June 19-20, 2010
Venice, as I’m sure you have heard, is like no place else on earth. When we realized it was a mere 8 hours from our home in Besancon, I knew we had to bring the kids to visit. André and I had been, once before, during our honeymoon over 11 years ago but I was eager to return.
We left on Friday night and slept at a rest stop. Mr. Liberty once again held us all comfortably! I had thought we might stop in Verona (the fair city of Romeo and Juliet) but ultimately we decided to skip it and head straight for Venice. We parked in the nearby mainland town of Mestre (where you can park for 10 Euros a day instead of 30) and took a train into the Floating City. Of course, the first thing we saw were souvenir stands (Man, there are a lot of places that abuse the I love New York logo) but soon enough it was gondolas and canals.
We bought a pass so we could use the water taxis (vaporetti) over the next 2 days and started out exploring the town. Venice is ripe with photographic sights!
We were heading for a local artisan. Of course, Venice is known for its glass and I found, through trip advisor, a local artisan who was on the main island. He made custom items in his shop. I really wanted him to make a gryphon for our Griffin! We had a running email correspondence discussing for about a month before the trip. Unfortunately, he originally created something that was a cross between a dragon and an eagle (so not a gryphon) and the next attempt broke! Mauro was awesome, though, and the kids each requested an animal which he made while we watched. We ended up purchasing the animals and two pendants for me. I wished I had money to buy more – his stuff was incredible. I highly recommend visiting if you are ever lucky enough to be in Venice. You can see some of his work at the following sites http://www.maurovianello.com/ or http://www.youtube.com/user/glasshandmade or http://www.glasshandmade.it/ It was an amazing experience. Thanks Mauro!
Then it was back, wandering through the streets, watching boats squeezing under bridges, enjoying the first of many gelatos, window shopping and heading in the general direction of the Rialto Bridge (photo at top) and St. Mark’s Square.
Being in Venice reminded me a bit of being at Mt. Saint Michel simply because of the sheer number of souvenir shops and tourists. Venice is a city that people come to visit and spend, spend, spend. It was hard to resist! Soon enough we arrived at St. Mark’s Square and the kids were thrilled to see actual evidence of the famous Venetian flooding. They had been very disappointed, up until now, that the streets weren’t simply rivers everywhere we went!
Prepared in rainboots and shorts, they dove right in – inspiring several tourists to snap photos of them splashing about. This seemed strange to me, there are people now, from all over the world, with photos of my kids in Venice…. Slideshow voice intones… “Here we are in St. Marks Square. It was sooo cute, there were even these kids jumping in the water!” Some braver souls even waded in themselves – for long enough to snap a photo, at least!
I was taking these photos, and thinking, as I often do these days, that we were just about the luckiest family in the world…. Then, we just got even luckier as we got the chance to feed the famous St. Mark’s Square pigeons some of the gluten free rice cakes we always have along. I do realize, of course, there are too many pigeon photos – but it was so awesome! The biggest surprise is how soft and gentle their feet feel – like flesh, not hard or pinching.
Soon after this, we had an (unfortunately) unremarkable dinner followed by a train trip back to the mainland. We sprung for a hotel at the last minute since André wasn’t feeling well and headed back, early next morning, for more Venice fun. We love the train, even though it is covered with graffiti. I also noticed some fun Italian Street signs to add to my collection!
We were lucky to be able to visit the interior of St. Marks, with no line.. it is an amazing church and a particularly easy place to notice the way the city is sinking into the sea with its rippled floors and flood stained columns.
The weather on Sunday was terrible – and we ended up getting soaked – and COLD! We took a trip over to Burano (see next blog) and then headed out.
Until next time, Venice – we will miss you!