Saturday, June 18, 2011


Well, I think we can safely say Venice is the most beautiful city in the world. It’s the water. The colour is the canal is a beautiful blue-green and sets off the rotting old palazzo’s wonderfully. We started our exploration of Venice with a self-guided Rick Steve’s tour on the slow boat. The family cameras clicked endlessly as every second seemed photo worthy. Our heads were on swivels, our eyes and mouths wide open in awe of this man-made dream world.

You’ve heard about the roads of water before but it is difficult to truly appreciate this wonder until you are here. There are no cars. There are no motocycles. There aren’t even any bicycles that we’ve seen. People are either on foot or are on the ater. It is magical. Some of it almost seems Disney-esque – a huge compliment to Disney but not so much to Venice.

We learned that the population of Venice is shrinking by 1000 people each year. Planners are afraid the city will soon become one giant museum. In talking to our hosts, they said the cost of living in the city is prohibitive. A small residence costs almost one million dollars and that is before the costs of renovation. Maintenance is also pricey as flooding is frequent. New construction is out of the question and maintaining the posh old buildings in such a damp climate is a challenge. Then there is the challenge of living in a city with no motorized vehicles on land and over 400 bridges. Getting your daily needs in and out is more effort. Buying in the city is more costly. All of these factors are contributing to drive citizens onto the mainland.

We visited Saint Mark’s Basilica on Saint Mark’s Square. Our favourite story there was about the dedication of the building. First of all, they built the place with “found” materials. They “found” marble and columns throughout the Mediterranean and hauled them on back to construct Saint Marks. The result is a unique looking building combining a quilt-like variety of colours and patterns and styles. The domes and mosaics look Byzantine, the columns look Greek and the arched top of the façade is sort of French-Gothic. Very multi-cultural.

They decorated the interior with more treasures they “found” in Constantinople. One of the Venetian crusades was sacking Constantinople, another Christian city. There must have been some confusion about who one sacks for the glory of God. At any rate, the whole place was built to house the bones of Saint Mark, one of the authors of the Bible. They had “rescued” his bones from being sacked by the un-Christian masses invading Egypt. Unfortunately, by the time the basilica was finished they couldn’t remember where they had put his bones. I would have loved to have seen THAT whole scenario play out. It runs like an Abbott and Costello routine in my head. Cleverly, the priest had everyone pray and sure enough, the priest had a vision of where the bones were. Well, thank goodness, eh? Another embarrassing “memory lapse” moment averted.

Our favourite part of being in Venice was just wandering the lanes. You never knew when you would round a corner onto some little picturesque sight. Gondolas were everywhere and flower boxes decorate the narrower canals in places making beautiful little scenes. We didn’t take a gondola ride because they were out of our price range but we did take lots of pictures of them. There used to be thousands and thousands of gondolas but today there are only around 500. It sure seems like more when you are wandering. They are all black because of a law passed back in the day that tried to prevent families from using identifying colours “gang style” on their gondolas. Inter-family fighting was commonplace in Italy during the Renaissance.


Chris udovich said...

I totally agree with your Venice blog...I also thought about Disney here, because of the "magical" effect it has on you.

Love the picture of your daughter with the mask on...what mystique it adds! said...

LOVED all the pictures! And it was GREAT talking to you and SEEING you today. Hope your connection with the Lloyds worked too. Any plans for Julia's birthday? I hope Julia is bringing the mask home...she looks fantastic! All pictures were great. Love Mom