Dazzled by Gold and Awestruck by Beauty

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June 27th 2016
Published: June 29th 2016
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Woolly says – I awoke to rain, having prodded Jo and told her to sort it out it appears that it’s not something she has any control over.....I need better staff! At least I had breakfast to look forward to and as we took the lift down to the breakfast room I knew that I needed to fill up well for another round of walking. It was chaos, every table was full, dishes were being banged and clattered around and feeling there was nothing for it I left Jo and Zoe waiting and went to tuck in to the buffet.

Twenty minutes later I found him stood in the cornflakes licking the croissants! Having removed him and tried to reduce the amount of stickiness we checked both of our maps and set off.

Woolly says – I was determined to find the Piazza San Marco or Saint Mark's Square which is the largest and most important square in Venice being the largest piece of dry land! An important meeting place for the citizens of Venice and the design showcase for Venice's aristocracy, the square is bordered on its three sides by the Procuratie Vecchie and Procuratie Nuove, built, respectively, in the 12th and 16th centuries. These connected buildings once housed the apartments and offices of the procurators of Venice and government officials who oversaw the administration of the Venetian Republic. It was the place to be and contained the biggest delights that the city had to offer. I spotted a yellow sign and we seemed to be onto a winner as we went through pathways and across bridges keeping the signs in sight at all times, well until we got to a junction and there wasn’t one. We hummed and harred and then made a collective decision to go right, on we went until we found another sign pointing back the way we had just come, string and breadcrumbs would be useful in this place!

It seemed to take forever but as we saw more and more people heading in the same direction I knew it couldn’t be much further, through a covered shopping area and there in all it’s glory was St Mark’s Square.

Woolly says – It was incredible the basilica standing proudly in front of us was a sight that no postcard could do justice to and as I gave several pigeons the evil eye as they approached me I didn’t even have to ask Jo to be carried.

Given the numbers of humans and birds covering the square leaving him to roam would only lead to problems!

Woolly says – I knew she cared about me really....well sometimes! We had arrived early but he queue for the Basilica was lengthy, it took us ten minutes to walk to the end, as I delved into my snack box to pass the time I heard the girls muttering about leaving it and coming back later when a women in a white hat approached asking if we wanted a guide, hmmmm ‘how much’ I asked, ‘twenty euro’s including entrance’ she responded, sounded alright to me and it’s not my money so having agreed I kicked Jo’s ankles and told her to follow.

It seemed a bit steep but I guess if it guaranteed us speedy access then it might be worth jumping the queue for.

Woolly says – she led us to one of the huge doorways stating that they tour would start in ten minutes before disappearing, we stood admiring the stonework and gold mosaic for a while and discussing the noise the bells must make across the way in the large tower. The lady in white appeared once more leaving two more people and saying that the tour would start in ten minutes...hang on didn’t she say that ten minutes ago! I sat and pondered and tuned into a conversation that Jo was obviously listening to as well, I looked at Jo and she looked at me as we heard the words ‘it’s free so we might as well wait’ two minds thinking as one we turned to Zoe as the women in white popped into view again with another family before doing the ‘tour in ten minutes’ routine. We left our place and considered the length of the queue, whilst Jo and Zoe pondered the issue I trotted round the corner to the Palace to see what that area was like, with only eight people waiting I beckoned the ladies over and suggested that we tackle this first then see what the situation was like for the Basilica.

He had a good idea and within minutes we were entering the Doge’s Palace.

Woolly says – They underestimate my capabilities time after time! Built in 1424 the Palazzo Ducale or Doge’s Palace was the seat of the government of Venice for centuries. As well as being the home of the Doge (the elected ruler of Venice) it was the venue for its law courts, its civil administration and bureaucracy and until its relocation across the Bridge of Sighs was also the city jail. As I hurried into the courtyard the sight took my breath away, I want to live here, I never want to leave, its awesome, can we have a courtyard like this?

It was stupendous with it’s huge quantities of detailed statues, the most beautiful clock tower and the intricate carvings it was difficult to know where to look first.

Woolly says – I could barely tear my eyes from the outside but the museum beckoned and as we followed the arrows we mounted the Golden Staircase, begun halfway through the 16th century by Sansovino, the stairway owes its name to the spectacular golden stucco decorated vault and was formerly only used by Magistrates and important people...... that means ME! Oh wow, it’s so beautiful I hadn’t realised that I had stopped to stare in awe until three tourists fell over me. Climbing slowly up the stair case I couldn’t take my eyes off the ceiling with it’s gold and blues forming the backdrop of it’s splendour. Entering the first of the chambers things only got better! The ceiling was adorned with gold, the walls filled with the biggest paintings that I have ever seen, each and every part of the room was a delight in itself.

As we passed through room after room the riches became grander and grander, how much would this cost Zoe and I asked each other.

