Ah, Venice :-) This is where I went mad and took a gazillion photos, but I have been ruthless and cut right down - and I won't share them all here, either - so I'm hoping this post will be manageable!
It was a really hot day, and Venice was *teeming* with people, so there was a certain level of discomfort involved to be honest - but even that couldn't detract from the fact that WE WERE IN VENICE!! And that it was an amazing, beautiful and unique place to be.
OK, so let's see some photos :-)
We got off the coach and transferred to near St Mark's Square by boat - so even the journey was special!
No traffic is allowed in Venice (other than boats, of course); it consists of a tangle of narrow pedestrianised streets, beautiful open spaces, the famous canals, and lots of bridges! From our landing point we crossed four bridges to end up at Piazza San Marco. We immediately joined the queue snaking right through the square from the entrance to the Basilica di San Marco, and as it slowly shuffled forward we drank in the facades of all the gorgeous buildings. One thing I noticed (and that this square is famous for) was the large number of pigeons! I went to take a photo of some of them and as I did so I suddenly felt something land on my head... It stayed there for ages, posing for photos on my camera and other people's, before sedately hopping onto the handle of our parasol and taking off for the nearby lamppost!
We did eventually get into the Basilica, which was stunning. No interior photos to share, but here are some exterior shots:
Next stop was the hugely impressive Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
The Children were particularly intrigued by the Giants' Staircase, which is watched over by statues of Mars and Venus. They also enjoyed spotting the winged lions, symbols of St Mark!
I liked seeking out interesting (to me, anyway) angles and views and glimpses and details...
It was also really interesting to see the prisons (from which Casanova once escaped!), and to cross the Bridge of Sighs, though sadly it and the surrounding walls were covered with scaffolding because of ongoing renovation work. Here's a view from the bridge itself:
We could easily have spent a whole day in the Doge's Palace but we were keen to see as much as we could, so we pressed on, passing the inevitable ranks of gondolas and stalls selling all kinds of souvenirs, including traditional masks:
After a very hasty lunch in a public park close to St Mark's Square (one of very few places in Venice where you're allowed to picnic!) I joined the queue to take the elevator to the top of the Camponile, while The Doctor and The Children struck off through the crowded narrow streets to try to get close to the Grand Canal. I made the right decision ;-) The views were just *stunning*...
The tower itself was originally built as a lighthouse in the late 12th century. Later it was used as a prison (a cage was hung from near the top and unfortunate victims were imprisoned within this cage). It was also the location used by Galileo to demonstrate his telescope to the then Doge, Leonardo Dona. Sadly this original tower collapsed suddenly in 1902 - crushing the building at its base and an unlucky cat, but fortunately with no other casualties. A new tower was built to replace it:
Oh! Those views!!
You can see the end of the Grand Canal in the very centre of the first photo here; the second shows the quieter part of St Mark's Square (it's a large L shape, and the part that opens onto the water is by far the busier!)
Well, this has turned into a mammoth post and I have yet more photos from our boat trip round the lagoon later that day, so I think I'll pause here and start a new post for the rest! Stay tuned... ;-)