Just before we left for this trip, Brittany showed Emma some photos of the "big" things (Colosseum, gondolas, Eiffel Tower, etc.). Emma couldn't wait for the gondola ride! I don't blame her~it was pretty awesome. Here's our gondolier. He was such a nice guy!
Here are some of the sights we enjoyed as we rode along the canals.
You can take a girl out of Boston, but you can't take Boston out of a girl!
After the gondola ride, we explored the Basilica of San Marco. "This awesome Basilica, built on a Greek cross plan and crowded with five huge domes, is the third church to stand on this site. The first, built to enshrine the body of St. Mark in the 9th century, was destroyed by fire. The second was pulled down in the 11th century in order to make way for a more spectacular edifice designed by an unknown architect (1063-94), reflecting the escalating power of the Republic. The basilica continued to be remodeled over the following centuries, and in 1807 it succeeded San Pietro in the sestiere of Castello as the cathedral of Venice; it had until then served as the doge's private chapel for State ceremonies... St. Mark's body, believed lost in the fire of AD 976, supposedly reappeared when the new church was consecrated in 1094. The remains are housed in the altar." (Dk Eyewitness Travel: Venice, pages 78-79.)
Unfortunately, cameras were forbidden inside the basilica. I understand the reasoning behind it, but it was so beautiful and I would have loved to take some photos. I did get two more photos before we entered.
In my first post about Venice, I mentioned the Torre del Orloggio (Clock Tower), the world's first digital clock that was built in the 15th century. "Displaying the phases of the moon and the zodiac, the gilt and blue enamel clock was orinally designed with seafarers in mind. A story was spread by scandalmongers that once the clock was complete, the two inventors of the complex clock mechanism had their eyes gouged out to prevent them from ever creating a replica... At the very top are two huge bronze figures, known as the Mori, or Moors, which strike the bell on the hour." (Dk Eyewitness Travel: Venice, page 77.) Adds Wikipedia, "It was placed where the clock would be visible from the waters of the lagoon and give notice to everyone of the wealth and glory of Venice." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Mark's_Clocktower)
Then we checked out the Doge's Palace. (The doge was the chief magistrate of Venice.) "The Palazzo Ducale started life in the 9th century as a fortified castle, but this and several subsequent buildings were destroyed by a series of fires. The existing palace owes its external appearance to the building work of the 14th and early 15th centuries. The designers broke with tradition by perching the bulk of the pink Verona marble palace on lace-like Istrian stone arcades, with a portico supported by columns below. The result is a light and airy masterpiece of Gothic architecture." (Dk Eyewitness Travel: Venice, page 84.)
"From the early days of the Republic, the Doge's Palace was the seat of the government, the Palace of Justice and the home of the doge... The power of the Serenissima is ever present in the large and allegorical historical paintings which embellish the walls and ceilings of the splendid halls and chambers. The ornate rooms are testament to the glory of the Venetian Republic, and were designed to impress and overawe visiting ambassadors and dignitaries." (Dk Eyewitness Travel: Venice, page 86.) Once again, photos were not allowed inside, but I did get quite a few of the exterior. For us, the Doge's Palace was the most interesting thing we saw in Venice except, of course, for the gondolas.
This is a bronze wellhead in the courtyard.
Check out my sweetie pie striking the statue's pose.
These were the ceremonial stairs.
The Doge's Palace includes a torture chamber and prisons. I took these next photos from the Bridge of Sighs (the bridge connecting the palace to the prison) so named because as prisoners crossed over to the prison, they would sigh as they caught their last view of Venice.
I took this photo for Emma~you know much she loved the Italian pigeons.
In my first Venice post, I showed you these photos of the Campanile.
The kids and Emma went to the top to take photos. I was so incredibly overheated that I decided to find a bench in the shade. (I think that's a clear sign that I'm getting older. I remember being a kid and going to Disneyland, where my parents always found a shady bench to occupy while my brothers and I explored. I thought that meant they were old. Now look who's sitting on the shady bench!) Anyway, check out these photos they took from the top.
"It was from this viewpoint that Galileo demonstrated his telescope to Doge Leonardo Dona in 1609... The first tower, completed in 1173, was built as a lighthouse to assist navigators in the lagoon. In the Middle Ages, it took on a less benevolent role as the support for a torture cage where offenders were imprisoned and in some cases left to die." (DK Eyewitness Travel: Venice, page 76.)
These are the bells in the tower.
I spotted this Murano glass pigeon in a store window. I bought it for Emma to commemorate "Pigeon Times Square," She, of course, loves it!
Here's the scoop on Emma and her fans (actual fans, not "fans of Emma" fans like me, ha ha). When Keaton went to Paris in November, he brought Emma a beautiful fan. A few months ago, Rick brought her a fan from South Korea. Mommy added to Emma's collection with this very traditional Venetian lace fan. Aww....she's such a little lady!
We strolled along the Grand Canal and stopped for dinner.
Emma LOVED the strawberry sundae that our server made for her as a special treat. Yup, she ate every last bite!
Before calling it a night, we stopped for one last Italian cappuccino at an outdoor cafe in Piazza San Marco.
A water taxi greeted us early the next morning to transport us to the Venice airport. Along the way, we saw this gorgeous building, the Scuola Grande di San Marco. Originally used as a center for charitable works, it was later converted to a hospital.
This was our view as we pulled away from Piazza San Marco. The Campanile is in the background. I like the water splash off the rear of our water taxi.
Here's Miss Emma saying, "Ciao, Venice!"
And here she is enjoying the ride as the taxi sped across the water.
I brought home a few things from Venice. Since I hadn't found any boxes to add to my collection (unless I wanted to pay more than $300 for one, which I didn't), Rick suggested a perfume bottle. I found this one made of Murano glass. I suppose I could actually use it for perfume, but I like the way it looks as a piece of art instead.
Last year, my dear friend, Arlene, gave me this writing quill, ink pot, and ink powder. She knew the writer in me would love it, and she was right!
In Venice, I picked up this seal stamp made of Murano glass. I thought it would look cool next to the quill and ink pot.
That ends our Italian adventure. Next stop: Paris!