01home02babybrain05lifelist04tastebuds08bbbs10roguewedding11nerdybirdy12travels

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Europe Day 17, Venice: A Living Museum

The city of Venice has a rich and colorful history. Being so closely situation with the water trade was a very large part of Venice industry. Because of its trade Venice is labeled by many instances as Europe’s most wealthy city and because of that vast wealth a heavy influencer of art and music. Now their economy is primarily based on tourism and is wildly successful as one of the most important tourist destinations in the world. We found out around 50,000 tourists visit Venice per day and seriously I think we bumped shoulders with each and every one of them.

081110_veniceCity09
THE STREETS WERE PACKED

Built around 429 by plunging closely spaced wood piles into the water through the sand to the harder clay beneath, the wood has petrified and does not decay because of complete lack of oxygen. In essence the century old wood has become a stone like base for the city. There are 177 islands (tiny blocks surrounded by water are considered islands) so navigating all the bridges and narrow alleys was SUPER FUN!!!!! Without many street signs or distinguishing main roads the map was a little difficult to read. On the way to the main square (which is the top tourist attraction) the Venetians have figured out an excellent way to prevent 50,000 people a day asking for directions in this very confusing city; they painted a road map.

081110_veniceCity01
HELPFUL FRIENDLY SIGNS

Around every major bend there was another hand marked arrow pointing the correct way to go.

081110_veniceCity02
SOME EVEN HAD BEAUTIFUL ART ATTACHED

It was fun trying to find each new arrow and so useful I almost stopped using the map all together. Side note: I say almost stopped using the map because I really kept glancing at it nervous for some reason. I kept picturing some young punks going around in the middle of the night drawing arrows and signs willy nilly until we ended up in Siberia. Double side note: do you remember the movie Labyrinth and the girl is wandering around the maze, she gets this excellent idea to use her lipstick to track which direction she is going in by making arrows on tiles. The only problem was that the second she turned her back weird creatures screwed with the direction of her arrows… yea that was the feeling I was getting. Am I getting old or is it just paranoia.

081110_veniceCity03
ACTUALLY IF YOU THIK ABOUT IT THE SIGNS ARE PROBABLY MORE FOR THEIR PIECE OF MIND THEN ANYTHING ELSE

All arrows point to the same destination for all the tourists and the closer we got to the square the thicker the crowd got.

081110_veniceCity10
THE CROWDS WERE CRAZY

The crowds were so thick and I became so aggravated with getting slammed into without even an apology that I started consciously bracing my shoulders… if I was going to get bumped into then at the very least I can hold my ground, like a linebackers stance maybe I helped a few people learn to get outta my way… of course I did sustain a few bruises because of this but I was sick of being pushed around.

As we got closer to the square more and more tourist booths loomed into view. Even though we were planning on doing our shopping tomorrow there were times we could not resist a store.

081110_veniceCity04
WE FOUND A COOL MASK STORE; MS. DANCER LOOKED STUNNING IN A BLACK FILIGREE MASK

And we even found an amazing cameo jeweler that spent time showing us their different wares, how cameos were made and the differences in price and quality that was simply fascinating.

Step One: Selection of the shell which includes figuring in the form, size and thickness. The shell is then cut in two.

081110_veniceCity05
STEP ONE

Step Two: The belly or cup is smoothed and trimmed and then the cameo shape is according to the shells’ shape. The cup is then divided into smaller pieces which are then smoothed out before going into the carvers hands.

081110_veniceCity06
STEP TWO

Step Three: The trimmed shell is stuck to a short wooden stick making it easier to handle for the carver. Slowly and minutely the carver allows the form and shape of the piece inspire his subject often working with a sketch directly on the shell. Using a bulino carving tool (which has been used for 5000 years) the carvers slowly carve the shell by hand into the final cameo.

081110_veniceCity07
STEP THREE

Cameos can take a few days or a few months depending on the intricacies. They were breathtaking.

081110_veniceCity08
SIMPLY BREATHTAKING

Once we finally made it past all the interesting booths we got to our destination, Piazza San Marco; which is the principle square of Venice.

081110_veniceCity20
PIAZZA SAN MARCO

The dominating feature is the Basilica of San Marco. Touted for its opulent design and noted as the best example of Byzantine architecture the Basilica was gorgeous. This whole city is so beautiful, like a living museum around every corner there was something else fascinating to see!

081110_veniceCity12

081110_veniceCity11

Five round arched portals surrounded by marble columns house intricate mosaics of Romanesque art. Although most of the mosaics have been replaced or restored since the 13th century the subject matter has never changed.

081110_veniceCity14

081110_veniceCity13

081110_veniceCity15

081110_veniceCity19

The horses of Saint Mark were added onto the basilica in 1254. They have a long history linked back with ancient Romans adorning the Arch of Trajan, having been stolen from Constantinople, taken to Paris by Napoleon and then restored again to Venice. The horses that sit outside are replicas (the originals are housed inside the Basilica’s museum.

081110_veniceCity15b
THE HORSES REPLICAS

081110_veniceCity16
CAMPANILE DI SAN MARCO

Venice was HOT today so after our hike across the city to the square and our sightseeing we decided to stop for a gelato… UMMMMMM SO YUMMY!

081110_veniceCity18
A NICE GELATO TO HELP COOL DOWN

Using the map I attempted to get us close to our hotel so we could grab dinner at a sushi place we heard about. Without the helpful street arrows and still being distracted with fascinating shops I managed to get us lost in the maze.

081110_veniceCity21
CONFUSING MAP

081110_veniceCity22
I DON’T THINK WE ARE IN KANSAS ANYMORE TODO

At least I got us near the water when dusk was settling in… oh lala.

081110_veniceCity23
PRETTY AS A PICTURE

After asking several people for help and putting our three heads together we managed to find the sushi restaurant. Sushi was a welcome change from the food we had been dining on and we were all happy with how it tasted. People keep asking how we did together as a group, three girls together all the time on a 24 day trip and I have to respond that we are doing GREAT, most of the time it is roses and moonbeams, I mean how could we not be filled with love and harmony on an awesome trip like this.

081110_veniceCity24
WE ALL GET ALONG SO WELL

That is we get along until something happens to shake up the tranquility, which didn’t happen often thank goodness. In this instance however sharp objects were involved which is never a good thing.

081110_veniceCity25

Chopstick fighting ninja techniques came out and we all let our inner beast out to take control.

081110_veniceCity26

I know you cannot see the love here but it is there in every puckered up kung-foo face we made… that dinner was a ton of fun until someone lost an eye… chopsticks are dangerous to glass too by the way.

081110_veniceCity27

Don’t worry they had Coke Light. Like a security blanket the American Champaign infused my soul. I was able to calm down after that.

081110_veniceCity28
NOT THE SAME AS DIET COKE BUT BEGGERS CAN’T BE CHOOSERS

2 comments:

paul peggy zeus said...

I seriously think Ms Dancer should have purchased that mask - exquisite! The chopstick fighting was too hilarious for words!! Good job, girls. Cute Post.

Inzodda said...

OMG, it is just too much fun reminiscing, just think last year this time we were just getting closer to leaving on our voyage to Europe!!!!

Post a Comment