The Grand Canal near the Accademia Bridge
Stepping into a painting is exactly how it felt visiting Venice during the Easter break this past week. Certainly this city is all about beauty, expressed time and again, around every corner, down every canal, and over every one of its' 400 bridges.
The Rialto Bridge
C2, J, and I spent 5 days together with my mum and Auntie Harriet in a gloriously charming flat around the corner from the Piazzo San Marco, near the Campo San Moise, facing a canal and where from our windows we watched gondolas drift by and listened to the gondoliers singing old Italian love songs. If one was cynical enough, one might teeter toward thinking it a tad schmaltzy, I, on the other hand thought it perfectly lovely.
A gondola along the Grand Canal
The best advice we discerned from our travel guides was to 'get lost' walking in this car-free city. So we did....again and again. Kinda hard not to. Every narrow road led to another bridge over another canal. It was the best lost I've ever been. As long as we followed the sign posts to either 'San Marco' or 'Rialto', we always had a fair idea of where we were.
A narrow canal and one of 400 bridges spanning them
J chased pigeons in the Piazzo San Marco in the shadow of the San Marco Basilica while my mum and Aunt had a glass of wine and sang along to the orchestral bands at Florians. We all toured the art-filled wonder that is the Doge's Palace. Ever intrepid J decided we must take a gondola ride (expensive but when in Rome...) down the Grand Canal and so we did admiring the fading but still noble beauty of the hundreds of 15th century palazzos including the Gritti Palace, the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, and the Ca' d'Oro.
The pigeon chaser of Piazza San Marco
Another highlight was travelling by vaporetto (water bus) to the island of Murano where beautiful cut glass continues to be made by hand and fashioned into jewellery and objects d'art. We did so much 'mooching' (to use my mother's term) in and out of murano glass shops in Venice that we all felt blinded at the end of 5 days.
Our gondola ride
To best see authentic Venice, we ventured off of the principal touristy areas and wandered into the lesser known but more 'real' campos and neighbourhoods. In one small campo, though I have no idea where, we stopped at a little art shop and bought a lovely watercolour of a canal at dusk. Real art sold to us by a real artist with a real vision of Venice; it is perfectly lovely.