The Queen of the Mediterranean
4 May 2015
|And now I see why. I am still debating, but I might say, if you see anything in your lifetime, perhaps it should be Venice. This is an amazing and unique seat of a 900 year dynasty and we haven't even gotten into St Mark's and The Doge's Palace yet. Hope to tomorrow, crowds permitting. In the meantime, I am wondering how they built an entire city on water which likes to lap into peoples' front doors. I am also trying to figure out how these buildings just don't topple over for foundation failure due to waterlogging. I mean if we had a house with one crack in it, moisture would ruin everything in the house. And with all these outboards, water taxis, and to a lesser extent, gondolas bombing around, it doesnt exactly help with the the wake factor working its way up the facades. SOme people have bricked up their lower doors and raised them above the water line.
it is charming at every turn with intriguing detail in most every glance. Much cleaner than expected.
I like the way the streets are labarinthine, nothing straightforward here. St Mark's square is bigger than expected and thankfully, less pigeons. But not before Luigi pressed pastini into the girls' and my hands. Luigi! Whats matta you? Don you know those birds they a dirt? You tryin to make us asick? Dad even had one on his shoulder, with him walking away like a pigeon pirate. Somebody get the Lysol! Ack!
We did get in to see St Mark's church and this one may be the mack daddy of them all. IT has been a long while since I have been inside St Peter's i Rome( since I was the qings age?) so it is tough to compare, but I do not think the amount of gold mosaics in ST Mark's can be rivaled anywhere else. The floor itself is a wonder of mosaics of geometric patterns that are hard to believe were made in the 1500s. The overhead and virtually all the walls are gold mosaics. St Mark's body was stolen back from Egypt and he is under the altar. I do not know if that is what he had in mind, but it was what the Venetians did.
For a few euros more one could visit behind the altar. It was a bit disturbing that there were actual turnstyles and a cash register back there and I was fully envisioning the second coming right then and there with Jesus driving out the money changers….again…before He got to everything else He needs to do…
at any rate (2 euro) we paid it to see the most amazing GOLD wall of matting of the saints about 12 feet tall and 15 wide, encrusted with every kind of jewel imaginable, amethyst, rubies, sapphires, you name it. Not that I am endorsing it, but it was an incredible eyefull. Whoa.
Followed by the Doge's Palace. This was off the hook. Room after room after room of the most ornately gilt framed arts treasures from the 1500s. Fireplaces of the busiest sculptures of figures. The artwork depicted biblical events as well as Roman gods such as the winged footed Mercury (conjuring thoughts of FTD) and figures such as Fortune paying homage to a figure of a woman to be Venice. Even more telling were the figures of Jesus and MAry bestowing the crown on the doges (or Dukes) of Venice (ok, who of you went to Dukes of Hazard there, shame on you! :)) The final depiction was called Il Paradiso which featured all the heavenly realms, righteous denizens, and choirs of angels crowning the latest doge. This artwork was hotly contested to see who would get to execute it after a fire did so much damage to original in the 1500s. Not sure if they kept updating this with medieval photoshop as time went by as we didn't get much of a tour here.
The final was a brief go through the prison section through the bridge of sighs with peeks at the canals below, the last thing to be seen before being locked away in a dungeon. SIgh.
We acquiesced to the iconic gondola trip, which, though usurious, was worthwhile to go through some quiet canals, by the two original gondola workshops still in operation and even into the grand canal which seemed a bit hazardous given the commotion of water traffic…water taxis, water buses, Luigis in outboard boats not minding the no-wake zone seemed a nautical disaster in the making but Roberto plied it no problemo and even sang a bit gratis, one usually has to pay more for such a thing.
The takeaways: Venice needs more time. Good call to stay near the train station and Plaza Roma. She who hauls luggage over bridges in Venice least, wins. Book in advance for the Secret Tour of Doge's Palace. Next time. Get on line first thing for ST Mark's. Done. Tour around by Vaporretto. Next time.
Picture Fort Lauderdale built around 900 in ornate Latin style, Rustic barrel tile roofs that have lasted for centuries. Chimneys that blossom into large ends of cones. Ancient doors with door knob pulls in the middle of the door. Canals so narrow only a single boat can tie up and possibly even pass through. And the pizza is quite suitable as well!