A morning in Florence and an afternoon in Venice

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April 28th 2015
Published: April 30th 2015
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Unfortunately it was still wet this morning, but seemed to be showing some sign of easing? After breakfast we settled our account with Donatello and headed off to the Galleria dell'Academia with our pre-purchased tickets for 9.00am entry. Although Donatello is expecting new guests today he doesn't have anyone allocated to our room so we are able to store our bags in the room until we leave early this afternoon.

With the rain falling there were colourful umbrellas everywhere so we tried to capture some interesting rainy day shots with umbrellas the stand out feature. When we reached the Galleria dell'Academia there were queues everywhere. They didn't seem to be as well organised as the Uffizi Gallery, with people generally confused about which queue they should be in. Even with our pre-purchased ticket for 9.00am it was closer to 9.30am before we were screened and admitted to the gallery.

Our first priority was to make sure that we saw Michelangelo's statue of David. As was to be expected David was on the top of everyone's list! From the statue of David we went quickly through some of the (mainly religious) artworks on the ground floor before heading up to the first floor. We were glad that we made the effort to go upstairs because we were able to see some impressive illuminated manuscripts and some very fine 700 year old embroidery.

From the Galleria we walked around to the Piazza del Duomo to buy our tickets to climb the Camponile di Giotto and the Duomo. With our tickets in hand we went first to the campanile where, rather surprisingly, there was no queue. We climbed our way to the top of the bell tower and took photos overlooking Venice and looking towards the adjacent dome.

After the bell tower we went to join the end of the queue waiting to climb the dome. We were at a loss to work out why there were so many waiting to climb the dome, but hardly anyone waiting to climb the campanile. Even early in the season and with as many pre-purchased tickets as possible it is simply not possible to avoid queueing completely! It took about an hour to actually get in to do the dome climb. As with St Peter's the experience is spoiled by all of the screening that is in place to protect the dome from the people visiting it.

There was a group of young Americans in front of us and we were surprised at their lack of stamina when half of the group had to stop to catch their breath after the first section of the climb to the top!! After taking some photos looking out over Florence we climbed back down hoping to come out in the church as happened at St Peter's. We were very disappointed that the end of the tower climb ended with us having nowhere to go except back out into the piazza.

There was no charge to enter the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, but we did have to queue up again. With the day getting away from us we ummed and ahhed about lining up in yet another queue, but decided that we would jump on the end to see how quickly it was moving. It turned out to be progressing much more quickly than the Duomo queue and we were inside the cathedral in about 15 minutes.

Our decision to visit the cathedral was well worth the effort. It was lovely to see a church that is still using real votive candles. With our current round of church visits we have found that more and more churches seem to be changing over to electronic candles. I understand that this must be better for them in terms of recouping their costs on the candles and reducing cleaning costs, but they certainly lack the atmosphere of real votive candles! While we were in the church we were also fortunate enough to hear the pipe organ being played which was AWESOME!

We decided that we had run out of time to return to the market for lunch so we just picked up paninis on our way back to the B&B. We ate our sandwiches quickly and then finalised our packing and hauled our bags over to the station. We found the platform for the train to Venice easily and boarded without any difficulty. The platform had helpful signs up that indicated where each coach would pull up so we were able to stand in approximately the right spot to make boarding fairly trouble free.

Approximately two hours later we arrived at Venice Mestre Station - although we didn't think that was particularly clearly marked - which explains why we disembarked!! On the platform Bernie started to have doubts about whether we were at the right station so he asked a local who told us no, no, you better get back on the train. Aaaargh, what a panic getting ourselves and our bags back onto the train! We made it, thank goodness and proceeded across the long, long, long bridge across the water to Venice's main Santa Lucia Station. Phew, that could have ended badly, but we made it to Venice.

The next challenge was finding the machine that would issue our Vaporetto (water bus) travel cards for the next 72 hours. Bernie had pre-purchased these, but they don't mail the tickets to you , they email a code that will produce your tickets for you when it is entered into a ticket machine on your arrival. Bernie only had to ask two people before he was directed to the ticket issuing machine! Tickets in hand, now we just had to board the right Vaporetto.

Fortunately we had very good directions from the hotel that Bernie had booked with and we boarded the No. 1 Vaporetto without any trouble. The only slight problem that we had was that we had arrived in Venice at 5.30pm which meant that the water bus was packed with tourists and commuters. After about 40 minutes cruising the Grand Canal we disembarked at the San Marco San Zaccaria pontoon. Our hotel was just a short walk from there as Bernie had us booked into an affordable small hotel that is nestled just behind the Palazzo Ducale and only a couple of minutes walk from Piazza San Marco.

We checked in and then headed straight back out again to explore Venice a bit more without our luggage in tow. It's a bit difficult to see the sights when you are weighed down with all your possessions and worrying about alighting at the right 'station'. We thought that we could complete a circuit of the Grand Canal on the Vaporetto so we went back to the pontoon and re-boarded the No. 1 Vaporetto. Ha, ha, it terminates after just four more stops at Lido Santa Maria Elisabetta! We stayed on board and, with the light fading rapidly, decided that we would be better off to ride the water busses a bit more tomorrow.

The desk attendant had given us directions to the supermarket, but we gave up and bought expensive water and beer at one of the smaller stores. Maybe we'll persevere and find the Co-Op tomorrow?! The desk attendant had also recommended a restaurant so, after we dropped the water and beer off at our room, we headed out into the Venetian alleyways determined to find the restaurant. Yay, we made it to the restaurant ... Enoiteca Mascareta ... and back again without getting hopelessly lost. Thank goodness that one of us has a good sense of direction and can read a map!!

Steps for the day 16,839 (11.47 km)

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


1st May 2015

Venice ...aahhhhhh!
Beautiful photos Bernie; sooooo wish I was there too. Hopefully I'll get there one day soon. Enjoying your blog so much - thanks Tracey.

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