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davidx Venezia - A travel report by David
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Venezia,  Italy - flag Italy -  Veneto
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davidx's travel reports

Venezia - [La Serenissima???]

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Cambridge Online Dictionary translates serene as ‘peaceful and calm; troubled by nothing’. Peaceful is a matter of perspective; ‘Calm’ and ‘troubled by nothing’ sound like symptoms of madness for Venezia. So it doesn’t translate – so what?


Venezia travelogue picture
Venice [seems pretentious not to call it this] can hardly have seemed peaceful to Genoa, given several wars, ultimately won by Venice, for dominance of Mediterranean trade; and did the cities of Dalmatia line up to seek Venetian control? Hardly. If they stayed calm as napoleon was threatening, it might seem rather surprising and I guess he troubled them a bit. What remains? A city-based state that acquired a dramatic significance in the history of the Mediterranean over a long period and an amazingly beautiful city. Personally I find other cities being known as ‘The Venice of [somewhere improbable]’ to be a bit on the mad side. I have seen a few of them and they are as much like Venice as I am like a millipede, though often great in their own right. Bridges and canals are not the whole by a long chalk. The first time I went to Venice, 47 years ago, I assumed that, as its fame related to its canals, it was best seen from them. Obviously the converse, NOT seeing it from its canals, would be both difficult and insane – but it’s at least as important to wander around and, hopefully, get lost for a bit among its streets and bridges. After all the chance to wander that far without being troubled by cars is one of the city’s great attractions – and do try to leave enough time, after seeing the deservedly famous sights, to just BE THERE. It’s not a cheap place to stay and a number of travel firms base their customers outside. However, there is a particular feeling about staying there and, if planning to go under your own steam, do try and stay at least one night, even if you then want to spend the rest of your time somewhere cheaper. Going out in search of breakfast and watching the traders going along the canals for the day’s supply of fruit and veg is a real treat. I shall start with some attributes of the city other than St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Rialto and the Bridge of Sighs, although you will want to see all these.

Favourite spots:
Venezia travelogue picture
It’s in the nature of what I’ve just said that I can’t go on and give you places to see. The whole point is that you should get out of the boat and wander for yourself. So start by looking at a map. www.ciaovenezia.com/-en g/mappa_venezia.htm# will do, if you click to enlarge the map. You will almost certainly get onto a ferry somewhere near the left of the map and you may well choose to go right to St Mark’s early on. Why not? It’s a fine trip right down the Grand Canal – it really is grand. The important thing however is that you should then choose a place between the Rialto and St Mark’s and just take to the lanes. It’s when you see what are ordinary aspects of life –or death - elsewhere being carried out on water that you can feel that you have really seen Venetian life. I meant the death bit – hearse and funerals as well as marriage conveyances on water all serve to make up the overall pattern.

What's really great:
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I don’t mind how many islands there are in Venice – a mighty lot. However as you come out into the lagoon, there are actually some ‘real’ islands, not connected with [several] others by bridges and some of them have a highly specialised history. Two of these are Burano and Murano [not a joke!], which specialised in lace and glass respectively. On Murano it’s easy to get a free demonstration of highly skilled glass-blowing. It’s still vital to the island’s economy to sell glass to tourists. Sometimes VERY minor damages to otherwise VERY expensive articles can give you a real bargain. For lace in Burano see www.azureva.com/g b/italie/mags/dente lle-burano.php3 For glass in Murano see http://europeforvisi-tors.com/v enice/articles/mura no_the_glass_island.-htm I’ve not been to Torcello and as far as I know there’s no equivalent speciality but one of the church mosaics is said to be outstanding. I believe Museo dell'Estuario is also good.

Sights:
Venezia travelogue picture
OK, it’s not just a concession. The best-known sites are mustsees.
The history of St Mark’s body isn’t my scene at all but the Basilica is unique, however many jigsaws may be dedicated to it. Among innumerable sites is
www.venetia.it/m_basil_eng.htm
The Doge’s Palace, which includes the Bridge of Sighs will be found on
www.mykreeve.net/ve nezia/san_marco/do ges_palace/ [ and no – much as it may look that way, I didn’t nick any photos from this site!]
For the Rialto Bridge see www.cheapvenic e.com/rialto.htm


Accommodations:
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The first time I stayed at the Youth Hostel. The other was on our 1976 trip and we camped about a mile outside.
http://europeforvisitors.com/v enice/articles/venice_h ostel.htm gives the youth hostel and other cheap accommodation, about which I know nothing.

Other recommendations:
Venezia travelogue picture
On my first visit I thought I should see a lot of paintings, because I was aware of their importance. Hence I made for anywhere likely to have a good exhibition. How appallingly stupid! It’s hardly surprising that, not having a clue wht to expect or how to appraise anything, I quickly became very bored with the religious themes and didn’t pay sufficient attention to developments in form and colour.
The answer isn’t to ignore the paintings but to do some preparatory work so that you feel you can do more than gape ignorantly.
http://arthistory.about.com/cs/a rthistory10one/a/ven_ren.htm would make an easy start.

In picking websites I’ve tried to avoid sites that are there for straight advertising. It is only now that I have come across a site on many aspects of Venice that seems splendid, from our very own UK BBC.
www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A190045

Published on Friday March 4th, 2005


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Tue, Mar 29 2005 - 04:42 PM rating by mtlorensen

Wonderful report! On my trip to Italy, I suspected that Venice would be too touristy for my taste. I was wrong. Loved it and would have spent more time had I known. My ride on the gondola was nice-kind of a must-do-but I don't feel the need for that again. Just walking through the maze of little alleys, and getting lost in them, was fabulous!

Fri, Mar 04 2005 - 06:39 PM rating by rangutan

Wish I could write so flowing and descriptive as you do. There is too much in the city to describe in a short report. Ill certainly return to Venice for a fourth time and perhaps more again, next time those two neighbouring islands. One of the best classic cities for travellers, most somehow always return there!

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