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We are staying at a very small hotel just off a working canal. Very quiet but we've finally hit the European Breakfast. Pastries, bread, coffee and tea. Nothing for Eric and light for us. At least there is yoghurt so we get some protein but not as good as we've had. Again, nobody left hungry, we have rice cakes for Eric and he put Nutella on them. He was happy.

After breaky it was time to explore Venice. Kris had planned an interesting walking route to San Marco Square. First we saw San Simeone Piccolo. It was built in 1718, and is a green domed, neoclassical church, modeled after the Pantheon. Saint Simon was supposedly the martyred cousin of Jesus. It is one of the last churches built in Venice.

On our way we found a cat. Very friendly and took to our attention quite nicely.

In one of the many piazzas we found a lady in costume. Eric got his photo with her.

On our way to San Marco we walked over the Rialto Bridge. The oldest of the 4 bridges that span the Grand Canal. The original bridge was floating and built in 1181. The replacement was wooden from 1255. The current bridge dates from 1551 and while under renovations right now is still in use.

Some shots of the roads/alleys we were on.

Just before the square we walked under the orologio or clock tower.

 

Then it was out into San Marco Square proper to feed the pigeons and experience it.

 

The Basilica of St Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Venice. Probably the most famous church in Italy. Italo-byzantine architecture and somewhat modeled after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

In 828, Venetian merchants stole relics of St Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria Egypt. They were originally housed in a temporary chapel in the Doge’s palace but a more substantial church was built for them in 829. That church burned down in a rebellion. The present basilica, which incorporated older buildings, was completed in 1071. So the “new” church is almost 1000 years old. I love Europe.

 

A view of the lagoon. Somehow this shot came out 1970s Kodak style.

Speaking of, I found a sign on our way here. Looks from the 70's. Not a brand we see much anymore.

Just in the square there is Caffe Florian. Opened in 1720, it is supposed to be the oldest coffee house in the world with continuous operation, but I bet somewhere in Cairo says the same thing. It was the only coffee house at the time that allowed women. Cassanova, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Proust, Goethe all frequented.


Right next to the cathedral is the Doge's Palace. There were 120 Doges between the years of 697 – 1797. They acted as the head of state for Venice before Italy was a united country. The oldest parts of the palace face the lagoon, with sculptures dating from the 14th century. The Porta della Carta was the ceremonial entrance to the building.

Inside there is the Bocca di Leone – The Mouth of Secret Accusations – translation of Latin inscription is “Secret denunciations against those who hide favors and offices or collude to hide the true income of them”. If someone was suspected of being an enemy of the state, you could write a note, drop it into the mouth , and the Council of Ten would deal with him.


The interior court:

Statues of Neptune and Mars at the top of the “Giant's Staircase”
 
 
Inside was incredible.
That's the ceiling!
I took a couple of panoramas to try and capture it.
Not the clearest of shots but you get the idea:

http://360.io/mms7p7

http://360.io/22zmxC

We also got to tour the armory and the prison.

We did get to cross the Ponte Dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). Known as that because it connects the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s palace with the prison. The windows in the covered bridge were the prisoner’s last look at freedom before being incarcerated!

Outside view, very pretty.

Prisoner view? Not as pretty. “Sigh”!

From the Palace I'd seen a nice patio overlooking the lagoon. The Danieli Excelsior Hotel is what I saw. We went in and wow, high end. A quick look at the menu and we decided to leave. No pizza for Ryan, every entree started with a 5 or 6 then another number (or two). To put that in perspective our entrees have started with 1s up till now. View? Nice. Prices? Not a chance. On a lark I googled the room rates. Suites go for $4500/night and if you want breakfast included another $200. Our room here was less than breakfast there. Needless to say we left in a hurry. Lunch was up the street in a freezing cold but nice pizzeria. The whole bill was 102 Euro. That would have barely covered the coperto (mandatory tip or table charge that is always put on) at the other place.

After lunch we headed back to the room for a bit of a siesta. After a nice break we went back to last night's restaurant. Eric wanted to try risotto and even though it's rice it's often not gluten free. But there it was. So he and Kris had a shrimp and rucola risotto. He wasn't as impressed as he wanted to be.

It was a nice stroll back to the hotel. I got this dusk shot a few blocks away from the hotel. In fact, the hotel is pretty close to where the lights end on the left hand of side of the shot.

Tomorrow we are off to Murano and Burano islands. Murano is famous for blown glass and Burano for lace making and multi colored houses. Hurray for the 3 day vaporetto pass. All included and the stop is almost outside our door.

 

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