Easy for me to say from the cushy confines of our suite at The Gritti Palace. I'm thinking back to all my visits...I loved it just as much when we were fighting off the mosquitos because we had to sleep with the windows open - no air conditioning at the cheap hotel by the train station. I loved it when I was only here for a day visit with some of my students. I loved it when I didn't know any better and thought an expensive drink with the band playing on the Piazza San Marco was the height of sophistication. I still love the trip down the Grand Canal on the #1 vaporetto, and I will ALWAYS make the pilgrimage to the Frari church, if only to say hello to Monteverdi and Titian's Assunta.
Yes, Venice is overpriced, overcrowded, hot in the summer, and will wear you down. But the rewards are great for those willing to stick around once the cruise ship passengers and day-trippers have departed. La Serenissima at sunset and beyond is magic. You MUST experience it for yourself.
The first evening of our Venice trip we attended a unique concert of newly-discovered Baroque music at St George's Anglican Church. It rained a bit on the way to the concert, but afterwards the skies cleared, revealing a perfect sunset. We enjoyed the view over the Grand Canal before strolling to dinner at Osteria alle Testiere.
The next day, a Sunday, we visited the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which is housed in her former palazzo directly across the Grand Canal from The Gritti Palace. It was fun to hop in a traghetto just outside the hotel for the short ride across the canal. Two euros for the poor man's gondola ride!
We also needed to do our laundry, since it was about a week into the trip. The laundrette was about a 5 minute walk from the San Zacarria vaporetto stop. BAM - done in about an hour and a half. I actually look forward to Laundry Day - it's always an adventure trying to find the place and figure out the machines. We meet some of the NICEST, most helpful people on these excursions. Speaking of vaporetti...we paid 40 euro each for a 72 hour transit pass, which covered unlimited vaporetto rides, including out to Murano, Burano,and Torcelli. Since each ride was 7.50 euro, the pass paid for itself very quickly. Venice IS a walking city, but it's also nice to hop on and off a boat when you need one.
After a quick visit to San Marco Sunday afternoon and a nap, we spent the evening on a baccari tour with Alessando Schezzani. Alessandro is a Venetian with a lot of opinions and a love of good wine. I highly recommend his tour! You can reach him to schedule a tour of your own at email@example.com.
Monday we wandered around Murano, took a tour of the lagoon on the #2 vaporetto, and then visited the Basilica dei Frari. The Assunta is undergoing a much-needed restoration and is not visible to the public right now. Which means we'll have to schedule another Venetian visit once the restoration is complete - oh darn!
Tuesday morning we hopped on the vaporetto over to San Giorgio Maggiore. I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner! There were very few people in the church - and best of all - no wait to take the elevator up to the top of the bell tower for incredible views of Venice. The artist Sean Scully has installed a wonderful exhibition in the church called HUMAN. You can walk inside his sculpture entitled "Opulent Ascension" installed in the central dome of the nave.
Sadly, Tuesday afternoon arrived all too quickly and it was time to say goodbye to Venezia. The Italy segment of our trip is over and we've moved on to Croatia now...and brought a heat wave with us. We didn't do very well in Rovinj today, but I'm hoping that our journey to Lake Plitvices tomorrow is uneventful and COOLER. Thanks for reading, friends. Keep on travelin'. It's worth it.