Day 2: Venice
Venice Travel Blog› entry 2 of 11 › view all entries
On this day Jon and I were up bright and early and ready to tour the city. After a fantastic breakfast at our hotel we took the shuttle across to San Marco Plaza to meet the rest of the group. The three that had gone missing the day before had eventually made it to Venice and then continued on through other parts of Italy for their own self-directed adventures. We would not see them until we boarded the ship to set sail for Greece.
We took in the beautiful views of Saint Mark's Plaza before popping into the basilica for a tour. The church is a hodgepodge of various architectural styles, most notably Byzantine. The story of the rise to glory and riches for Venice is intertwined with that of Saint Mark's.
The church is filled with famous mosaics depicted Noah and the floods among other biblical stories. There is also a golden altarpiece studded with rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious gems.
Overall I found the church to be beautiful but not awe inspiring in the way of Saint Peter's in Rome.
We crossed the Piazza and headed for the Correr museum.
After a quick lunch, the group entered the Doge's Palace. It's a pale pink building with overdone ornamental architecture on St. Mark's Square that once held the local governing offices for the city-state of Venice. As I mentioned before Doges were very powerful, controlling both the church and the government. One of the interesting features of the palace are the Mouths of Truth scattered about the complex.
There are various rooms of interest in the palace such as those where justice was deliberated and one could be sentenced to death, private rooms of the Doge for everyday life, armory rooms that still hold gruesome weapons and torture instruments and of course DUNGEONS. The dungeons were in use from the time the palace was built in the 800s to the 1930s. There are still carvings on the wall made by the prisoners and you get a real sense of the despair and hopelessness that must have hung in the air when you wander through the narrow dark and damp tunnels. Connecting the prisons to the outside world is the Bridge of Sighs. It's a famous landmark of Venice and from atop it came the last glimpse prisoners would have of sunlight before being marched down to the dungeons.
Soon after we emerged from the palace we stumbled upon two of the three remaining members right in the piazza who had arrived into Venice that afternoon (bringing the total group count to 12 but then minus the three that had gone off sightseeing elsewhere in Italy we were down to 9).
We did dinner as a group at Osteri Alle Testiere. While the restaurant came highly recommended and was affordable, I found the cuisine lacking as compared to that offered in southern Italy such as Rome. I would later have the same experience throughout our vacation and concluded that I simply prefer southern to northern Italian cuisine.
Note: Make sure to check out all our photos below including the video Diane took- a 360 degree presentation of St Mark's Square..