May 21, 2003—We were sorry to leave Varenna, but we were excited to see what was next—Venezia! We took the train from Varenna back to Milano, and then another train to Venezia going across the country from west to east.
We did not have reserved seats, so we were eventually bumped out of the seats we had chosen. We split up, but I couldn't stand the cigarette smoke and couldn't find a seat in a non-smoking compartment, so I stood in the gangway for quite a long time. After about an hour the crowd thinned out and we sat together in a compartment.
We got off the train in Venice and walked into the big station where we immediately got in a line to secure our tickets for the next destination. As we stood there, looking out the huge front windows, I realized that the main road in front of the station was water! Sure, I'd seen it in movies, but this was incredible. No main roads; just water!
Once we had our tickets, we had to get two more tickets for the vaporetto, or water taxi, that would take us Zattere, close to our hotel, Locanda San Trovaso. This picture (above, left) is from their business card.
Here I am on the Accademia bridge as we ventured into town, looking for St. Mark's Plaza.
There they are. Those beautiful colors!
I'll never forget the feeling when I first laid eyes on St. Mark's. We had walked through so many streets and alleys, crossing little bridges over little canals, following signs, making many turns. Then we walked through a covered section of shops, emerging into the bright sunlight of the piazza. There in the distance was St. Mark's, looking just like it did in the jigsaw puzzle my father and I had put together when I was little. I went weak in the knees!
See the gold lion in the blue field with gold stars? I remember doing that part of the puzzle oh so many years ago. And the four horses below it? My father says they were out for cleaning or repair the last time he was there.
I saw a tv show about Galileo, and it said he took some bigshots up to the top of this very tower to show them his spyglass. They were able to see ships at sea that weren't visible to the naked eye for another two hours. That was in the 1500s!
A great picture (right), although he's frighteningly close to falling in the water.
There are no pictures of our somewhat wild evening. We ate lunch in an outdoor cafe adjacent to the left side of St. Mark's and then walked around looking in shops. Later it began pouring rain, but the tiny alleys seemed to keep most of the rain off of us. Eventually it got pretty wet, so we went into a restaurant and ordered a little something to eat and a bottle of wine or two to drink. We stayed there a long time as the Italians are remarkable at not making you feel rushed.
On our walk back to the hotel we bought another bottle of wine in a little bar and then proceeded to get quite lost. I don't know where everyone was, but the alleys and canalways all seemed deserted. I was a little scared whenever we did see a person because we were really, really lost. We wound up making our way down to the canal and finding the hotel that way.
May 22, 2003—We had a nice continental breakfast in our room in the morning, which is the mess you see on the little round table in the photo. After that we walked back to St. Mark's to see it yet again and had coffee in the piazza, saying our goodbyes to the pigeons. We went on another vaporetto ride taking the long route so we could see more of the Grand Canal, including the Rialto Bridge. I took lots of snapshots, holding my camera out the window. Then it was back to the train station and off to Firenze.