Woolly says – It never seemed to end, I stopped counting the chambers after ten and started to feel somewhat blasé about the rich décor as it went on and on and on, how would a criminal have felt being tried in such extravagance and glories would be anyone’s guess. As we appeared to reached the end of the magnificence, steps down led us to what the guilty would have faced after their sentencing from upstairs. The narrow corridor took us through the Bridge of Sighs, an enclosed bridge made of white limestone which has windows with stone bars. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo anal and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600. The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron as a translation from the Italian "Ponte dei sospiri" in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells. A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs as the bells of St Mark's Campanile toll.

It must have put real fear into them as we went deeper and deeper into the prison, dim lighting and thick wooden doors led into cells with no windows, with wooden boards to sleep on and wooden buckets for toilets, there seemed to be hundreds of cells.

Woolly says – you could have been locked up in there for years and never found! It was almost a relief to feel the sun on my fur once more as we arrived back into he court yard and with a last wistful look we took our leave. Jo suggested a drink break before starting our queuing section and with the thought of a snack I happily wandered behind her, sitting down amongst the pigeons and people I was happily imaging how venetian life much have been in it’s hey day even with the plague around when I noticed a deep frown on Jo’s face and it appeared that we weren’t staying.

I had wanted to treat us to a dink in the Square but at ten euros 50 for a coffee I felt it was stupid money, a minutes walk away from the super expensive areas we seated ourselves at a café and for a mere ten euros had coffee and soft drinks all round.

Woolly says – Finding the back of the queue took quite a while and as we settled into wait, we moved a few paws worth every now and then, having checked out the small stalls nearby Zoe headed off to find a post box for our cards when suddenly the line started moving and kept on moving, I gazed round looking for her but it was impossible to spot her amongst the thousands that were taking pictures or listening to their guides, as we reached four from the front I wondered if she would make it or would she miss out!

I was met with fifty strange stares as I let person after person proceed in front of me until finally spying Zoe heading in our direction.

Woolly says – Would I have left her....hmmmmm maybe! The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of the city. Famous for it’s Italio Byzantine architecture originally it was the chapel of the Doge, and has only been the city's cathedral since 1807. Built in the 11th century the building has been known by the nickname of the Church of gold, it was easy to see why as we entered, gold mosaics filled the place. The domes above our head were amazing as picture after picture depicted the life and times of Jesus, the floor under our feet was strange and I felt as though I was walking on waves as it undulated under me, with Venice sinking it appears that the lagoon is trying to take this impressive building as it’s first victim. A quick look into the treasury with it’s incredible reliefs and icons with the gold work done in such detail it was hard to comprehend how much work had gone into things. As we followed the crowds round I wondered how rich it would look if the tiny tiles of each picture was polished once more, you would probably need sunglasses!

Finding some steps we climbed upwards and into the museum area, where even more mosaics featured, Woolly and I stood admiring the four bronze horses that had adorned the outside until they had been replaced and removed in the 70’s to preserve them.

Woolly says – they would have made fine steeds and as we stepped out onto the terrace area I noted that the newer editions were very poor relatives in comparison. The view from above the square was remarkable and as Jo snapped happily away I took in the wonders that Venice had to offer from the canals, the buildings and opulence, what a place, what a wonder.....when can we come back?

We were hot, tired and footsore so it seemed only right that we took to the water.

Woolly says – Although I had begged and pleaded for the gondolier option I knew that it was something that another trip might bring, I suggested a water taxi thinking that it might be the next best thing but one look at Jo’s face when told the cost meant that wasn’t going to happen either. I considered jumping into a gondolier with another group of tourists, surely they wouldn’t notice me! It appeared that we were taking the tradesman route and even though I moaned it appeared that the girls were ignoring me as we waited for the water bus.

I knew he was disappointed but the difference between the 80 euros for one method and the 8 euros for the other was a no brainer.

Woolly says – as we set off onto the Grand Canal the water was much choppier than I had expected but speeding past the wonders that we had visited and the places that we hadn’t had time for this visit I just know that one day I will be back!

You can also check out Zoe's vlog to see more of our adventures...... they usually come out a few days later than the blog

Additional photos below
Photos: 56, Displayed: 31


30th June 2016
St Mark's Basilica

So much art and beauty
Love your photos of St Marks and the square :)
30th June 2016
St Mark's Basilica

Thank You
Defiantly a place where you just can't stop taking pictures!
30th June 2016
So many ceilings it makes your neck ache!

Look up!
30th June 2016
So many ceilings it makes your neck ache!

Look up.....
...we all had neck ache by the time we left but so worth it
1st July 2016
The Golden Staircase

Never-ending Beauty!
Brilliant to head into the cathedral and palace for your day of clouds and rain to just be surrounded by grandeur and beauty. I'm so slow and such a gawker that I had to spend a day in each of those richly detailed wonders. Lovely visit you had!
5th July 2016
The Golden Staircase

Beauty indeed
We did wish we had longer and will have to go back in the future.....don't think anyone is arguing on that front!

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