Friday, July 30, 2010

Venice- Day Three

The possibility of rain continued the next morning as we made our way around from one section of the city to another. There are few, if any, straight lines in Venice. Getting from one point to another takes you through multiple possibilities and choices to a conclusion that is, hopefully, where you want to go. On the other hand, you can only get so lost in Venice; it is only a matter of time before you reach the edge and are looking out at the lagoon.

This was our last day in Venice and because of our wanderings taking longer than I anticipated one day (not a problem, really) and the deluge of rain the next I had to make sure that one of my favorite things to do in Venice was on the schedule before we left. That is, walking just beyond the Doge's Palace along the waterside to the San Zaccharia stop on the vaporetto route. There we would take the poor man's route around the city. This is the relatively inexpensive but long vaporetto ride around and then down the Grand Canal. The problem was timing. The benefit of starting on the #2 vaporetto at San Zaccharia, heading toward San Giorgio Maggiore, is that you will be able to sit wherever you want- it's the beginning of the route and the vaporetto's seats are wide open. My choice? Right up in front. But it isn't quite the same if you are getting soaked from a steady rain. So, the question was- the Church of the Frari to see Titian's Assumption of the Virgin and Bellini's Pesaro Altarpiece first, or head over and hope the weather would improve? Fortified with more espresso than usual, I made my choice by not really choosing. We walked. We looked. We did a little shopping. (Are you suuuure you want those really bad plastic masks?) We ended up heading over toward San Marco, and as we did the sky brightened and the sun came out.

I received one card with a magnetic strip to cover the tickets for all of us, we waited all of three minutes and our ship came in. Being a mature, fatherly figure to my students I made sure that when the gate was opened I was first through and directly to "my seat". This particular vaporetto route takes you across the lagoon to San Giorgio where you can get off and go visit the Last Supper by Tintoretto inside and follow that up by going up the campanile for what may be the best view of Venice. They have a habit of closing around noon, though, so it needs to be timed right. I didn't. The vaporetto then makes stops along the Giudecca, that long, half-forgotten island off by itself in the lagoon. In little gaps between buildings you can see trees and gardens beyond. Across the way Dorsoduro lies with the domed Santa Maria della Salute and a line of other churches facing the water. When we were going by the church bells were ringing and I could see the movement of the bells within the towers.

Farther along, you may have a chance at a tour of the Lifestyles of the Rich and, if they aren't Famous, they certainly are Extravagant, where you may see enormous yachts lined up along the shore. Then the cruise ships follow up. It was only a one cruise ship day (that will not happen on Fridays to Sundays) which meant that we would have another day where the streets would not be terribly crowded. The vaporetto then goes around by the market, by the people mover (new to me) by many small boats picking up food and wares to be delivered and then makes its way to the Grand Canal. Here the crowds get on deck and you can, if you wish, take a quick breezy look in their direction from your seat in front. The rest of the trip down the canal is dreamland, no matter how many times you do it. Your sense of time is collapsed as you remember all those images of Venice from long ago which merge very easily with what you see before you. It all goes too fast.

Before long we are back at San Zaccharia, the floating dock shifting a bit under our feet as we leave. This is one thing that I do with my students that does not need, or is even helped by, an introduction. We get on, we sit, we gaze and this huge, elaborate stage moves by us as it has for centuries.

This is my favorite thing to do in Venice.

Later that afternoon I found a campo I'd never been to before, had some wine, chatted with a couple from Lancashire, remembered the time and bolted back to the B&B to meet the students for our journey back to Florence. Crossing the bridge and walking into the train station we were met by the next group of people who were entering the play. In place of a bow, we walked through the doors of the station, the train was waiting, we climbed aboard and shortly after, watched the clustered buildings above water slowly recede. With the train moving back onto land I again entered into a sense of something that seemed closer to normal reality.


  1. And, another piece of your heart is left behind. That is such a good idea to do the #2 from San Zaccharia. You're a clever old codger! Thank you for your blog, Brian. Buona fortuna.


  2. Thanks, Brian! Worth the looooong wait!!