Sunday, May 27, 2012

A great weekend in Venice

We apologize for the break in posts over the last couple days, but the internet wouldn’t work in Cinque Terre and there was none in our hotel in Venice.  We are fine and doing well.

Friday was a great day of relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the big, tourist-packed cities.  We all explored the five lands by boat, train and hiking between them, although some of us preferred a full day at the beach.

In October, floods ravaged the town of Monterosso (photo above, where our hotel is located) and Vernazza, filling the streets with mud and debris and killed four.  In the last seven months the locals have been diligent to clear their towns of the mess for this season’s tourists on which the area heavily relies.  Some construction was taking place during our stay, but the beauty of the towns and scenery and kindness of the locals persists despite the tragedy.

At 8:00 p.m. we all met by the beach for a family dinner of pizza and focaccia bread and shared stories of what the day had for each of us in Cinque Terre.  We all will dearly miss this place, but it will certainly be on many of our lists to return to again one day


Most of the early part of the day was spent on the bus to Venice.  We stopped at an “Autogrill” for lunch.  An autogrill is an Italian rest stop that has an assortment of snacks and a restaurant, which we ate pastas and salads.

The bus pulled into Venice around 3:00 p.m. and we made the trek to the nearest Vaporetto (waterbus) stop.  All of us managed to get our luggage onto the boat and through the canals to our hotel.  This was one of the most interesting days of luggage travel we’ve had yet, since there is no way to be dropped off in front of our hotel.

After an hour of relax time, we all met for a quick walking tour of the city to acclimate ourselves to the new landscape of labyrinth-like streets.  During our walk we stopped for our gondola ride which everyone enjoyed immensely.  The boats navigated the tiny waterways as well as a short trip along the grand canal.  We became the photo-op for many Venician tourists.

The night ended with pizza and gelato before the walk back to our hotel.


Our first full day in Venice started with a walk in the rain to Piazza San Marco, which is what Napoleon dubbed “the drawing room of Europe.”  We dropped our daypacks in lockers and headed to San Marco Cathedral for a trip thrugh the ornate building lined with gold mosaics.

The rain stopped and the next group gave their presentation at the bridge of sighs, a bridge that joins the palace to the prison where inmates would enjoy their last glimpse of light.  Other tourists even crowded around the group to enjoy the presentation by the students.

After lunch we walked to the Peggy Guggenheim museum for a glimpse of amazing art much different than the Renaissance work that has been filling the trip.  The Guggenheim houses works by Dali, Picasso, Kandinsky and many, many more.  We hired a guide for the museum which helped us get a glimpse into the life of Peggy Guggenheim, as well as information on the important pieces in the collection.

After the museum we all took our time exploring the shops filled with Murano glass and paper mache masks.

Today we had to wake up extra early because of a boat race in Venice that was going to stop the Vaporetto from running all day at 8:00 a.m.  We made the journey by water bus with all our luggage back to the bus station, narrowly missing many of the row boas that were to compete in the race.

We boarded our bus bound for Rome, which is where we spent most of our day.  The bus did make a lunch stop in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano.  It was a perfect break from the bus and allowed us to explore another small Italian town before hitting the big city.

The bus pulled into our hotel in the heart of Rome around 7:00 p.m.  We quickly dropped our bags and headed out for a quick tour of Piazza Navona (which three students gave a presentation about), the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and a stop for gelato to finish off the night.

Tomorrow we head to the Vatican.


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    Based on what I have read on a website, Gondolas are handmade using 8 different types of wood (fir, oak, cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime) and are composed of 280 pieces. The oars are made of beech wood. The left side of the gondola is made longer than the right side. This asymmetry causes the gondola to resist the tendency to turn toward the left at the forward stroke. It is a common misconception that the gondola is a paddled vessel when the correct term is rowed i.e. "I rowed my gondola to work".
    Extensive measures have been taken to protect the Cenacolo fresco from further damage. To ensure that the fresco is kept at room temperature, admission has been restricted to a maximum of 25 visitors at any one time since the 1999 reopening.

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    The newly invented German printing press spread rapidly throughout Europe in the fifteenth century, and Venice was quick to adopt it. By 1482 Venice was the printing capital of the world, and the leading printer was Aldus Manutius, who invented the concept of paperback books that could be carried in a saddlebag. His Aldine Editions included translations of nearly all the known Greek manuscripts of the era.
    Starting on St. Mark’s Square, after a short walk through a quiet and typical neighbourhood of the city you will reach a gondola dock, where you can enjoy a trip on the most beautiful boat in the world, along the Grand Canal and little inner canals.

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