I was met with quite the surprise this morning, when I flushed the toilet water came gushing out from underneath it! I did the only thing I could do, use the towels to sop it up and report it to the hotel. Although, I did notice that they hadn’t actually bolted down the toilet to the floor, so I think that might be where the problems started. One of my tour companions who knew I had gotten a cold, and then overheard me telling the hotel about the toilet issue said, “The only person having worse luck then you right now is whoever is the room below yours!” I couldn’t help but laugh!
A tiny bit of history on Venice. It was founded by Italians who were fleeing Germanic and Hun invaders. It is actually a collection of 100 island. When they first built the city they didn’t have any bridges, everyone got around on gondolas; the idea is that it would make it harder for invaders to attack. Once they felt all strong and surly they built the Rialto Bridge, and then 399 more bridges.
First thing this morning we boarded a boat to visit the island of Murano. In 1291 Venice moved all its glassblowers to Murano to due to risk of fire. It would have been cool to explore the island a bit, but we were there specifically to see visit a glass factory and see a demonstration, and that guy was amazing! He first made a pitcher, it took maybe five minutes, and was surprisingly elaborate for being completed so quickly! Then he sculpted a horse, again, in just a few minutes. It was reared up like Ferrari horse, and could stand up. It is always so cool to see someone who is a master in their craft work.
A tiny bit more history on Venice. It was founded as a republic and ruled by “The Great Council of Venice”. The leader was the Doge, he was an elected official who would hold the position for his life time; so, they always voted in the oldest and richest guy. There was a Council of Seven that consisted of the Doge and one elected official from each of the six boroughs. Those seven would do most of the leading, however when something big came along (such as electing a new Doge), they would call the whole Great Council; this was made of all the men 25 and older who were decedents of nobility.
After glassblowing we headed to the Doge’s Palace. This is an amazing building. It first started being built during the Gothic period (which you can identify by the by the acute arches) and was finished in the Renaissance (which you can identify by how crazy fancy it is). The Doge’s Palace housed everything from the apartment of the Doge, to courtrooms, to offices, to prison cells (until the new prison was built around 1600). Everything is beautifully decorated and ornate.
There are only two frescoes in the building because they don’t hold up too well against the salt water, that means that every other painting in the place is actually oil on canvas. Including one of the world’s largest paintings called “Paradise” by Tintoretto, which is almost 82 feet wide!
We also saw some very interesting clocks, they don’t work anymore but they’re still pretty cool. One is a clock for the day, and is a 24-hour clock. What is more interesting is that the top time on the clock is 1800, or six o’clock. They marked their days from sun down. They other clock is of the zodiac signs to show the months.
We walked across the Bridge of Sighs to see the prison. The bridge was name by Lord Byron who envisioned the prisoners walking across the bridge and getting their last glimpse of the beautiful city of Venice, and breathing their last breath of clean air before going to prison.
A little more history on Venice. It has only been captured once, and that was by Napoleon (not Dynamite). And it was spared from any bombing during World War 2 because the Nazi wanted to keep all the art and history intact for their own use.
The Doge’s Palace was originally connected directly to St. Mark’s Basilica as the church was originally only for nobility. Today it is open to everyone, and it was the next stop on our tour. When you look at the outside of the building you can see that the front has many columns, that are all a little different. Turns out that was because the Venetians pillaged them from Turkey. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the Basilica, but let me tell you it is gorgeous! The ceiling is covered in mosaic of tiles, the main color of the tiles is gold. The tiles are made of clear glass with gold inside them. It makes the whole place sparkle. I would encourage you to google pictures of it, because it’s worth seeing, but when you look at them, just imagine each tile sparkling.
From there we had a little time to grab a quick lunch, and then it was time to meet with back up to ride in a gondola.
The gondola ride was something you really need to do in Venice, I mean there isn’t anywhere else you can really do it! It was a lot of fun, and just an experience! Our group was accompanied by an accordion player and singer. It was really cool. Although, I am surprised I didn’t fall in the water when it was time to get back out of the boats!
After that I went to the “farmicia” and picked up some medicine for my cold. I just got started on that so we’ll have to see how it goes. Still being sick, I went back to the hotel for a rest. And then wandered the streets a little and picked up a sandwich and some water at an Italian deli for dinner.
All in all, it was a delightful day! I think I’d like to come back to Venice sometime and really get to spend some time here. It seems it would be fun to get lost in the streets and alleyways.
Tomorrow we have a long bus ride to Florence, we a stop in Pisa along the way.