A Day in Venice

We headed to St Mark’s Square after breaking for lunch post our self guided tour down the Grand Canal. This is the only part of Venice I remember from my previous trip some 25 year prior with my parents, sister, and friend Damon. My parents had turned us loose at around 19 years of age and I think we hit various bars along St Mark’s and were shocked at the bill. I remember my sister meeting a boy who either shimmed up or down the drain spout (or both) of our hotel to come calling on her in the night. I remember being so thirsty from drinking that I grabbed an open soda can near the bedside stand and guzzled the contents only to soon realize a cigarette butt had been put out in it. I can remember visiting the bathroom in the hotel and at the airport the next morning repeatedly as I got sick from over-imbibing. And I can remember my father asking me at the airport if I’d like a nice tall glass of water as I sat green faced against a wall. I thought to myself, my father’s being awfully nice to me considering I went out drinking last night. He returned with a tall glass. I raised it to my mouth and could smell it wasn’t water but vodka. The smell sent me immediately running for the restroom where I got sick again.

So it was great to be seeing St. Mark’s again as a parent with my family. We went into St. Mark’s Basilica and were awe struck at the golden hued mosaics. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in St. Mark’s so I don’t have many images to share. However, I did pay extra to go behind the altar and see the Pala d’Oro (Golden Altarpiece) so felt I was entitled. With 15 large rubies, 300 emeralds, 1500 pearls, and other precious stones (all stolen as plunder in 1204) it was worth a tongue lashing from the guards, but I didn’t get caught.

We then ascended the staircase to the museum so we could see the La Quardriga (Bronze Horses) as well as a view of St. Mark’s Square. Again, pictures were not to be taken except outside. These horses are not the originals (they are inside the musuem and off limits for pictures) which date from 175 BC. 

Strolling past St. Mark’s and the Doge’s palace we passed by the Bridge of Sighs (named that by poet Lord Byron in the 1800s). This bridge connected the Doge’s Palace with the prison across the canal and was the route many a rightfully and wrongfully convicted man would travel to pass their sentence.

From here we wandered back streets and bridges off the beaten path towards our hotel (only getting lost a few times).

On our way back we found a restaurant we wanted to return to later that night for dinner. After a rest and change of clothes we strolled more back streets and stores for last minute gifts. We came across this funny sign and icon denoting a public toilet.

We then enjoyed one of the best meals of our trip at a quaint little hidden away seafood restaurant named Osteria L’Orto Dei Mori. It was a perfect way to end a few perfect days in Venice with far more memories made than my previous trip.

Aperol Spritz

Prawns and Pumpkin w/salad

Gnocchi w/Sordfish in a broccoli and leek sauce

Ravioli stuffed w/smoked riccotta and zuchini

Crepes w/prawns in spinach sauce

Ice cream w/pistachio, caramel sauce w/hazelnuts

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A Trip Down the Grand Canal

After visiting Murano we walked ourway through the tourist traps of the Strada Nova towards Ferrovia Train Station where we could catch Vaporetto 1. We plugged ourselves into Rick Steves and budget toured ourselves down the Grand Canal past the weathered, watered, and weary palaces. 

Ca’ d’Oro (House of Gold) – Quintessential Venitian Gothic

We disembarked at Merkato Rialto which houses the fish and vegetable market. Most of the stands were already shutting down for the day (or because it was Monday) but we stopped there for the traghetto (ghetto boat?). The traghetto is a gondola manned by official gondoliers who are obligated to volunteer for this public service a few days a month. This functions as a ferry crossing for only 2 Euros for a semi-gondola-like experience (at a fraction of the cost since a gondola rental can be 80-100 Euros). 

From here we walked winding back streets which opened into the occassional piazza and cross little bridges until we got the the main bridge – Rialto.

Hopping back on the vaporetto we continued down the Grand Canal past varied merchant palaces, University of Venice, Ca’ Rezzonico, and Peggy Guggenheim’s collection (now a musueum), the wooden Accademia Bridge, and the La Salute  Church. 

A few more stops and we were at San Marco and St. Mark’s Square. We passed the crowds and disembarked at San Zaccaria (1 stop beyond San Marco) for a quick lunch before braving the throngs of humanity and pigeons at Staint Mark’s Square. 

Salute! Cin Cin!

