Venice

 

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  See more from: London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Germany.



In Venice, I did not see a single automobile or truck. Transport is by foot or by any of the zillion canals that criss-cross the city.

Here we are in front of "main street Venice" - called "the Grand Canal."

Click here to download Deb's movie as we went down the Grand Canal by boat. It will take several seconds to download. When done, you will see a link at the bottom of your browser window. Click and choose "Open".

 



We bought tickets (good for unlimited use over 24 hours) for a hop-on-hop-off water taxi service. But there were many who used gondolas.

 



Residential areas could front onto various footpaths, or could front onto a canal.

 



Many homes had doors such that you could step straight out of your living room into your boat.

 



Some homes, however, had first floors built so close to sea level that the slow subsidence of the city (due to overuse of water wells in the early 20th century) has rendered some first floors unusable, due to being permanently flooded. And of course, it goes without saying that any rise in world-wide sea level will not do the Venetians any favors.

 



There were some lovely roof-top gardens.

 



That six-foot wide path you see behind the bridge is pretty much the standard width for a well-travelled path in Venice. Some of the narrower paths were only wide enough for one person at a time.

 



Building-instability is not uncommon. Here you see that arches have been built over the top of this footpath to keep the two buildings from falling in toward each other.

 



We enjoyed seeing the Bovolo Staircase, an external spiral stair for a family home, built over 600 years ago.

 



Venice is the perfect place to go shopping if you want a custom-tailored Armani suit, or maybe a $1200 ashtray.

I was impressed with the multi-colored marble that this shop used to display their wares.

 



Our bed-and-breakfast was in a converted home that was perhaps 500 years old...with marble floors that ceiling beams that looked like they went back to the original construction.

 



Our room (visible through the double doors above) fronted onto a canal. First thing in the morning, we would hear boats with unmuffled, automovie inboard engines going past. Venice has zero ability to feed itself, and supplies are brought out from the mainland on a daily basis.

In this picture, you can see our B & B, with the balcony, from the plaza on the backside of the building. It took up the entire second floor of this building.

There were some oil paintings on the walls that looked like they went back to the initial construction of the home.

 



There were a number of clocks in Venice that would have to be among the earliest mechanical clocks built. This one is from the Doge's palace - and yes, that is 24 carat gold on the ceiling.

These clocks were interesting in that they were built before our modern conventions for clocks were established. The earliest clocks had no minute hand...only an hour hand. And the starting point could be at what we would call the 9:00 position, the 12:00 position (as with modern clocks), or the 3:00 position. Some had 12 hour movements; some 24 hour movements. One clock even lacked numbers but was marked with Zodiac signs.

 



Justice in Venice was swift and brutal. You could write down an anonymous accusation against somebody and stick it inside the mouth of this face, and it would fall into a box on the other side of the wall, to be read by the Doge. If he decided against that person, they could be arrested, and with no opportunity to answer their accuser, be led off across the Bridge of Sighs...

...to be tortured and (if you survived the torture) to spend the rest of your life in a windowless, unlit cell in the Doge's prison.

Actually, every country we visited had places where we could visit torture chambers that were routinely used. In Weil der Stadt, Germany, whether it is real, or just there to frighten children who go in for a tour, there is a skeleton lying at the bottom of the tower they used as a jail/torture chamber.

Deb and I walked over the Bridge of Sighs into the Doge's prison...but regretted it. It was dark, interminable, and spiritually oppressive. We could not readily find an exit, and so it had a bit of a Hotel California feel to it ("You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave").

 



This armour display from the Doge's palace belonged to a particularly noteworthy Austrian mercinary who fought on Venice's behalf...and yes, that is inlaid gold that you see.

 



Looking out from the roof of St. Mark's church, you can see the Doge's palace along the left, and two large columns, which were brought as plunder from somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean.

Allegedly, there were three pillars brought, but during unloading, one fell into the water and sank into the mud...and has never been retrieved. Here is a closer look at the columns:

 



St. Mark's Square.

 



During the Fourth Crusade, during the Middle Ages, Constantinople made a deal with Venice to pay cash for military aid, and to help free a number of prisoners. Venice complied, and the Byzantine Emperor renegged on his part of the deal. In return, Venice captured and sacked Constantinople...and brought back a vast collection of plundered items...some of which, like these multi-colored marble colums, adorne St. Mark's Church

 



The inside of St. Mark's church is stunning to behold. Every bit of the walls have been inlaid with colored tiles...where the default background color is gold...made by pressing little bits of gold leaf into tiny, molton glass tiles. The inside walls and ceiling comprise around 5,000 square meters. Constructing something of this scope would be analogous to paving a football field with contact lenses.

  See more from: London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Germany.