WOW! It is amazing how 12 dry hours and a stellar blue sky changes moods, pictures, everything!
I hope I did not sound whiny about yesterdays’ rain. I mean…it IS Venice…and a day here, rain or shine, is amazing (even if it means wet, cold toes)
We did not sleep though alarms today…Up, showered, packed and to the front desk by 9. We decided to forgo the dismal breakfast (even if it means starting our day sans coffee of any type) We stored our backpacks…(OH…if you come to Venice…really try to make it a backpack trip…the cobblestones and bridges make rolling luggage a nightmare to maneuver with)…and headed out.
We passed the light fixture of yesterday…thought we followed the signs correctly…ended up here:
Let’s just say THESE guys are a lot easier to photograph when they are in a window!
The squares and streets were drying out nicely. People were out walking dogs. Life was coming back.
We arrive at St Marco and the Basilica to HORDES of people! So much for getting there early (Hey, Rick Steves….9:45 is too late to “beat the crowds” The good news is that much of the raised walkways were taken down….but there were hundreds of people already in line.
We really went back and forth about what to do. Should we wait? The scheduled opening was half an hour away. How fast would the line go? We figured we would wait and see how it went. Just being able to get IN The Square was SO much better than yesterday!
Take a close look at these pictures. The Waiters are wearing their “waders” to get their areas ready for breakfast and lunch:
Much of the scaffolding was still up
Very quickly the line started to move. Yes, tour groups got to into a “special door” but Rick Steves DOES give this tip…and it’s a good one….take your back pack to the entrance for “storing” luggage…hand it over…and voila …you are IN…no lines….no big wait…no booing from anyone who thinks you are “cutting” (which you are…but WHATEVER!!)
The door is behind the two lions and by the well:
There is no entrance fee to the church…you pay small fees for different parts…all of which were worth the price of admission.
The Church itself was having some flooding issues:
First was the Pala D’Oro, For 2 euro you walk through and around a super cool alter…but the showpiece is the jewel encrusted altarpiece. It was completed in 1342. I don’t know how big it officially is, but I could have spent forever looking at it. the signs, as we entered the church said “No Photos” and I obeyed…for a few minutes anyway
We paid to see the “Treasures” of St Marco (3 euro) which were off the hook crazy cool. Chalices..bones (yes, you are reading that right)…booty (their word) brought back from wars…all amazing, simple, complex…all history. What impressed me was the size of the candlesticks…and I wonder at how big the candles must have been…but then thinking about it…the churches were mammoth and with no electricity, they HAD to be huge right?
We moved through the Church again, still obeying the “no photo” rule…until we got to the St. Marco museum upstairs. There is a 5 euro charge for this. This is where I finally broke down and broke the rules. I made sure my flash was off (by taking a flash picture you age pictures by at least 7 years), so I figure the same must be true with mosaics, etc, but with my flash off…would God really mind? I hope not!
Downstairs the audio guide said the Treasury was the real “treasure” of the Church…but I think the museum upstairs is. It has many items encased: Altar Boy robes, tapestries, mosaics, candle sticks, alter books, the outside view from the roof, “The Horses” all there to just impress.
The climb to the museum, while not long, is a bit treacherous b/c the stairs are steep and deep. I really wish this part of St Marco had an audio guide…I would have been up there forever if there had been!
One really cool part of being up here is the cut out model of The Church itself. The detail of this is down to the tiny mosaic drawings to replicate the real thing. From up here you also get an amazing view of the entire church itself…this is where the real itch to take pictures started.
These two are straight out from the balcony and show some neat wall work.
THEN…the two quick inside pics I took…The Horses. They are from the 2nd or 3rd century, but were brought to Venice as “war booty” in about 1200AD. Now they are inside the church…brought in and restored in 1977. The ones out there now are fakes.
Both of these I took so quickly w/o aiming…though there was plenty of security up there stopping NO ONE from taking pics…but I think both of these are almost like post cards. These are stunning.
THEN…we got to move out to the roof where the square (still wet and under water) opened before us.
There were also some stunning views of the waterways and bell tower.
We made our way downstairs and all too soon we had to “find” our way back to our hotel, pick up our backpacks and walk to the train.
Here are some of those sights:
We knew we were heading in the right direction when we found….YES!!! The light fixture. We did a last minute check of internet…made out way to the train station, and were back in Florence by 5. I am so thankful we stayed the extra day and were rewarded with the beautiful blue skies.
Here we are on the train!
Here are our last views of Venice
I am still a little sad I did not get to sit in St Marco at night and see the city under lights…this is the 2nd time I did not do this…but it signals to me that I am not finished here and I will be back!