Monday, September 28, 2009

Sept. 28, 2009

It has been a whirlwind few days.. I keep saying that don't I.. well we haven't been letting any grass grow under our feet..

My sister asked me if we've gotten lost yet.. I think the more appropriate question is when have we NOT gotten lost.. the maze that is Venice is... amazing.....

On Friday, the 25th, we headed back to the train station to take a tour of the Grand Canal .. with Rick Steve in our ear it gave us a wonderful orientation and then it was onto St. Mark's Square where we purchased our musem passes and caught our first gander of it all.. we splurged and sat in the square people watching and listening to the restaurant's orchestra play.. There were too many people to fight to get into St. Marks so we decided to get lost.. and that we did.. for the next several hours we just wandered from alleyway to campo, to church to canal. We did stop for awhile to sketch and then continued on our way.. We must have wandered for about 5 hours before we ended up at the train station which is the main gateway for most visitors to Venice.

We have been trying to draw and or paint a little every day.. you will see from the photos a little of our progress.. Rick is doing studies in pencil and I am venturing forth into ink and water color.. Everywhere we look there is something we want to capture... (actually, we'll post art photos in the next blog,,,

Have I mentioned Rick Steve's yet? Do not plan a trip anywhere in Europe without one of his guide books.. we have yet to stand in a line for anything because of his tips!! Anyway, I digress.. on Saturday we got up very early to visit St. Marks Cathedral (1100 ad) and the Doges Palace (1370).. The Cathedral is a mishmash of styles showing an attempt to keep up with the Jones' even back then! They have an Ottoman influence, Greek and who knows what else. The inside shimmers with gold.

The Doges palace was where the grand poobah of Venice lived and held government. I had forgotten that Venice wasn't part of the Italian state until the late 1866. The family apartments were nothing to write home about but the government rooms are amazing.. the art and decoration.. the floors and ceilings.. not sure about the obsession with ceilings, but they are impressive..

Venice is definitely in transition.. they loose about 1,000 people a year- and with a population of only 60,000 that is nothing to sneeze at.. especially since the population is older. The fear is that eventually Venice will become Disneyland for adults.. already there are huge billboards and I mean humngous advertisements of companies helping with restoration of various buildings... it is quite a disconnect.. (Disney is no where to be found)..

By the afternoon we were peopled out and so caught a vaparetto out to Murano island.. reknown for its glass blowing. If the heart of Venice is on speed, Murano is laid back central.. where in the heart of Venice there are barkers calling you into restaurants and shops... in Murano you might have to wake the shopkeeper up from their nap.. The buildings are also shorter so there is a feeling of more space and breath.. it was a lovely counterpoint and we enjoyed visiting the Glass Museum.. My Nana always said that the perfect woman could do anything but pee in a bottle.. at the Museum they had bottles for the toilet from the 1st century and I wondered if this was an early attempt to test the theory. We couldn't figure out what else they were for..

Yesterday, in honor of the coming of Yom Kippur we spent in the Jewish Ghetto, where there is a debate whether Jews have been here since 1100 or 1300.. either way... it's a long time.. There are three synagogues dating back to the 1500s, and two other that came along a few hundred years later. Unlike the area churches, the synagogues are all but invisible from the outside, with the only demarcation being five windows of slightly greater size than the others near it. To imagine this small community of over 2,000 confined to this teenie space is incredible.. and yet again a tribute to the spirit of the Jewish people. It was actually Napoleon who brought down the ghetto walls and decreed that there would no longer be a ghetto.. Go figure.. There are only 500 Jews left in Venice but you can feel the Jewish presence wherever you go.

It hasn't all been idyllic, we flooded the bathroom when we tried to use the washing machine and the apartment looks like I don't know what with our laundry all over the place.. and then of course people have been stopping us on the street wanting to play connect the dots with the mosquito bites all over our faces.. the mosquitos have actually declared a national holiday and celeberation in our honor..

Naples is our next stop.. for some reason the link isn't copying..
just google, Hotel Excelsior in Naples, Italy...

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