Friday, 5 May 2017

Venice, Or: What I did on my Holidays, part the first.

I've always wanted to visit Venice, and decided that this would be the year I did so, so I have just returned after 6 days there. 

I loved it.  

I was staying in a convent guesthouse which was basic but very central, less than 5 minutes walk from St Mark's Square and less than 10 from the Rialto Bridge. I took the boat from the airport to Venice, rather than the bus, which meant approaching across the lagoon and along the Grand Canal, which is definitely an interesting way to arrive!  And I saw my first gondola within minutes! 

The first evening I had time to go out and explore a little, visiting St Mark's Square, as it gradually emptied, and walking along the quay, admiring the moored gondolas and the views across the Lagoon.

The following morning I made an early start and explored further on foot, to see the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs), with an early morning gondola, then walked as far as the Arsenal (where they used to to build, and moor, warships, in the 12th to 16th Centuries.

 I didn't go in, I think some of the buildings are still military, and it was too early for the Navel Museum to be open.

 After walking back to St Mark's Square I decided to visit the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace).

It's pretty impressive: Most of the current building was built in the 15th and 16th Centuries, (Apparently there has been a building there since the 9th Century, but the Palace had a habit of major fires so they have had to rebuild it quite a lot)

Giant's Staircase
In some respects it reminded me a little of Versailles, in that it is never knowingly underblinged. Still, I suppose if you have Tintoretto and Veronese and Palladio hanging around with nothing better to do you might as well get them to do a bit of home decor!

Sala del Senato 
 While I was visiting they were having a Hieronymus Bosch exhibition at the Doge's Palace, and I decided to go. I'm glad I did, because the exhibition includes some of the major rooms in the Palace which it would have been a shame to miss. 

There were only 3 actual Bosch's, the rest of the exhibition related to those who influenced or were influenced by him. 
Detail from 'The Hermit Saints', Bosch

But the details on the pictures they do have were very .... interesting.  The guy had a very odd imagination!

The visit to the Doge's Palace also includes the chance to cross the Bridge of Sighs (which is, as you might expect, much less attractive on the inside)

After visiting the palace, I spent the afternoon exploring, including crossing the Grand Canal by traghetto (the poor man's gondola - for just €2 you can be ferried across the Grand Canal by a pair of gondoliers, although admittedly there are no gilded or carved decorations on the boats, and the gondoliers don't wear their trademark straw hats!

 Having wandered far enough to reach the railway station and the Scalzi bridge, visiting several churches along the way, including Chiesa degli Scalzi, where there was an Easter display of Murano Glass, including these rather appealing wine goblets! 

After which I took  the advice of my guidebook and taking the vaperetto (water bus) line 1, which goes all the way down the Grand Canal to San Marco, giving you the chance to admire all the canal-side palaces. Which is nice.

1 comment:

spacedlaw said...

I like "it is never knowingly underblinged".