Friday, June 3, 2011

Venice; labyrinth of beauty

We travelled to Venice for the day with 50 000 other tourists to visit my uncles and do some sightseeing.  Unfortunately, we had chosen a long weekend holiday to visit, which also coincided with the departure of 4 cruise ships over the weekend.  The last time I visited Venice, it was in Winter on a rainy day.  I was left with the impression of a misty, eerie, quiet and magical place.  On that occassion, we could barely see 2 meters infront of us while walking the streets, and all we could hear was the water lapping up against the boats and gondolas.  My impression of Venice has now changed.  This time round, Venice was bustling with excitement, sun glistened off the water, and even though their was a light floating scent of sweaty shoe, it was still magical. Venice captures the impression of a magical floating city; 400 foot bridges and 170 boat canals connect the city to make it easily accessible to the public and create a welcoming rat maze for tourists.

A day in Venice can be one big adventure. Caught in the winding and seemingly endless streets and bridges of confusion, you have no other choice but to keep on walking— which is actually a good thing! There’s no better way to explore Venice than by getting lost and being pleasantly surprised in what it has to offer at your next turn. Our wandering led us to Palazzo Pappadopoli.  This beautiful building accomodated an exhibition showcasing 19 independent artists for the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, “ILLUMInations,” whose title literally draws attention to the importance of global artistic developments. Of course, by global artistic development, I really mean; holes in the ground to stand in, a watermelon cut into a square and placed in an empty room, a film of barbie lesbian love, and a mock beach set at night.  We accidently wandered into the staff kitchen, and it wasn't until we were told we had taken a wrong turn, that I realised it was actually a staff member washing dishes, not a 'live exhibit'.  Shame, she was doing a really good job.

Door knob found at Palazzo Papadopoli

Educating children with some art
 There was a great view out of the windows of Palazzo Pappadopoli of the grand canal, and it was a perfect spot to see the cartage of gondolas having drag races with a mixture of passengers.  We spotted tour groups, romancing couples, parents holding onto children shirts, and a man with his computer not quite willing to leave the bustle of life and immerse himself in the ambience of Venice.  These traditional and symbolic boats have been used as transport around the narrow Venetian waterways for more than 10 centuries. Evolving and perfected through time, Gondolas are designed to be easily operated by a highly-skilled oarsman known as a Gondolier, (they are also designed to empty the wallets of the voyager).

Seriously?  Put down the computer!

Hello Mr Gondolier...

Nice view

On your marks, get set, go!!!
We entered a restaurant that had been recommended, but upon their observation of my children, they were suddenly, apparently, 'fully booked'.  Considering the restaurant only had 2 customers and it was 1.30pm, I suspect they were more concerned about the possible on slaught and disturbance made by 6 adults and 4 children. I often wonder if restaurants in Italy have my family photo pinned behind the concierge desk with a big red cross through it.   We are known for leaving a lasting impression, (usually in the form of stained table cloths and broken glasses). So we found a little pizzeria and indulged in a typical italian lunch of breads, wine and pasta, followed of course by gelati, then another necessary stop for cold beer, cheese and meats.

Anyone have a wipe handy?

Num num num!
We reached the Rialto bridge and weaved our way through the mass of tourists trying to capture that typical holiday snap from the bridge down the grand canal.  Every city seems to have that illusory photo; holding up the leaning tower of Pisa, hand on top of the Eiffel Tower, pretending to lean on an Egyptian Pyramid, or to pick the nose from a face of Mount Rushmore.  We noticed extra crowds gathering around and water police and jet skiis started circling a terrace below.  Cameras started flashing hectically and people whispered to each other, "Chi è, chi è?" (Who is it?).  My husband recognised it to be the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.  My uncle on the other hand thought that another George would be more exciting.  So after a few loud squeels of, "It's George Clooney" and his amusement at the disruption he caused, we avoided the elbows of Italian mothers trying to get a closer look and headed back to their hotel.

Rialto bridge

Prince trying to see what the commotion was about

"Yoo hoo, George!"
Unfortunately, prince and princess could not make the distance, and needed to be carried, simulataeously falling asleep.  What better way to experience the 400 foot bridges, then by carrying the dead weight of the war wounded in the summer heat.  Fortunately for me, with two extra strong arms to help, we performed WWF sub technique for the entire walk back to share the load.

A queue was started behind my Uncle for a carry home...

Too much excitement

Too much magic
It was a lovely day, and I am glad we have now experienced a hot and cold Venice; good to know it is magical 100% of the time.

IF Interesting Fact

Only 3 to 4 Gondolier licenses are issued annually. To qualify, applicants must be able to finish an extensive training after passing a rigorous exam. Apparently there are only 400 licensed Gondolas operating in Venice today.

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