WARNING: This blog entry contains entirely unnecessary explicit language. This is not the fault of the Venetians, as both they and their city are absolutely lovely. It’s due mainly to my inability–having been born and raised in a landlocked shithole full of nothing but strip malls and Baptist churches–to be able to grasp the beauty of a city like Venice without throwing around the word “fuck” a few times. So if you’re offended by naughty words, please click here.
Now, for everyone who isn’t an elderly schoolmarm:
As I travel more and more, I have learned to temper my urge to take countless photos of the same thing and/or area. This sort of camera-clicking compulsion makes sorting through photos later and writing blog entries a chore; I was thus beginning to make some real progress at cutting back a bit. After all, I realize that friends, family, and followers are sitting on the edge of their seats, unable to sleep, in anticipation of my vacation photos. So why keep them waiting longer than necessary?
Alas, the promise I made to myself (and to my partner, who must endure my neverending cries of “Wait a second! This would be a good photo!”) to not take so many photos of the same bird, stained glass window, or filthy riverbed, was broken this past weekend. And here I sit, trying to sort through them so I don’t overload WordPress with my little slideshows. It was really, really difficult to edit these, because Venice is fucking stunning. There is no other way for me to describe it.
My first entertaining slideshow will be from our journeys around the city itself; the streets, the buildings, the canals. What have you:
One of my favorite things about this trip was that we deliberately chose not to plan anything until we got there. We’ve found we enjoy ourselves more when we ignore the urge to scan guidebooks ahead of time and meticulously plan everything. Let me tell you, Missy: that is a recipe for nothing but stress. And this is fucking Venice (I warned you about the language)! So we decided to be a bit more impulsive. Venice is the perfect city to be impulsive, too. It is small enough to walk around on foot (provided you are healthy and have a strong back and knees; the ups and downs of stairs over canals is not for the elderly or infirm) without feeling too overwhelmed, but hopping with enough activities and attractions to make a visitor feel as if they got the full Venice experience. No matter what you choose, you really can’t lose.
We stumbled upon the Teatro La Fenice (The Venice Theater) while wandering the streets. It was not planned, but it was a pleasant accident. The original theater was opened in 1792, burned down in 1836, restored, and then burned down again in 1996. Restored again in 2003, this beautiful theater is not to be missed. Mainly because it seems to burn down a lot. See it while it’s still standing!
Though we did almost no advance planning for this trip, we had run into an acquaintance at the Luxembourg airport the day we flew out, and she recommended the Scuola Grande di San Rocco. It was constructed between 1517 and 1527, and consists of an exquisitely ornate ground floor hall, a grand staircase, an even more enchanting upper great hall, and several side rooms. The walls and ceilings of the lower and upper grand rooms are covered with paintings by Tintoretto. Unfortunately, they do not allow photos to be taken inside (and actually enforce it, unlike many of the places we went), but anyone who loves art and architecture should check this place out. There is an informative audio tour available, and only takes about an hour and a half.
Doge’s Palace/Palazzo Ducale, along with Basilica of St. Mark (which we did not stand in line to visit because there was plenty to see without walking into yet another ornately decorated church), are the cornerstones of the Piazza San Marco, the main square in Venice. The Doge was the head of state during the days of the Republic of Venice, and the palace that exists today was built starting around the 14th Century. There are convenient audio guides in several languages for tourists, and–though we didn’t see it–there was also a Manet exhibit there while we toured. So the palace alone can take several hours of a tourist’s day. It is more than worth it, though. Though they don’t allow photos of the inside (which again houses some great artwork by Tintoretto and other notable painters), the courtyard and external structures are fair game.
Across from the palace is the St Mark’s Campanile (bell tower). For those with a fear of heights, it’s only 323 feet high (about 10 stories), and there is an elevator that will take you to the top (an internal one, not an Eiffel Tower/Seattle Space Needle “Let’s put a glass elevator on the outside” sort of nonsense). So calm down and check it out. There are some beautiful views of Venice from the top. One word of warning: the bells are fully functional and do ring while you are up there. Loudly. Your ears will recover, though, so don’t whine about it.
Another great find while wandering the streets was The Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The building housing it originally began as a palace in 1748, but was left unfinished. Guggenheim purchased the house in 1949 and actually lived there. She opened her collection to the public the same year with an exhibit in the garden. Her ashes are placed in a corner of this garden.
Home to an amazing collection of Cubist, Abstract, and Surrealist art, this is a can’t miss attraction for any art lover. It houses work by Picasso, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Dali, Rothko, Pollock, Warhol, and many others. Technically, photos are not allowed. I had fully intended to honor this rule, until I saw that evey other guest was snapping away without any scolding. So I joined in the lawbreaking.
There is another major component to our trip (a three island tour to Murano, Burano, and Torcello), but I will need to write about that in an addendum. I have a plane to catch to Riga, Latvia at the moment, and after that will be in Stockholm, Sweden. More later!