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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Venice 2012

Venice is situated in a lagoon in northeastern Italy. It is criss-crossed by more than 200 canals and 400 bridges, The historic center of Venice, spreading out from the beautiful Basilica di San Marco, is built on a group of islets separated from the Adriatic Sea by a barrier of islands and peninsulas.

Although Venice has a creation myth that it was founded by people fleeing Troy, it was probably formed in the sixth century CE (AD) by people seeking a safe haven from the chaos of the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. The Roman Empire didn't collapse in the East though, and lived on until 1453 (we call it the Byzantine Empire). Venice was ruled by the Byzantines until 751, when a Venetian ruler the Doge was appointed by the major merchant families. Venice became a major trading power, and only declined when the Ottomans finally destroyed the Byzantines and when other powers in Western Europe found trading routes to the indies around the Cape of Good Hope. The discovery of the Americas also played an important role in shifting maritime power.

For more information about the history of Venice see here and here

As we traveled to Venice our tour director's description was liberally sprinkled with superlatives. When we arrived we found that it is very difficult to over hype Venice and its lagoon.

After settling in to our hotel, situated on the Grand Canal, we took a gondola ride. Most of our Probus travellers were in the gondola in the video below - Carmel, Julie, Margaret S, Margaret B and Judy. If you listen carefully to the video you will hear some musicians who were in one of our group's boats ...



... part of the ride was on the Grand Canal. Travel around Venice is either on foot or by boat. The equivalents of busses in other cities are boats in Venice. In the background of the picture below is one of the "bus" stops ...



... we traveled down the Grand Canal - by water taxi ...



... under the famous Rialto Bridge ...



... to St Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco) the principal public square of Venice. The Piazza is dominated by St Mark's Basilica at its eastern end with the nearby clock tower. Interestingly, the clock tower collapsed in 1902, and was completely rebuilt over the following decade.

The north, west and south sides of the square are bordered by a long arcade which is lined with shops and restaurants at ground level, and offices above....


We spent time in St Marks Piazza having an evening drink, serenaded by local musicians ...





Venice is one of the flattest cities in the world, but because there are so many canals we found ourselves walking up and down many steps on the bridges over the canals ...



In the photo below the bridge in the distance is called the bridge of sighs...

The enclosed bridge is made of white limestone and has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge), and built in 1602. The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals. In addition, little could be seen from inside the Bridge due to the stone grills covering the windows. Source.



Venice is renowned for its glass making so naturally we visited a glass factory and shop ..



Marco Polo is one of Venice's most famous residents. Here some of the members of our tour party inspect a house that is said to be built on the location of the Polo house ...



After a too short stay in Venice we too off on our travels, this time to Assisi.

Click on this link for my photos of Venice.

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