Monday, November 01, 2010

Venice Day 1

So last night I went out for a bit of a wander and had dinner somewhere. The meal was okay but not exceptional, I got lemon chicken which was literally just chicken breast slathered in lemon sauce and nothing else! I always think "try something different" but maybe I'll stick to some pasta favourites from now on!

Venice is surprisingly dark at night, I was pretty much expecting everywhere to be lit up like a chocolate box scene, but at least the way I walked yesterday and on the trip in on the vaporetto, everything was pretty dimly lit & most buildings only seem to have one or two lights on in the whole place. I suppose in summer they're all full of tourists.

I slept fairly badly, I was too hot in my room despite having the aircon on full bore, but I eventually figured out that leaving the bathroom door open seemed to help create a bit of a breeze. Despite that, I was up early (went to sleep around 10) and I left the hotel at around 7.45 am, to a nice quiet city outside.

I made my way to St Mark's Square first, only to discover the acqua alta - high water! The whole square was flooded up to about ankle/calf level, and they had set up walkways to get around. This was kind of cool, a different way to experience Venice, although it made taking photos a bit trickier because of course everyone was crowded onto these little catwalks (other than the smartie pants with gumboots on!) After taking some snaps, I went to the Doge's Palace, queued up for only about 10 mins (I'm sure it's terrible in summer) but then found out that the English tour was sold out for the day, so I bought a ticket for tomorrow instead. Then I tried to go inside St Mark's, but I couldn't either because of it being All Saints' Day. (The glimpse I got of the interior looked wonderful though!)

So instead I hopped on a vaporetto (very glad I bought the 72 hour pass for 22 euro, as a single ticket is 6 euro and what with coming from the airport etc. and the weather and the ease of getting lost in this place it has already paid for itself) and headed for the Accademia art gallery. Not sure whether I managed to see all of it, as I read my guide book afterwards and it said it was in 3 buildings, unless there was some sort of gangway I missed, I only saw one... Even if I did see all of the collection there was to see, a couple of rooms were closed off. But anyway, there was some great stuff in there, lots of artists that I know of but aren't terribly familiar with (all or most of them are Venetians) - Tintoretto, Titian, Bellini, Veronese, Tiepolo etc., and a couple of others I liked but hadn't really heard of before like Veneziano, one of the pioneers of Venetian art, and Carpaccio, another early artist of the Venetian school. The Bellinis were my favourites, I really like his use of colour and the sort of sense of cool detachment in his works. I was surprised to see only a couple of Canalettos, but while his stuff is pretty, I'm not much of a landscape fan anyway, so never mind.

By the end, museum fatigue was setting in and I was a bit tired and hungry. Not sure why touring around these sorts of places seems to make you more tired and especially achy than going on a long walk, I suppose it's because you're not really exercising, you're just standing. I aimed to head towards the Frari church, but ended up going the wrong way. Unless you're following the signs to the big tourist draws like St Mark's, it's simply impossible not to get lost in Venice. Even if you try to follow a canal, you keep running into dead ends or bridges you're forced to cross, and before you know it you're hopelessly disorientated in the little alleyways. And here's a tip, if you see somewhere to eat (outside the main tourist bits), go there! God knows when you'll come across anywhere again! At least in winter, restaurants and shops of any description seem in short supply outside of the tourist heart. After a lot of wandering around, I ended up having lunch in a Moldovan/Italian cafe, bizarre. I ordered goulash to start with, which I was pretty excited about, then what turned up was not my idea of goulash! Not meaty and hearty at all, it was a clear broth with occasional bits of meat and potatoes in it and a bit of spice. It was okay, but I was a bit disappointed. Then my pesto pasta was gluey :( Last time I go to a Moldovan/Italian restaurant! Ha ha.

More walking, more getting lost, more rain, one gelato, and I eventually found the Frari church. It was huge, imposing, and had some great works of art in it, especially some of the monumental tombs, including that of Canova, which was shaped like a pyramid, some lovely carved choir stalls, and a fantastic altarpiece of the Assumption by Titian.

The Scuola di San Rocco was just around the corner, so despite feeling that I might be a bit too tired for it, I decided to go in to see the wall and ceiling paintings by Tintoretto. The downstairs was just okay, but the upstairs was amazing, the whole ceiling was covered with carving, gilding, and above all, Tintoretto canvases. You even got mirrors to check them out in comfort. I got told off for taking photos, but it was worth it! Breathtaking! I also ducked into the Church of San Rocco since it was right there and free, which had some fantastic art as well, including 8 more Tintorettos. It is really quite amazing to see art like that just sitting in a church, and nice as well to see it in the context for which it was intended. Tintoretto must have been a busy boy...

I walked back to the hotel via the Rialto, which was fun. Totally touristy, but bustling and bursting with shops selling various trinkets in Venetian glass, masks, sweets, leather goods etc. I did a bit of shopping, I must confess, spending up (not very) large on some jewellery and a gorgeous clutch handbag. Not terribly practical right now, especially since my suitcase was already bursting at the seams (thankfully no weight restriction with Easyjet though), but my normal handbag is massive & the clutch is so elegant! Just the thing for sophisticated nights out! I want some Italian leather gloves as well, but they will have to be going cheap at this stage. Leather gloves are one thing I always long for, but never seem to have the money to splurge on. After this, I really need to be sensible, since I really am in desperate need of more winter clothing, then it's Christmas etc. etc. But I have budgeted for my trip, so no worries really...

Well, that takes me up to right now, taking a much-needed break back at the hotel after 8 hours out exploring Venice. I will probably grab something light for dinner and then prepare myself for a busy day tomorrow again - will be on the tour of the Doge's Palace and then look round St Mark's. That's all I have planned for the moment, perhaps in the afternoon I can do some cruising on the vaporetto, maybe fit in a trip to one of the islands or just wander around Venice some more.


  1. I'm exhausted just reading....

  2. I have always wanted to go to Venice! Love reading about your adventures there, esp St Marks being flooded!

  3. Pardon me for asking but what exactly was Titian assuming?


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