Day 69: Thursday 4th September
Today Miss Hannaford and I explored more of the back streets of Venice starting from the Train Station near Ferrovia vapparetto stop through the back streets, across the Cannaregio Canal to the Cannaregio district. Miss Hannaford had heard that there was a local puppet maker in the area but after wandering around the streets using the directions we were given, we could not find the workshop but we had a very nice walk.
Day 70: Friday 5th September
Today was our last day in Venice. The first thing we did was to get ready to travel to Rome tomorrow by getting washing done and making sure we had all the right train tickets for the next few train trips. I wanted to go to the top of the Campanile (the orange bell tower and symbol of Venice) and Miss Hannaford wanted to find another puppet shop that she had heard was near Saint Mark’s Square. Instead of catching the Vaporetto, MIss Hannaford and I walked through the back streets and bridges of Venice to St Mark’s Square and we paid €8 to catch the elevator to the top of the Campanile. What an amazing view of all of Venice and the Lagoon! Venice is made up of 180 tiny islands which explains why there are so many bridges and canals but the strange thing is that from the top of the Campanile, you can’t see any of the bridges or canals!
After we came down from the Campanile, we watched the big clock chime 5pm. It is hard to see in the video Miss Hannaford shot, but the figures on the top of the clock tower actually move to strike the bell.
Here is Miss Hannaford’s video
Here is another video showing the figures moving more clearly.
Miss Hannaford did find the puppet shop but sadly it was closed but she took some nice pictures of the marionette puppets.
So tomorrow we are off to Rome on the high speed train and in the middle of next week we are traveling to Charleville Meziere in Northern France using the French high speed trains!
Day 68: Wednesday 3rd September
I have really been looking forward to today. Our first exciting activity was a ride in one of Venice’s famous black gondolas! We travelled through many of the hidden canals of Venice from the Ferrovia Vaparetto stop to very close to Saint Mark’s Square. The canals of Venice are just like the streets people drive on so traffic jams happen when too many gondolas, water taxi’s and local peoples small boats all try to go around the corners of the canals at the same time from different directions.
The gondola is richly decorated with gold decoration and we noticed the seahorse sculptures on the sides of the gondola. The seahorses look like real horses but their back legs look like the tail of a fish! Gondola’s have no motor or propeller to make it go through the water. A gondolier (the person who rows the gondola), rows the gondola using just one oar, standing up and facing the way the gondola is going. You have to be very strong to row a gondola!
After the Gondola trip the tour arrived in the most famous part of Venice- Saint Mark’s Square. The most famous buildings of Venice can be found around the square- St Mark’s Basillica, The Doge’s Palace and the Campanile- the huge orange bell tower opposite the basilica and the palace. St Mark is the patron saint of Venice and it is believed that his bones are inside the basillica. St Mark is represented in history and in the Bible by a lion with wings so the symbol of Venice is the Lion with wings and you see the lion everywhere!
After visiting St Mark’s, the next famous building we visited was the Doge’s Palace next door. The Doge is the name given to the man who was elected to a role similar to President of Venice since for over 1000 years, Venice was an independent country from Italy. The Doge was elected from among the heads of all the important families of Venice. All the other family heads became the rest of the governing council of Venice and we saw the great big council chamber where they all met similar to our own Houses of Parliament.
During the tour, we walked across the Bridge of Sighs from the Palace of the Doge into the Prison of the city. We got to see the tiny doors into the cells where 15-20 prisoners were kept in each cell.
The last activity of the day was a water taxi tour of the Grand Canal starting at St Mark’s square and finishing at St Mark’s Square. Along the way we saw many old buildings that used to belong to the really rich families of Venice but many are now hotels. One of the really interesting things we saw was the ambulance boats next to the hospital. As mentioned previously, the canals of Venice are the streets of Venice and everyone gets around by boat including the Ambulance!
Day 67: Tuesday 2nd September
Today we visited the island of Murano to the north of Venice.
Our journey started by walking through the narrow streets and small squares to the north of the hotel to get to the Vaporetto stop opposite Murano Island. Walking through the streets and crossing all the small canals you realise that the canals are the main streets of Venice. You see delivery boats bringing goods and supplies to shops and restaurants or collecting household rubbish like a garbage truck does back home.
While we waited for the vaporetto, you could see the Italian Alps in the distance! They are really big mountains and we could not quite tell if we could see snow on the top or if it was sunlight!
On the way to Murano, the first stop of the Vaporetto was Cimitero San Michele which is the cemetery island of Venice. It is a very interesting place in that people are buried on the island for only 10 years, then their bones are removed to a special crypt called an ossuary on the mainland because there is no land available in Venice for permanent burials.
Murano has it’s own grand canal and Miss Hannaford and I got off the Vaparetto at the Museo stop. Miss Hannaford wanted to find one of the glass blowing factories that demonstrate how glass ornaments and vases are made. We wandered around the island and we eventually found a factory that offered demonstrations.
First thing we saw was a vase being blown by a glass master artist
Next we saw the master create a Ferrari Horse in less than 1 minute from molten ball of glass in the furnance to finished horse!
While we were on Murano, we found a huge glass sculpture that is called a comet glass star. It was made for a christmas celebration on Murano and each of the blue glass tubes is hand blown and they are all more than 1 metre long.
All of the shops have beautiful examples of glass art including jewellery, lampshades, small sculptures and very big sculptures. One of the last sculptures we saw was an enormous eagle all made from hand made glass on a really tall glass stand! The whole sculpture was more than 2 metres tall and the wing span of the eagle was more than 1.5m wide!
It was a really interesting visit to the island of Murano- can’t wait to see what we do tomorrow!
Day 65: Sunday 31st August
Today it was another travelling day this time from London by plane to Venice. Miss Hannaford and I left the hotel at 8:30am to catch a red London double decker bus to Victoria Station. It was then a 30 minute train ride to Gatwick Airport. The flight was due to leave at 2pm but it was it delayed by an hour. The flight was 1.5 hours but you have to take into account that Venice is an hour ahead of London so we had to adjust our watches to 5:30pm.
Once you get out of the airport, you catch a vaparetto or water bus from Marco Polo airport to Venice and you get off at a water stop closest to the hotel so in our case- we got off the water bus at the famous Rialto bridge. One of the really challenging thing for tourists with luggage are all the bridges over the canals to get to the hotel. There are no ramps to pull luggage over so if you have heavy suitcases it can be really tiring to pull the cases up and over the bridges. We finally got to our hotel in Venice at 7:30pm so it was a very long day of travelling.
Here is a video of our arrival in Venice by Vaparetto
Day 66: Monday 1st September
The thing that Miss Hannaford has always loved about Venice for nearly 20 years is the tradition of Mask making and the festival called Carnivale that is held every February/ March. Venice is famous for its ornate papier mache masks that start as wearable half face masks so that it is possible to speak, eat and drink, to enormous masks that are used as wall decorations. One of the oldest mask workshops is Cá Manca in the Dorsoduro region of Venice. Miss Hannaford has studied in the past about how Venetian masks were made and was able to talk to the mask makers about the materials they use in particular the type of paper they use. She was so excited to be given a sample of the actual paper that is used to bring home! She also painted her own mask in their workshop then they allowed me to try on several masks and take photos!
A really great start to our week in Venice!