Friday, August 30, 2013

Italy - Venice (2006)

Day 5 : 4th May 2006

What do you think of Venice? City of Romance or City of Marco Polo? The city in it's entirety has been listed as a World Heritage Site including it's lagoon.

Crowds in front of St Mark's Basilica

Anyway, Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini (Italian famous journalist, writer and politician) described it in The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities. For me, Venice is a city of Marco Polo and that was the justified reason why I wanted and was there on 4th May in 2006. Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta are a truly world class traveler who had inspired me since long ago. This is a home birth and where he, Marco Polo died in 1324.

Florence to Venice is about 343km in distance, but with toll road it can be reach within less than 3 hours with a travelling distance of 260km. However, our starting point was in Pistoia where we stayed for 1 night after an exhausted walks in Palazzos and Piazzas of Florence. The bus left the hotel at around 8.15am. We reached the port to Venice for our waterbuses (vaporetti) ride by noon time. We had lunch at 1 of the rest and service area along the highway earlier that day and were already in a waterbus by 1.30pm where we berthed in Venice, not far from St. Marks’s Square.

Santa Maria della Salute

Our guided tour programmed has given the following Venice City Tour:-
  • In Venice, entrance to a glass factory is included to watch the fascinating art of Venetian glass blowing;
  • Cruise along the canals of Venice on a waterbus (a given opportunity to snap various photo of the city);
  • Walking tour to see the island’s most iconic landmarks - St Mark’s Square, the Byzantine Basilica renowned for its golden mosaics, the famous Bridge of Sighs and the Venetian-Gothic styled Doges Palace;
  • Free time to shop for souvenirs or relax at an open-air cafe in St Marks Square; and
  • An optional gondola ride which Zuri and I shared with Mel & hubby and Doreen & hubby.
Piazza San Marco, Campanile and Doge's Palace

1 of a beautiful sight of Venice and the trade mark gondola & St Mark's horse

In short, historically, the lombards (Germanic tribe), migrated and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 568 to 774, leaving it to the Byzantine to rule Venice thereafter. The city became a flourishing trade center between western Europe with the rest of the World, including Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world. By 13th century Venice was the most prosperous city in all of Europe but started to decline in 15th century . At that period, Sultan Mehmet II of Istanbul (new Constantinople) has declared war against Venice, Christopher Columbus found the new world and the Portugal found a sea route to India, destroying Venice land route monopoly. The city again changed during Napolean Bonarpate conquering period, towards 18th century before it's finally join the new Kingdom of Italy in 1886.

Doge's Palace turn museum at the San Marco Square

Tourism has been a major sector in Venetian industry since 18th century, when it was a major center for the grand tour with its beautiful cityscape, uniqueness, and rich musical and artistic cultural heritage. In the 19th century, it became a fashionable centre for the rich and famous, often staying or dining at luxury establishments in the city. Among others, it's attraction include St Mark's Basilica, the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco. 

Closer looks of Doge's Palace in white marble

Piazza San Marco or better known as St Mark's Square is the principal public square of Venice, where it is generally known just as "the Piazza". The piazza @ the square is attributed to Napoleon who calls the Piazza San Marco as the drawing room of Europe. It is one of the few remaining great urban spaces in Europe where human voices prevail over the sounds of motorized traffic.

Entrance door to the St Mark's Basilica

The Piazza becoming a major tourist meeting point where it covers the important monuments of Venice, i.e, western facade of St Marks' Basilica, Doge's Palace, Campanile (Bell Tower), the arcades which was rebuilt by Napoleon in 18th century and the Clock Tower. It also accommodate the buildings known as the Procuratie Nuove (new procuracies), which were designed by Jacopo Sansovino (Italian sculptor & Architect) in the mid 16th century but partly built after his death by Vincenzo Scamozzi and finally completed in 1640. The ground floor has shops and also the Caffe Florian, a famous cafe.

Waiting for coffee at the San Marco Piazza by the famous Caffe Florian

Venice is famous for its ornate glass-work, known as Venetian glass. It is world-renowned for being colourful, elaborate, and skilfully made, developed by the 13th century. Toward the end of that century, the center of the Venetian glass industry moved to Murano. We had a glass tour inside Murano glass factor that day. Murano glass is one of the most renowned types of Venetian glasses, which has been a famous product of the Venetian island of Murano for centuries. Located off the shore of Venice, Italy, Murano was a commercial port as far back as the 7th century. By the 10th century it had become a well-known city of trade. Today Murano remains a destination for tourists and art and jewellery lovers alike. Do not forget to bring back at least paper weight from Murano shop, though it's expensive.

The Famous square becoming a filming centre in numerous famous film pictures, worldwide

6 of us decided to share 1 gondola (with the gondolier who no need to sing) for a beautiful gondola ride experience and to enjoy a closer view of the city. While standing there, I thought of Marco Polo and his travel to China. In December 2006, I was thinking of Venice while taking nearly the same pose in below photo) by the Hutong River in Beijing as it has a view of Venetian Bridge. I opined that the Venetian bridge in Hutong was engineered by Marco Polo during his stay in China.  

It was a truly great experience by gondolo through the grand canal as it lead us to spot of the famous painting title "The Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuola", painted in 1738 by Canaletto, now kept save in the J.Paul Getty Museum. I managed to capture the famous Rialto Bridge, which the photo was placed inside my introduction entry to Italy, Italy in 2006 - Glimpse of Itinerary.

After the gondolo ride, we walked to the Rialto Bridge for shopping and shopping, before ending the Venice tour. We stayed for a night in Venice at Omnia Hotel situated at Rialto, 1, 30020 Noventa di Piave. The hotel is very well placed for shopping at the nearby Outlet Center which has many quality international brands, where we again stop for a quick shopping and having dinner at a nearby area. Facilities at the hotel are good and the staff very helpful, not forgotten, the breakfast was excellent.

Photo not relevant to Venice but to share how big is a slice of pizza in Italy.

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