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The Italy Chronicles – III – Venice

April 7, 2008

So, leaving Milan in my wake, I headed to Venice! It wasn’t until the end of the Venice leg that the weather finally cleared up – you can probably see the point where it happens in the photos 🙂

Speaking of photos, I’m gonna condense this heavily and rely on photos to tell the story for me. Enjoy!

Coming into Venice was like entering a storybook. Approaching by train, you can see the city looming out of the mist over the water in a place where no city has any right to be. Here I got to meet my friend finally!

Crossing the road

Walking around, you realise that it really is a city where canals are the main form of transport. In fact, they’re the only form of transport. There are walkways as well, but they are narrow and frequently result in dead-ends, either at walls or canals. Walking the city feels quite like a maze, trying to find a way through all the narrow streets, rivers and bridges to get where you want to go 🙂

Streets of VeniceVenetian DoorwayVenetian Transport

In saying that though, this is still a normal city where normal people live. That’s evident from time to time, for example when we passed the kids on thier way home from school, or saw people’s washing hanging out over the canals.

The tourist trade is probably the biggest money-maker, though, I imagine. The gondolas in particular were crazy expensive – 80-100 euros a go. So we stayed well clear of them.

Masks for Sale
Plenty to Choose from!
Making the Masks
Shades of Carnevale
Carnevale Store
Mysterious Man

The other big tourist point is the Carnevale. Once a year, the locals don masks and robes and prance about the water town in anonymity, presumably getting up to all sorts of sordid hijinks. The festival was over when we arrived, but the masks were everywhere. And continuously being made. And I loved them! They looked scary and mysterious, and I am definitely coming back at some point when the festival is on! I would love to walk around during that time, and hopefully participate 🙂

Our walking eventually brought us to the other end of the city, where St Mark’s Cathedral lies. This is the Big Thing of the city – in fact, aside from the general nature of the city, it’s about all there really is.

St. Mark'sThe HorsesOver St. Mark's PlazaInside St. Mark's

A huge gilded cathedral sporting four horses on top, and with the inside walls and ceiling made completely out of mosaic. It was stunning. And outside is another plaza absolutely swarming with tourists and pigeons.

Here sun set and we went home on the local ferry – after sampling some giant pizza.

The next morning, the town was covered in a thick mist which made for some atmospheric views. The fish market was also just kicking into action, which was cool to see.

Early Morning FogEarly Morning Fog 2Early Morning Fog 3Venetian Fish Market

After that, we headed out to the docks and caught a ferry across the water for the 45 minute-or-so trip to the off-shore island of Burano. This island is famous for blowing colourful glass, and for having bright houses.

Burano Blue
Burano Red
Burano All the Colours
Burano Washing
Burano Glass

In Venice, the houses and the general state of the place was surpringly dirty. The whole city was in a pretty bad state of repair. Walls were crumbling, paint was flaking…. it all made it look very old and genuine, but also kinda dirty.

Burano was the opposite. While also being a canal city, it had a much stronger feel of being better-looked after. Also, the sun finally came out, so maybe that helped 🙂

It was like a smaller, brighter, better-cared for Venice. And the average age seemed to be about 70, so everyone seemed pretty relaxed. I’d never heard of the place, so I’m glad my friend insisted we go! Sadly, we only got a short time here before getting back to Venice in time for our train to Rome!

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