Monday, June 17, 2013

Bella Italia: Venice

Our fabulous tour of northern Italy continues! We drove from Verona through Vicenza, then headed a bit north to Nove. There are a bunch of ceramic places that sell Lenox, Tiffany, Williams and Sonoma ceramic pieces at wholesale. Because it really would only take us 2 hours to drive from Verona to where we were staying outside of Venice, my wonderful hubby dropped me off at one of the factories in Nove and took the kids to a nearby playarea. What a fantastic man! (Oooh, and I got to buy a few things, too!)
The basement of the showroom where the pottery is fired and glazed.
Rows and rows of beautiful pottery! A shoppers dream.
Before we left the factory, we walked around where the pottery is fired and glazed. We found a guy working and watched him dip serving bowls into a white glaze. The girls were amazed! It was such fun to see him in action...and get some great deals on some beautiful pieces of handmade pottery from Italy.
 We arrived in the afternoon and wanted to see what we could of Venice before we took the bus over to the island in the morning. (We stayed on the mainland.) So we headed east and looked for parking. This necessitated a picture of the largest parking sign we've ever seen:

 We spent two days in Venice. The first day it poured for a while, and the second it sprinkled, but we did have periods of good weather. The girls did great--Kate started her day trying to count all the winged lions (symbol of the city) that she could find, but lost count after 58 or so. We started off with a vaporetto (water bus) ride down the Grand Canal towards St. Mark's Square. It was a Friday, and not very crowded.
La Salute church, across the canal from St. Mark's.

Rialto Bridge peeking out around the corner.
The gondolas were amazing. Kate called them "the dancing gondolas" because they were always bobbing up and down in the waves. They looked like cadillacs compared to some of the smaller boats we saw.

What an awesome husband!!
St. Mark's Square, with a corner of the Doge's Palace behind me, to the right.

High tide brought flooding to the square. Some were prepared...some not.
 We toured the Doge's Palace (before the hordes arrived from the cruise ships) and it was incredible. The Doge was basically an elected king, and he ruled an incredibly rich empire when Venice was at the height of its' power (17th century). The largest oil painting in the world adorns the great council chamber, where the Doge is depicted surrounded by 500 saints. However, no photography is allowed inside, but we had to share the two men who flanked the entrance staircase (no longer used). Moses is on the right and Paul Newman is on the left. :) (Double click to see more closely--it really looks like him.)
Bridge of Sighs (stretching across the canal). Prisoners got their last view of Venice through these small windows before descending into the prison (adjacent to the Doge's palace)
 We took Rick Steve's advice and tried to get lost. (We're on an island, anyway!) It was fun exploring around the "elegantly decaying" city. The girls were our explorers and lead us around over canals and past churches. And I have to mention, we got a LOT of looks, comments, and wide-eyed stares because of our "entourage" of children. There were very few families of more than two kids that we saw on our trip. That said, hey, just because we have kids doesn't mean we don't want to travel! So we pack 'em up and move 'em out. They'll thank us for it...sometime....:)

On the second day in Venice, we took a vaporetto through the lagoon to Murano, another island--part of Venice that's known for its glassmaking. We got to see a man making some animals out of glass (again, no pictures allowed) and the girls loved seeing him mold the hot glass into recognizeable shapes.

We found this squashed penny stand (Jen's favorite souvenir!!) and Kate guarded it while I went inside to get change.
We finished our tour of Venice with a wonderful meal right next to a canal and the local grocery store. It was really interesting seeing the locals come and go from our vantage point. And there was a gondola stop right in front of us. But we didn't take a gondola as it would be logistically difficult with the stroller and it costs 80E for 45 min. But we got to watch! During dinner everyone gorged on pasta and bread, and enjoyed the quiet. Hmmmm...where is Miranda? you may ask. Well, she wasn't quiet, so we stashed her in an alley nearby...

...and she felt much better after she was able to put herself to sleep.

Ellie loved chasing the pigeons.

Kate loved being grossed out by the seafood.

Miranda loved any and all attention, even though she didn't get any gelato.
Last but not least, our final bus ride back to our apartment was considerably memorable. We hopped on the #12 and sat down to the 15 min ride back to our place...only to find we were on the wrong bus. We noticed this after everyone else got off and the bus stopped...and we were still on. The wonderfully nice bus driver pipes up (in English): "Are you lost?" We didn't know it, but we were. He very kindly offered to drive us as close to our stop as his route would allow, and we finally realized our mistake...we needed to ride bus 12 not bus 12/. HEWGE difference. 
Ciao, Venice! Next stops: Pisa and Cinque Terre.


Betsy said...

We almost feel that we are w/ u all as u tour + experience such joy + adventure! Great combo of Fam pics + beautiful places to see! LOVE these glimpses! G+P

Irishdrums said...

Very interesting little trip! How do u remember all the little details when you are blogging? I liked the Paul Newman statue! :) And Kate the penny squasher guard.

b.niel said...

awesome! we loved Venice, especially the Doge's Palace. So cool that you guys were there too! Thanks for taking the time to post and fill us in on your awesome trip!

Nana said...

What a fantastic stop this was: seeing glass blowers, dancing gondolas, your beautiful children loving every minute, festive masks (even if it was a bribe), the largest painting in the world, Moses and Paul Newman in the same setting? what a multitude of things. Kate looks pretty serious about guarding the squashed penny machine. Even getting lost and taking the wrong bus didn't undo you. What a memory! Thanks for sharing.

Evan said...

I loved all the photos of the girls. I'm sure it's not easy traveling with them, but these pics prove they enjoyed it at least some of the time. :) Very cool that you made it to Murano; we did not. Did you have any fish risotto? Bummer about bus 12 vs. 12/. (Wonder what was wrong with 12A and 12B?) How are you supposed to know that a slash is relevant?!