We are in Venice Italy today, November 6, 2009. We arrived, after an all-night, uneventful (thank goodness!) flight from Atlanta via JFK in New York, at 9:45 yesterday morning. Our ship will sail at 1:00 PM today.
It was VERY cold and rainy in Venice when we arrived yesterday morning. We arrived one hour and 15 minutes early, which seemed to throw the cruise line personnel into a dither. This ship has been in drydock for a year and this is one of the first cruises of its new tenure, so perhaps that is the explanation. We had to sit in the check-in building (c-o-l-d) and wait for them to allow us to board the ship. The people from the last cruise were still just leaving the luggage-collection area when our busload from the airport arrived to check in.
It was completely dark at 5PM last night. I developed a headache on the flight and was in significant and debilitating pain by the time we arrived on the ship. Because of the headache, jet lag, and the weather, we did not do anything all day.
We had signed up for a shore excursion for Saturday; but in our confusion born of exhaustion, we misread the departure time and overslept and missed the tour. Needless to say, it was upsetting to just throw that money away! We took a water taxi into Venice and had a great couple of hours on our own. We walked into St. Mark's Square and saw many of the attractions that our tour was supposed to cover.
We were scheduled to sail at 1:00 PM, so they scheduled the emergency drill for 12:00 -- just as we were returning to the ship from Venice. After we sailed, I went back to bed (headache still pounding in spite of much too much tylenol) and Jim went to a movie. It was formal night on the ship, and we did not feel like dressing up, so we just stayed in.
Here is information about Venice that I found before we left Atlanta.
Average Temperature during the month of Nov: 39-52
Based on my internet-site reading, the following are the Top Ten Things to See in Venice.
- Canal Grand (The Grand Canal) - Grand views, galleries, museums, and beautiful Venetian Gothic style palaces -- these are just a few of the sights visitors will see while floating down the Grand Canal in a vaporetto (Venice waterbus). Another way to explore the Grand Canal is by Gondola or motorboat. The Grand Canal begins at Piazetta San Marco and ends at the rail station.
- Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica) – Finished in 1094, houses a number of otherworldly relics from all over the world and the icon of the Madonna of Nicopeia. Other points of interest include: the atrium, the baptistery, Pala d'Oro, and the Marciano Museum and the Loggia dei Cavalli
- Venetian home of Peggy Guggenheim, one of the most outstanding art collections in the world. Visitors to the home can browse through works by Jackson Pollock, Max Ernst, Picasso, Chagill, Delvaux, Salvador Dali, Duchamp, and Mondrian.
- Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto - Possibly built around 421, also called San Giacometo, is considered the oldest church in Venice. Highlights include the great clock, the Gothic Portico (one of the last remaining examples in the city), and the interior design.
- Palazzo Pisani - stands at one of the most beautiful points along the Grand Canal. The architecture is significant, due in part, to the palace’s façade, which features two levels of Gothic mulliones windows. Inside, Baroque decoration can be found throughout by the best Venetian artists of the XVIIIth Century. Other points of interest include the grand staircase, antique furnishings, and the palace's art collections.
- Torre dell'Orologio (The Clock Tower) - Also known as St. Mark’s Clock Tower or the Moors Clock Tower, The Clock displays the current phase of the moon, the dominant sign of the zodiac, and of course, the time of day. The Clock Tower is 500 years old and it is one of Venice’s top tourist attractions.
- Museo Storico Navale (Naval History Museum) – Some of the most interesting items are on display at Museo Storico Navale such as a lavish gondola that belonged to Peggy Guggenheim and several historic barges. The Museum has three floors featuring everything from Second World War torpedoes and artillery pieces to decorative 17th and 18th century gondola prows.
- San Rocco – features canvases by Tintoretto. Works can be found throughout the entire space – in the upper and lower halls, a grand hallway, and in a separate room which includes Tintoretto’s Crucifixion. Campo San Rosso.
- St. Mark’s Square – the heart of Venice. Many of the city’s main attractions are located nearby, including St. Marks Basilica, Doge’s Palace, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), and Piazetta San Marco.
- San Zaccaria – a Gothic church that also houses a number of works of art. One of the major works that can be found here is Giovanni Bellini’s Madonna Enthroned. Works by Tintoretto, Anthony Van Dyck, Bassano, Il Vecchio, and Titian can also be found here as well as the frescoes of Andrea al Castagno. Campo San Zaccaria, Castello.
History of Venice:
Founded fifteen hundred years ago on a cluster of mudflats in the centre of the lagoon, Venice rose to become Europe's main trading post between the West and the East, and at its height controlled an empire that spread north to the Dolomites and over the sea as far as Cyprus. As its wealth increased and its population grew, the fabric of the city grew ever more dense. Very few parts of the hundred or so islets that compose the historic centre are not built up, and very few of its closely knit streets bear no sign of the city's long lineage. Even in the most insignificant alleyway you might find fragments of a medieval building embedded in the wall of a house like fossil remains lodged in a cliff face.
In the heyday of the Venetian Republic, some 200,000 people lived in Venice, not far short of three times its present population. Merchants from Germany, Greece, Turkey and a host of other countries maintained warehouses here; transactions in the banks and bazaars of the Rialto dictated the value of commodities all over the continent; in the dockyards of the Arsenale the workforce was so vast that a warship could be built and fitted out in a single day; and the Piazza San Marco was perpetually thronged with people here to set up business deals or report to the Republic's government. Nowadays it's no longer a living metropolis but rather the embodiment of a fabulous past, dependent for its survival largely on the people who come to marvel at its relics.