Italy – Venice

Our Costa Mediterranea cruise approached a foggy Venice. Due to the inclement weather, we were told that there would be a slight delay to our arrival time. We had booked a two night stay at the Guesthouse Alloggi Agli Artisti on Cannareggio 99/B, and from the online reviews we realized that it was located just a few minutes away from the Santa Lucia train station. Perfect for us since we were lugging our heavy backpacks from the cruise ship! Our accommodations cost 134 Euro for 2 nights (double bed, shared bathroom, free wifi). Disembarking the cruise ship was a breeze and the walk to our guesthouse was straightforward and stress free. When we arrived at reception, we still had another two hours before check-in but the friendly hotel employee took one look at our sweaty state, laughed and told us that our room was ready if we wanted to check in early. Two thumbs up for Alloggi Agli Artisti! Even though we had to hike up to the 4th floor to reach our room, we were pleasantly surprised with our Venetian lodgings. Our room was clean and comfortable, and there were plenty of shared bathrooms (spotless) on our floor. Thank goodness we took the negative online reviews with a grain of salt! After dropping off our gear, we set out to explore Venice on foot.

Grand Canal, Venice's "main street" San Stae (Saint Eustachius) Church with a beautiful 17th century facade Angel crest near Ponte del Forner Square in front of San Giacomo di Rialto Rialto Bridge, one of four to span the Grand Canal St Mark's Campanile, a steep 8 € fee for a lovely view of Venice The Doge's Palace (Palazzo Ducale), a Venetian Gothic landmark in Piazza San Marco Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti, an impressive neo-Gothic building at the foot of the Accademia bridge Grand Canal view from the Accademia bridge Becky on the Ponte della Costituzione bridge towards Piazzale Roma (to board our Venice cruise) Early morning view of Venice's skyline (as seen from the 10th deck of our cruise) Church of San Geremia; Grand Canal A gondola in front of Hotel Principe Window decor; building on Grand Canal Arches of the Fondaco dei Turchi, a 17th century ghetto for Venice's Ottoman Turks. Today, it serves as the city's Natural History Museum Old fashioned brass doorbells and name plates A sea gull stalks us during our picnic lunch by the Grand Canal Decorative arches are a commonplace sight in pretty Venice Window embellishments; Grand Canal One of over 200 palaces (palazzi) of Venice Ca' d'Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia), one of the older palaces on the Grand Canal. It currently hosts the art collection of the Baron Giorgio Franchetti Venice is hauntingly beautiful for a city that is sinking! 15th century clock of San Giacomo di Rialto (famous for its inaccuracy!) Two gondoliers gossiping on the Grand Canal Another view of San Geremia Church A quintessential image of Venice that will forever be etched in our memory The going rate for a 1 hour gondola ride is € 80 "The World Is A Stage But The Play Is Badly Cast" - Oscar Wilde quote seen in Venice Grand Canal view of Santa Maria della Salute Church Chiesa di Santa Maria del Giglio (St Mary of the Lily) has one of the finest Venetian Baroque facades in the city Exterior detail on St Mark's Basilica; Piazza San Marco Italian navy crew members pose in front of St Mark's Basilica Crucifixion mosaic on Venice's most famous church,  St. Mark's Basilica The Ogee Arch of St Alipius' Gate located immediately above the central, main portal of St Mark's Basilica White limestone Bridge of Sighs Palazzo Ducale at sunset Sunset in Venice Marble statue of the Doge kneeling before the winged Lion of St Mark (with its paw on the gospel); facade of the Doge's Palace Octopi for sale; Rialto Market Gondolier hard at work A peek down Via Giuseppe Garibaldi View looking towards Piazza San Marco with the bell tower (campanile) dominating the skyline The Porta Magna at the Venetian Arsenal Gondolas plying the Venetian waterways Colorful chili peppers for sale; Rialto Market Carnival figurines for sale Venetian carnival masks Gondolas parked at the canal Robby rescues a crab that survived the Rialto Fish Market A quaint corner of Venice Goodbye beautiful Venice! Until next time... purchase photo gallery softwareby v6.1

Since this was our second visit to Venice, we weren’t stressed about visiting anything in particular and just wanted to wander the back alleys and get lost in the labyrinth maze of the city. For several leisurely hours we made our way from the Santa Lucia train station in the direction of Piazza San Marco, following the yellow signs on the walls for “San Marco” and “Rialto”. Our guidebook stated no picnics were allowed in the Piazza San Marco vicinity (punishable by a fine!), so we decided to find another picnic spot and settled on the waterfront near San Giacomo di Rialto Church. There, we enjoyed a lunch of prosciutto and cheese on delicious wheat bread accompanied by fruit…yum! After lunch, we stumbled upon the Rialto Bridge which unfortunately was under renovation. Nevertheless, there were still hundreds of tourists taking selfies despite the ugly scaffolding! From Rialto, it was an easy walk to San Marco (just follow the signs!). We stayed here and people watched until sunset, taking lots of photos along the way. At twilight, the masses hurriedly scattered, leaving Piazza San Marco a ghostly square. With everyone scurrying off to dinner or their hotels, we decided to follow suit and we had to make our way in the dark back towards our hotel. Thankfully, there were plenty of “Per Piazzle Roma” and “Alla Ferrovia” signs so we didn’t get too lost as we stumbled around in the dark. The temperature cooled off significantly once the sunset, so we walked quickly to stay warm and were ravenous for dinner by the time we reached our hotel. A Chinese restaurant named Ristorante Shanghai had caught our eye earlier in the day so we settled for Chinese food which was quite tasty (small portions, reasonably priced for Venice).

7 Nov: Since our cruise had been nothing but “go, go, go”, we took the opportunity to sleep in today! Robby was keen on visiting the Fish market (Rialto Market) for some photos so we decided to visit it as soon as we got up since morning is usually when the action is. The market didn’t disappoint with tons of seafood on display. Nearby, we bought an avocado from the produce market to accompany some fresh bread, prosciutto and cheese. What a sandwich…the avocado made all the difference! We picnicked on the docks opposite Ca d’Oro vaporetto stop, which ended up being quite romantic because a gondola station was nearby. From our low vantage point (sitting on the docks), we got to witness dozens of striped shirt gondoliers steering passengers in their gondolas mere feet in front of us. It was as if we had first class seats to the Venice show and it was all free! It quickly became evident that some gondoliers were better than others, especially the ones that broke out into spontaneous Italian songs.

After lunch, we decided to explore the Castello district beyond San Marco Square so we got lost wandering around Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, passing by the Arsenale (shipyard and armory complex). Since our flight back home was tomorrow, we stopped by a ticket office to buy our bus tickets to the airport. We were told that ATVO coaches frequently departed from Piazzale Rome to Marco Polo Airport for a mere €8…sold! So long pretty Venice and until next time!

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