One of these days I’m going to have to change the title of my web page New Paintings of Italy back to plain old New Paintings. I’m just not quite there yet. I’m still working on paintings of Venice. Our visit there was far too brief. It started with our arrival at the train station in the late afternoon. It was rainy and windy and lugging our suitcases, however efficiently we thought we’d packed, up and over the Grand Canal on the Scalzi Bridge, made for a somewhat rough start. Things smoothed out rapidly though. Our hotel was right on the other side of the Grand Canal across from the train station. Once we entered Hotel Antiche Figure it was clear we were in good hands.
Because we had limited time we jumped right in when the concierge asked if we wanted a map and some suggestions of getting around and where to go. I didn’t know much about Venice, I’d done more reading up on where and what to do in Rome and Florence. All I knew was Sam Marco was first on the list. The phone rang as the concierge was showing us the map, he answered the caller in French and then returned to us in English. The particularly interesting tidbit he told us about was a special the island of Murano (as in Murano glass) was running. Murano Chamber of Commerce would provide you with a free water taxi ride to their island and a free tour of the Murano Glass Factory. That sounded great, but San Marco would have to come first so we said sure, Friday we’d love that, and he arranged for the water taxi to come Friday morning.
Thursday morning we got 2 day passes for the water bus and hopped on for the ride down the Grand Canal to Piazza San Marco. It was quickly apparent what a magical place this was. Every kind of water vehicle passed us, mail, UPS, construction, delivery. It was amazing. As luck would have it, Mardi Gras was just starting so when we arrived at our destination there were people in costume wandering through the crowds. We were also approached by members of the Murano Chamber of Commerce telling us about the free taxi ride to Murano. I told them we’d be going tomorrow – “Oh no, the factory is closed Fridays” he said. Well given the choice between San Marco and the surrounding museums and a glass factory, it wasn’t a hard decision.
We continue on to explore the area’s sites. Between the mosaic art and elaborate architectural details of Saint Mark’s, and the surrounding building and the costumes, it was truly a feast for the eyes. Of course once you throw in the history of this magnificent place and you quickly can become overwhelmed. We made it through the group of museums in the area and then went to enjoy the festivities. Before the parade there were several smaller theatrical performances. Then the parade of costumes. They were very elaborate and the participants enjoyed playing to the crowd as well. While our first day in Venice was overcast, the city had more than enough color to be completely delightful.
Walking back to our hotel was rather easy to find, that is because of the signs posted everywhere pointing to the train station, among other places. Absent those signs, for the life of me I can’t imagine how you would be able to navigate the maze of twists and turns, over little bridges, through squares and down alleys. Once we got back to the hotel we then went to dinner to a restaurant that I had read about on TripAdvisor.com, Ostaria al Vecio Pozzo. The food was so fabulous I wished I hadn’t eaten all day so I could finish every bite. We had chateaubriand along with pasta stuffed with seafood. If we ever get back to Venice, that’s where we’re going to eat, with no appetizers ahead of time.
Friday morning we were a little unsure about our water taxi ride to Murano after the men at Piazza San Marco had said the factory was closed on Fridays. To be sure we went to the front desk to ask about what we were told. With great charm and good humor the concierge laughed out loud and told us he lied, they’re open, they just want you to visit when they want. We can go whenever we want and he’ll arrange the water taxi. The woman concierge told they’ll want us to buy things but we don’t have to. Then she told us of Burano, where they make Venetian lace – by hand – “It’s the prettiest of our islands” she said. She went on to say we should haggle over the price of lace if we wanted to buy something… that got the shopper in me ready to roll!