After our lovely breakfast of rolls and cappuccino in our room, we headed to St. Mark’s. We took Rick Steve’s advice and checked our bags across from the cathedral, getting a pass to get in without waiting in line. We were there so early, it really didn’t make a difference, but it was nice to walk around unencumbered.
I didn’t realize there would be such a difference in the cathedrals. I thought we’d see opulence and glory in every place even though the layout would basically be the same. But St. Mark’s was very different from St. Peter’s, just as all the cathedrals were different from each other, each having a special feature. St. Mark’s was dark with tarnished gold frescos everywhere. Where St. Peter’s was bright and reflecting the glory of God, St. Mark’s was oppressive and shaking it’s index finger at you saying, “You will be moral!” It was beautiful in it’s own way.
St. Mark’s has many areas roped off where the floor is wavy and dangerous to walk on, caused by flooding every night when the tide comes in. So, you basically walk in line through the church, not so much wandering around on your own. We couldn’t take pictures inside, so you can go here to see some pictures.
If you go, don’t miss seeing the Pala d’Oro. You’ll have to pay a euro, but it’s worth it to see the most amazing example of Byzantine artwork. It’s 2 parts, the screen to cover the altar and a wooden box. It’s gold with embedded jewels, glorifying the evangelist and containing his relics. Here’s a picture from the Basilica San Marco website:
As I was looking at everything around the altar, I heard an older couple talking. The husband asked, “Who’s Mark?” The wife sighed and said, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! Sheesh!”
After the basilica, it was off the Murano to see the glass blowers. Murano Chamber of Commerce is working hard to publicize their home and get people to come over and shop, so they offer free water taxi rides if you’ll watch the glass blowers’ presentation. Since that was our goal anyway, we took them up on the offer. It’s a faster way to get there, but it’s very bumpy as the speed boat slaps against the waves from other speed boats.
Al took this picture just for me!
I love watching glass blowers. It’s amazing what they can do, and the men at Murano are real artists. After wards, we walked around the factory and was quickly overwhelmed by everything there was to look at. Our friend M really wanted a tea set to go with the glasses she already had from her time stationed in Italy, but at $5,000, they decided there were other pretty tea pots to be found. We bought a lovely bud vase and an angel, disappointing the salesman who always seemed to be near when we picked up something. Thus the real reason for the free taxi ride—please buy our glass direct. But you don’t have to. Actually, go have lunch and wander around the shops. Everyone makes glass there. Here are some pictures of the factory and the town:
When we got back to Venice, we did what all good tourists do, we took a gondola ride. I don’t want to be disrespectful or sound like some kind of snob, but I kind of feel like, “been there, done that” when it comes to the gondola ride. It’s outrageously expensive. We paid over 80 Euros, and that was during the day. It’s over 100 at night. And if you want singing, that’s extra because you have to hire a singer. Luckily, there are so many people taking gondola rides that we didn’t have to pay to hear a wonderful tenor singing on another boat. It is a lovely way to see the city and it could be romantic if it wasn’t for the throngs of people everywhere. I guess I’m a partly cloudy romantic. But if I ever go back, and sure hope I do, I’m going to skip the gondola ride. Here are some pictures from the ride:
After the gondola ride, we hit the shops on the Rialto Bridge. It's pretty overwhelming, but it's also full of things we'd seen in other shops. Contrary to popular belief, I can get bored with shopping. Here's a picture of the bridge:
We had another amazing dinner and another wonderful evening of talking and drinking wine with our friends.
Then it was time for bed to get a good night’s sleep before our next train ride. Next, Florence!