Today we headed off to Saint Mark’s Basilica. We wanted to get there early as the line up can be very long. It opens at 9:45 so we wanted to be there just before then. Of all the good laid plans. We left the hotel in lots of time, but got side tracked because we had to go check out the fish market first. Then as we were crossing the Rialto bridge, Vangie and Cathy had an emergency case of “I have to shop now” ism and our schedule was off the rails.
Which really was ok, we got to the Basilica about 10 minutes later than we had planned and there was only about 500 people in front of us. We were kind of surprised how many folks were there, but the line moved very quickly and we were inside within about 20 minutes.
The Basilica it self is beautiful, lots of gold leaf and mosaics. The author Rick Steves describes the mosaics as being about the size of a football field but made of of parts the size of a contact lens. They are pretty amazing.
The front of the Basilica has the remains of Saint Mark. Not sure why they want to display a dead guys remains and build around it, but hey, it’s Italy. St. Mark’s remains were stolen by two Venetian from Alexandria in 828 and brought back to Venice. (They have several mosaics depicting this)
The building itself is very cool, old but large and impressive. The current building was built in 1071, so almost a thousand years ago.
We finished off our tour with a trip to the top balcony of the Basilica that over looked the square. it is quite an impressive view from there.
From the square we headed into the smaller areas of Venice in search of a Gondola so we could go on a Gondola ride. You can’t come to Venice without going on a Gondola ride, right?
We found our place and waited in line as the Gondolas came by and dropped off and picked up people. I think Vangie and Cathy were disappointed in our guy, as he was not the “hunk” they were hoping for. We went around some of the narrow canals and ended up on the Grand Canal for a short bit. It is a lovely way to see the city at a very leisurely (but expensive) pace.
From hear we started towards the Frari Church. But first we had to stop for lunch. Today it was in a small trattorie along one of the narrow streets in Venice. We were lucky enough to get a small table outside so we could watch the world go by as we ate our lunch. People watching could be something I could do here full time. No lack of characters.
The Frari Church was very different from the Basilica, it had much more open space and some beautiful paintings that were the originals, and you could still view them in their original location, in the light they were meant to be seen in. They started to build this church in 1250, but it was not finished till 1338. Artists such as Giovanni Bellini (Madonna and Child), and Donatello (figure of St John the Baptist), among many others. They also have monuments to some famous dead people that are buried here too. (like Doge’s and politicians as well as composer Claudio Monteverdi.
After our visit to the Frari, we had to have our daily Gelato and then we headed back towards our Hotel. Before we arrive there Vance decided to get his hair cut in Venice at Coiffeur Benito, recommended by Rick Steves. So Vance, Vangie and Cathy ventured off to see Vance get quaffed. I went back to the hotel to put my feet up and kick back.
Cathy and Vangie arrived back at the hotel a short time later, armed with cheese, bread, olives and wine. Time for the afternoon snack. It was yummy. We sat around talking about the day and planning tomorrow. Editing photos and showing each other what photos we had. Vance showed up with his new cut, looking might fine.
After our snacking, Vangie, Vance and Cathy headed out for dinner and I put my feet up again. When they got back, it sounded like I missed a very average meal. Now off to bed, tomorrow we pack up and take the train to Florence.