…what a treat that was – it is very much worthwhile getting up at the crack of dawn if you want to see St Mark’s Square, the Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs – Venice as it awakens – it is so calm and people-free apart from early morning workers and tourist like us who take the chance to see it as it really is. Here is Phil in the Piazzetta San Marco in the early morning – yesterday afternoon we were shoulder to shoulder with tourists!
Yesterday in fact, we could hardly move in any of the major tourist spots, today, we were on the Rialto, and the Ponte della Paglia (the Bridge which affords the best view of Sighs) alone, and St Mark’s Square and the Piazzetta were virtually empty. Yesterday this was quite a bustling place even later in the afternoon – the loggia of the Palazzo Ducale (note the wonderful arches) :
St Mark’s was interesting as what we could see of the interior was much less ornate compared to most of the churches we have seen (except for the one in Vernazza which was so moving in its simplicity). I know there is much more to see (especially the mosaic work) if we can get back there to view more today, as access was restricted at that hour of the morning.
Breakfast at the hotel was in the elegant dining room overlooking the Grand Canal- very cool. The hotel offers a visit to a Murano glassworks as part of our stay. A water taxi from the works swept up to our jetty and wound its way through small waterways dodging low bridges, and rubbish and delivery boats (its been amazing to watch deliveries in and out of city- it all works so well but it is a mission for the delivery guys both off and on the water.)
Next we swept out into the channel at high speed for the short trip to Murano- we were met by a very suave gent who proceeded with the sales pitch as he delivered us to the artisan workshop for a glass blowing demo – pretty impressive too! Then the hard sell – amazing pieces costing thousands of euro were on display – but way beyond our means. If you purchase in this room you are returned to your hotel in style by water taxi – if you purchase at what they scathingly call “the souvenir shop” as we did, they abandon you – and tell you to get the waterbus – it was a 30 minute trip back but it was brilliant because we saw so much! What you notice when you are out on the water is that there is very much a Byzantine influence to the buildings around the city and on the outlying islands.