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Murano Glass Factory

Upon check-in we were told the hotel could arrange a complementary trip in the morning to Murano where all the Venetian glass is made. Although we knew it would be an up-sell to purchase glass we jumped at the chance to visit Murano and see the artists at work.

We left in a stately and self important looking private boat at 9:30 (shared with a few other guests) and headed down lonely canals and eventually away from Venice towards Murano. 

View from our room


View from our room

Heading away from Boscolo Hotel down canal

The slow decay of Venice

Clara leaving Venice for Murano

Leaving Venice for Murano

In the 1200s all glass factories were banned from Venice for fear of fire to the island of Murano. A much more industrial island it also looks to be in a slow motion decay.

Once in the glass factory were were treated to a tour and explanation of the craft. The master craftsman (the younger person) was working on a single light shade for a large chandelier. We saw him start from a mere bowl and attach pieces of glass, form them into petals, and shape them into the graceful curve to match the rest of the set.

This is the process used to ultimately create lamps such as this:

Next we were treated to a glass blowing and bottle making demonstration.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the galleries but were obliged to go through each one of them with a commentary. No prices were spoken, but if you had to ask you probably couldn’t afford one anyway.

We jumped the next boat back to the Boscolo to enjoy our day in Venice.


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Train to Venezia

Having gone to bed near 2am after several bottles of Tom’s exceptional Euro-Find-Wines finds we found ourselves oversleeping a bit. We woke in time to pack ourselves up, catch a quick breakfast with Tom and Heather, grab a few last minute electrons, and reach the Spoleto train station in time. We boarded the train, releaved to make the train but worried our ticket wouldn’t be accepted as it had already been time stamped and punched the day before. But I had time stamped the wrong side of the ticket and the hole punch had a hanging chad. I licked, positioned and squeeze that chad back into its hole as best I could and validate the proper side fot he ticket. Wringing my hands about what to tell a potentially non-English speaking conductor if we were caught I decided honesty was the best policy. As the conductor came down the isle I thought to myself, “Calmé” and handed him our tickets and started to explain the discrepancies, “…Yesterday…we, uh”. But he took the ticket, punched it clear thru, handed it back to me before I could form a sentence and said “Tiburtina is the next stop” and he went on to the next set of passengers, two young Japanese women whom where sitting in first class with a second class ticket. He made them pay a fine (and purchase a first class ticket) on the spot, 60 Euros. Ouch. Calmé.

Our next stress came from having only 20 minutes in Tiburtina to find the Frecciargento TrenItalia high speed train to Venezia. We hustled ourselves off the regional train and schlepped our luggage up the escalator of Platform 6 and into the station to find a schedule board so we could find our next platform. The train to Venezia was leaving from platform 6. We schlepped ourselves back platform 6, found the space for our car and waited for the train to arrive. Calmé…

Frecciargento 9430 to Venezia

The train showed up on time and we slipped into the very stylish and modern first class seats. No sooner did the train leave the station than a beverage cart came along and offered us a complimentary glass of prosecco! Grazie! It was calmé all the way to Venice.

On the train I called the Boscolo Hotel to find the best way to the hotel from the station. “You can take the #4.2 or #5.2 Vaporetto (the public boat) for 7 Euro each and get off at the Orto stop and its a short 5 minute walk, or you can hire a private taxi speed boat for abou 70 Euro.”We made our way to the vaporetto stop, bought 24 hour tickets (so we could take it down the Grand Canal tomorrow), and hopped on the 4.2. It was twilight and Venice was beautiful from the boat.

Venice at sunset

Boscolo Hotel

The Boscolo greeted us with Murano glass chandelliers, and a complementary room upgrade to a junior suite! Clara got her own room up the stairs from us. To top things off, just after our bags arrived so did two glasses of wine and two martini glasses filled with gelato. 

Murano glass chandelliers in Boscolo lobby

Junior suite upgrade!

Tired from our 5.5 hour train trip we wanted something simple for dinner. The hotel recommended Pizzeria Visuvius so we walked there for a quick bite before wandering the back canal streets and tourist traps along the main streets and piazzas.  

Prosciutto and gorgonzola pizza

Gorgonzola bianca w/spicy sausage

Murano glass for the tourists

Venician masks for the tourists

One of the narrow walkways to our canal

Hotel Boscolo

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