September 15, 2012

Venice - And That's a Wrap

We began our last day in Venice somewhat leisurely; April was kind of annoyed that it was almost noon and we were still at the apartment. But it's Saturday and I'm in no hurry to get out the door. The only two things on our agenda for the day is to tour the Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale) and do some retail therapy in the Rialto area.

Now that we're ending our visit in Venice, we finally figure out a different, more direct vaporetto stop that's really not any further away than the stop on along our promenade. We enjoyed some beautiful scenery along the way to the "Salute" vaporetto stop.

The homes in this area of Venice are quite stunning, many of them with nice rooftop gardens.


This being a Saturday, the crowds were thick, especially on the vaporetto routes.

Once we arrived at the San Marco district, the troops were hungry for lunch, so we set out in search of some vittles. Today we all decided we WERE NOT eating pizza for lunch! We wandered around for a few minutes and finally found a nice little restaurant along one of the canals. After sitting down, I finally glance up at the name and see that we had selected "Da Raffaele", which coincidentally was the restaurant I had made a reservation at on Wednesday evening (which we cancelled) for dinner after doing exhaustive research on Fodor's and Chowhound. Of all the restaurants in this area, we just happened to pick the place "on the list." What a coinkidinky!

Our lunch was fantastic! I had the lasagna, Sean had gnocchi with tomato sauce, Dad and Joan also had lasagna and April had ravioli. Accompanying my delicious lasagna was a nice cool Spritz, complete with the green olive at the bottom. I've grown quite fond of this refreshing drink. It's a concoction of Prosecco, Aperol (a sort of bitter orange liqueur), slice of orange and green olive.

Refueled for our afternoon fighting the rest of the tourists, we head back over to San Marco to tour the Doge's Palace. As usual, St. Mark's Square was packed. What do you think a cocktail costs at this outdoor place, complete with musical entertainment?


The Doge's Palace is built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923. In 2010 it was visited by 1,358,186 people. I'm pretty sure that at least 300,000 people were there at exactly the same time as we were.

In 1485, the Great Council decided that a ceremonial staircase should be built within the courtyard. Since 1567, the Giants’ Staircase is guarded by Sansovino’s two colossal statues of Mars and Neptune, which represents Venice’s power by land and by sea, and therefore the reason for its name. Members of the Senate gathered before government meetings in the Senator’s Courtyard, to the right of the Giants’ Staircase.

The "Golden Staircase" is the main entrance to the Doge's apartments.

As far as palaces go, the interior of this palace wasn't too over the top. The rooms of the Doge's apartments did features some beautiful fireplace mantles carved out of carerra marble. Most of the furnishings have been lost, so the current-day palace is sparsely furnished, mostly with reproductions.
Most impressive was the collection of more than 2,000 suits of armor and weapons they had on display.

The view of the canal from a palace window was pretty spectacular. You can see just how busy the water traffic was on Saturday.

After our visit to the Doge's Palace, it was time to cap off our trip to Venice with some much-needed retail therapy. Although I certainly gave it my best shot, my only purchase was a 10 Euro trinket I have earmarked as a Christmas present. Both Joan and April bought a beautiful silk brocade scarf and April found a cute handbag (purple, of course!). Did I mention how crowded it was?

It was nearing the end of the day, so we headed back to our apartment. All of us weary from the crowds.
And that's a wrap on Venice. My overall impressions of Venice are that it's a beautiful, very scenic place, with charming canals and stunning architecture. However, I'm not sure it's a place that I would ever spend a significant amount of time visiting again. It didn't hold the same kind of allure for me as other places I've visited, especially Paris. I'm positive that I would never, ever, tire of Paris. I think we all felt we spent exactly the right amount of time exploring Venice and enjoyed our time here, but we're all ready to move on. Next stop, a brief visit in Bologna. We're training from Venice to Bologna on Sunday.


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