I’m experiencing a surreal writer’s block when it comes to my final day in Venice. Perhaps the Italians cast a magic spell on me that is keeping me in a fog and will prompt a return visit sooner than I would have otherwise in order to restore my memories. Not to worry. I have no desire to stay away. In fact, many days I feel “homesick for Italy“.
After enjoying a deluxe breakfast at our hotel, the Ca Favretto, consisting of the standard Italian buffet fare (prosciutto, cheeses, fruits, Nutella, pastries and coffee) we spent a little time on the hotel balcony overlooking the Grand Canal on this beautiful sunny morning watching the daily tourist and supply boats coming from Mestre (the mainland).
We left our hotel fairly early this day and immediately set off on foot, up and over the Rialto Bridge for San Marco Piazza. Once we arrived at the piazzetta di san marco, we entered the Doge’s Palace and started exploring the grounds and numerous rooms. The Doge’s Palace, also known as the Palazzo Ducale, is a gothic palace facing the Venetian lagoon. Its gothic beauty is a stunning and breathtaking vision in white and took from 1309 until the early 1400′s to construct. The Doge, or supreme head of the Venetian government resided in the palace and its many rooms also accommodated large meeting places for the Venetian ruling families. The palace is also connected to the prison by the Bridge of Sighs.
The exterior courtyards reveal at least a hundred sculptures and carvings as well as an elegant stairway, called the scala dei giganti that leads into the palace (but can no longer be walked upon by visitors). I believe the two beautiful larger than life sculptures flanking each side of the stairs are Mars and Neptune carved by Sansovino. Their detail is so amazing and lifelike, much like the details of Michelangelo’s David.
Inside the palace, my favorite rooms were the prison, the map room and the Sala del Collegio (large meeting room), where you can find portraits of all of the doge’s who served over time except one, the decapitated and disgraced doge who attempted a coup d’etat. His frame has his portrait painted over in solid black.
After our palace tour, we sat for some time just outside the Doge’s Palace on the steps of the lagoon facing the gondolas and did some amazing international people watching. On our final day in Venice, my little boy and I embarrassingly enjoyed a record three gelatos in one day. My daughter maintained her dignity and figure and treated herself to just one! If you can’t do this on your final day of vacation, when can you? We also enjoyed a great deal of shopping on our final day and found no shortage of Murano glass, chinese “italian” glass (beware), jewelry (glass and gold) and carnival masks.
We returned to our hotel room and popped a bottle of nice red wine while we dressed for our final night out in Italy. While many people no longer dress for dinner in Venice, this evening was special to our family and will be remembered for a lifetime. As we departed our hotel in search of the perfect restaurant along the Grand Canal we were once again approached by many “waiters” asking us to come to their establishment. One young Italian man said to my daughter ”I remember you…but you don’t remember me….since you didn’t come to our restaurant last night, please come tonight”. Since they were not located on the canal, they stood no chance this evening.
So many guests were dining along the canal on this beautiful mild evening and this did look very inviting. We reviewed a number of menu’s while waiter’s swarmed nearby. One said to me “Madam, what do you want…a canal side table? I can make you a canal side table.” As he said that, first I thought and then I said “why yes, that is exactly what I would like tonight.” And so it was. The waiters picked up two tables and carried them down the sidewalk until the row of tables came to an end, and there, in the dimly lit canal light, we had the loveliest dinner in Venice. My husband had sea bass, my son had a pizza margherita and my daughter and I had pasta. I had heard so much about the Venetian Pinot Grigios that I couldn’t resist and my husband ordered a red.
After dinner we strolled slowly back to our hotel stopping at the lovely and extremely quiet and serene Rialto Bridge for more photos. We found many of the narrow streets and passageways deserted this evening. We felt safe in this city and imagined how exotic this town must be during the carnival with guests roaming these same streets in masks, as they have done for centuries.
It was a night to remember. We departed early the next morning and took a short scenic boat ride over to the Marco Polo Airport. What a beautiful airport to depart from. We took a short flight over the alps to Amsterdam before making the longest leg of our return trip to Detroit. Venice from the sky was lovely and allowed a tourist to see the winding grand canal and numerous islands, neighborhoods and boats from above this magnificent locale.
Honestly, I had earlier reservations about visiting Venice. I feared the birds would be uncontrollable, bugs and insects undesirable and canals smelly. None of this was true. Venice is a gem in a country of jewels. Our entire trip was an adventure filled with lovely colorful Italians and historic treasures and masterpieces. With a comfortable amount of wealth, it would be very easy to become an expatriate in this country and is easy to see why so many American and English have done so. I believe I could adjust to living in Italy. I just need to learn the language.