Thursday, December 1, 2016

On La Piazza

After a nice breakfast at the hotel (you can't help but love a country that has a dessert display on their continental breakfast), we took the hotel shuttle back to La Piazza for our appointment at Doge's Palace. The driver took a different route this morning so we were able to see other sites of Venice.

The Doge was the head of the Republic of Venice for a little over 1,000 years beginning in 697.  In 1797, the Republic of Venice fell to Napoleon and came under French rule.  After French and Austrian rule, Venice became part of united Italy in 1866. The Doge's Palace housed the Doge and his family, the senate, other government office and prisons.  The first two floors and the top floor of the palace housed prisoners so in essence, the Doge was surrounded by criminals.  The most famous of all criminals to be housed at Doge's Palace was Casanova, Giacoma Casanova.

The Courtyard of Doge's Palace

While the public areas of the palace were opulent, the offices were very sparse.  The office on the right below belonged to the Cancellier Grande (the keeper of the Doge's/Republic's secrets)...his annual salary was equivalent to $600,000 in today's dollars.

Entrance into Casanova's original cell (left).  The doors to all the cells were small as a form of torture. It was especially for Casanova as he was 2 meters (~6'5").

The Bridge of Sighs

After touring Doge's Palace, it was time for some caffe and biscotti...and some people watching in La Piazza.  We had a very tasty Caffe Casanova (coffee, hazelnut liqueur and whipped cream) and some rather nice biscottis.  The people watching in La Piazza is really quite entertaining.  I don't know when the practice started or who thought it was a good (or sanitary) idea to have pigeons land on your hands, arms and head but it is a sure fire way to spot a tourist in San Marco.  People even bait themselves with birdseed to get more of the flying rats to land on them.

Remember when I mentioned yesterday about flooding in Venice? We got very lucky as November and December are the times when acqua alta (high waters) are very likely to occur. During acqua alta season, the streets likely to flood have elevated walkways stacked.  Having been there during an acqua alta, I can honestly say it is much more pleasant when the waters stay at bay.

A visit to San Marco Basilica was next on the agenda.  Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the church so only exterior shots from down below and on the church's loggia.

We hopped on the water bus (valparetto) and headed to Murano in hopes of seeing some of the glassblowing.  Unfortunately we arrived too late but did walk around the island and saw some beautiful glasswork.  

For dinner, the hotel recommended another excellent off the beaten path restaurant...and we didn't even get lost!

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