focused on our stay in Rome, while my Part II post was all about our travels through the regions of Umbria and Tuscany.  Although our stay in Venice was not nearly long enough to satisfy us, I hope the photos that follow will provide at least a glimpse of the sights that make Venice such a unique and beautiful city.

While Venice has a fascinating history as an important center for commerce and the arts and for many centuries has been the site of numerous invasions from enemies in all directions, what the city is currently best known for is, of course, its canals.  Made up of 117 small islands separated by the canals and linked by hundreds of bridges, Venice is an interesting blend of old and new.  From what we were able to see, very little of the city is accessible to vehicular traffic and most people get around either by boat or on foot.  While most of the thoroughfares are paved for pedestrian traffic, the streets are very narrow, as is customary in medieval villages, and in many places more closely resemble alleyways.  When you combine the narrow streets full of twists and turns with buildings that stand three or four stories high, one quickly begins to feel like a rat in a maze.  On more than one occasion we had to ask for directions, but the locals were helpful and while none of us spoke Italian, we found that our use of Spanish was a pretty close substitute.  In contrast to the ancient look and feel of the city, however, were hundreds of shops featuring high-end fashion, jewelry and elaborate Venetian glassware.

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One of the most famous landmarks in Venice is St. Mark’s Basilica and the Piazza San Marco.  Constructed in the 11th century, St. Mark’s Basilica is famous for its mosaics and opulent design featuring Italo-Byzantine architecture.  Although the facade was undergoing restoration and was covered with scaffolding while we were there, we still managed to capture a few images that provide a glimpse of this ancient cathedral.

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Directly in front of St. Mark’s Basilica is the Piazza San Marco which is a major gathering place for tourists, some of whom like to pose for pictures with the many pigeons that will feed directly from your hand.

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Off to one side from the Piazza San Marco is the Campanile (bell tower) of St. Mark’s Basilica.  Standing 323 feet tall, the Campanile reached its current form in 1514, but had to be rebuilt following a complete collapse of the tower in 1902.  The upper reaches of the bell tower are accessible by elevator and provide a spectacular view of the city.

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In closing, I’d like to point out that if you happen to stay at the Smart Hotel Holiday in Venice like we did, then don’t be surprised if you find a welcome card in your room like the one we found below which features a few well-meaning messages of the lost-in-translation variety such as the concluding offer “To Cuddle You, Room Service (on payment).”

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To see my complete gallery of photos from Venice, click here.

Until next time, Ciao!

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