This is the street our hotel is on. It’s called “The Wide Street” as the others in Venice are far narrower. Behind that church at the end of the street is St Mark’s Square. So far, all our hotels have been right smack bang in the centre of town, which has been fabulous.
I couldn’t get this photo to upload yesterday, so here it is today. This is me at the Bridge of Sighs. The 3 fingers are to say that now I’ve seen all 3… at Oxford, then Cambridge and now Venice. Anyway, back to the walking tour.
Our guide was a 79-year-old woman named Anna. She’s lived here all her life. She was great.
Here’s another sighting of wire-haired dachshunds. This little group was in the first square we went to. It’s a sign, I tells you! They were so friendly when I snuck away from th group to have a pat.
She was saying that when the islands were first built on, there were only a couple of bridges and so everyone used to travel around by boat. Nowadays, with 400 bridges, boat travel is rare and everyone walks. If you have a private boat you can only bring it out on certain days like feast days; you can’t just tootle around to a friend’s place and tie it up outside their house while you pop in and have morning tea.
The opera house. When it was built back in 1774 it had the symbol of the phoenix. That turned out to be prophetic as the interior has burned down 3 times and been rebuilt. Exterior is stone; interior is wood.
In Venice streets are called “Calle”, not “Via” like in the rest of Italy. This street is called “The street behind the church.” This is one of many streets called this. They are very literal when it comes to street names. There’s streets called, “The street of the pasta makers”, “The street of the bakers” etc.
Here’s a clever little invention to stop men from peeing in the corners of the squares.
She talked about how hard it is to live here. There are no cars, very few places have lifts, the 400 bridges are full of steps and there are no large stores here. Everything, right down to power, gas, water, food, is brought over from the mainland so it’s very expensive. She said that the young ones and the old ones can’t afford it so they go off and live on the mainland. There are less than 59,000 Venetians actually living in Venice, but there’s 20 million tourists a year. The young ones commute to the city every day to work in the service areas to look after all of the tourists. She said to imagine if you’re a young mother with a stroller and having to get the shopping… going around the city by foot because even if you have a private boat you can’t
Then she showed us some “treasure.” That’s right… trees. A garden. She told us that Venetians are starved for the sight of green. If you have an actual garden it means that you are very wealthy.
See the red boat? That’s the fire department.
Murano glass …One of the included things in this tour is watching glass blowing. I wasn’t looking forward terribly much to this until my friend Ian looked at the itinerary before I left home. He said it’d be fantastic, so that piqued my interest a bit. The skill that the glass-blower demonstrated was incredible. They go through a 10-year apprenticeship to be able to make the exquisite works that we subsequently saw in the showroom.
I ran a little mad and bought an heirloom that the boys can fight over once I’m dead and buried. (But not for a good while yet…) It’s big and heavy and beautiful and they’ll post it in two weeks so I’ll definitely be home when it arrives. I was suffering buyer’s remorse for a while after we left but then I got over it. After all, this is what Skinflint Sundays are for: to save on the little things so I can spend on the things I want.
(But I still told everyone on the tour to slap me if I tried to buy anything else that day.)
After the visit to the glass blowers, we went out to the island of Burano. This place is famous for its lace and for the brightly coloured houses. The story goes that the fishermen husbands would go to Venice to sell their catch and then stay to gamble and drink and see the women, saying to their wives that they couldn’t see their houses to find their way home because it was too dark and the houses all look the same. So the wives painted the houses very brightly so there’d be no excuse!
People went into a shopping frenzy. Here’s my friend Heather having fun. I may or may not have bought a silk scarf… no one slapped me… This tour is full of enablers.
It was a very hot day. The restaurant we had lunch in was air conditioned, thankfully. People were ducking in and out of the shops to stay out of the sun. It looks terrific though, doesn’t it?
On the way back to Venice we passed by this beast of a boat. Gigi said that it belongs to a Russian munitions dealer.
Once I got home I spent a fruitless hour or so trying to organise my internet banking. Learn from my fail: every time I make a transaction, my banks want to send a text to my phone to verify it. It didn’t occur to my mighty intellect that of course I’d have a different phone number while I’m travelling so it won’t work. Luckily one of my boys is connected to my bank accounts so if I run out of money we can fix it really easily, but it was still annoying that I hadn’t thought of that.
Then, after I gave up in disgust, I looked at my watch. It was just after 8:30PM. I thought to myself, (because I’m not telepathic and can’t think to anyone else), ‘I’m alone here; I’d better just settle down in my room and have a quiet night. It’d be too risky to go out when I’m on my own and gypsies, beggars and thieves can get me.’
Then I thought,’I’m in VENICE!!!!!! I’m not going to cower in my hotel room and do nothing!” So I gathered my things and went out.
The day had been so hot – around 40 degrees – that when I got back to my room after Burano I’d washed every stitch I had on. So I went out with very damp clothing on. It worked a treat. I was cool and the evening was still warm. Perfect!
I walked to St Mark’s Square. It was all lit up and music was playing from outside some of the cafés and restaurants around the square. I wandered around some of the well-lit laneways around the square, just browsing in the shops and people watching.
After I’d had enough of that, I went back to the square and bought a coconut gelati… my first Italian ice cream. It was delicious. I wandered around the square, stopping and listening to the bands playing, then moving on to the next one when I felt like it. Everyone was happy and it was absolutely magical.
At around 10 I decided that I’d wander back and I bumped into some people from the tour in a little bar next to the hotel. They had settled in for a fine old time, so I stayed for a whle then decided to go up to see if my photos had downloaded.
They hadn’t. (I’m posting this in Nice… 6 days in the future. Italian internet is dodgy as.)