Sunday, March 20, 2011

Venezia: Day 3 and departure

On the way to the Accademia

Richard & me on the bridge to the Accademia
View of the Grand Canal

Me on the vaporetto on the Grand Canal

San Michele, the island cemetery--Ezra Pound and Stravinsky are buried here!
Richard at dinner, with pizza diavola (spicy sausage) and chianti
Me at dinner with pescatore (seafood pasta) and pinot grigio
San Marco at night

Gondole at night
On our last night in Venice, we took a late night vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal after dinner
The Rialto bridge at night
The Grand Canal at night
Parting shots of Venice--the markets along the canal

First thing in the morning, we went to the Gallerie dell'Accademia. It's currently being renovated, so it was only partially open, but the big ticket 'must-see' pieces were still on display. We saw Veronese's The Feast in the House of Levi, the largest oil painting on canvas in the world (18 by 42 feet!). There were also a few paintings of Venice by Bellini and Carpaccio that were really great to see--it sort of brings the city's history to life. One of them, for instance, had women seeing their men off at the docks.

After the museum, we went ahead and got a 24-hour pass for the vaporetto. It's pricey, but we decided that we would need to take the vaporetto the next morning anyway to get to the bus station, and we might as well just have a boat day (we wanted to see San Michele, the graveyard island, and you can only get there by vaporetto). Besides, it's 18 euro for a 24-hour ticket, and you have unlimited rides for the time period you buy--very clever system.

First we went up the Grand Canal, because we hadn't really done that yet and it's supposed to be the way to see Venice. And because we needed to transfer to another vaporetto to get to Murano, the island where they do art glass. To be honest, the glass pieces were mostly gaudy--very bright, bold colors and designs, and all the shops in Venice and in Murano all had mostly the same stuff. None of it was delicate or ornate like Fenton glass. It was all very modern looking, which isn't really my thing. There were a few nice things, though, and I have to be careful what I say about it, because we did get a couple of souvenirs! On the way there, I got splashed when I sat at the back of the vaporetto, so the rest of the afternoon I felt a bit damp and sea-salty...A very nice Italian woman offered me a kleenex to dry my face & hair off a bit. She smiled and said "Welcome to Venice!" (Everybody else just stared...)

We were there at lunch time, and we looked the menu outside at a restaurant in the touristy bit of the island--they were charging 15 euros/person for their lunchtime menu turistico. Yikes! The hostess came out immediately and asked us (in English, of course) if we were having lunch. She had a look on her face that said 'come inside or go away, make your mind up right now.' You seriously cannot even look at a menu (that was posted outside) without getting jumped on. We said no, grazie, and kept walking. Luckily, we found a supermarket that was tucked away in a very cheesy little shopping centre, upstairs and behind all the little art glass studios. It was full of locals--definitely the one place in Murano where we wouldn't get spoken to in English. We got fresh bread and pastries from the bakery, meat and cheese, fruit, chocolate, bottled water--and I think in total we spent less than 1/2 of what we would've spent at the restaurant with the snotty hostess.

After lunch in Murano, we took the vaporetto to San Michele, where Venetians are buried (there aren't any cemeteries in the city itself). It was very big & beautiful--the graves are very well maintained, and they use a lot of artificial flowers. We weren't allowed to take pictures, but most of the graves had flowers on them, and most of the headstones had photos of the deceased (I've always found that a bit creepy). There are a few famous people buried there--Ezra Pound was the only one I was really interested in seeing, and his stone is a bit of a disappointment. It's small, only says his name, and it's under a bush. Stravinsky is buried there, too, but we didn't bother checking him out...Sorry, Igor, but we're not that into classical music.
(As I said, no photos allowed, so I took this one off google images)

After San Michele, we went back to Venice for a siesta (I took a shower and washed off the sea salt!). We did a little souvenir shopping before dinner. By this point, we were used to the Venetian shopkeepers' style and knew how to act. Basically, don't even enter a shop unless you intend to buy something, and you know exactly what it is that you want to buy. Do a lot of window shopping. Even that can be difficult sometimes--in the little jewelry boutiques around Piazza San Marco, the shopkeepers will stand behind the door and watch you window shopping. It's really disconcerting! My guess is that they have a lot of problems with tourists and this is how they keep them under control...but jeez, it's not fun to shop in Venice.

We had dinner at Aciugheta, that lovely place where we'd had wine the night before. The food was excellent. I did that guidebook recommendation of ordering the specials, and I ordered the linguine with seafood. It was delicious--seriously one of the best meals I've ever had (apart from Cracker Barrel). The sauce was very light--just olive oil and some tomatoes, and there were small strips of steamed zucchini mixed in with the steamed seafood. All the flavours just blended together so nicely--eating new things in a foreign country always gives me inspiration for cooking! I had the panna cotta al limoncello for dessert, and it was amazing, too. I'd never tried panna cotta before, but it's like a pudding--and this one was spiked with lemon liqueur and had mixed berries & berry sauce drizzled on top. Richard had pizza diavola, the spicy sausage one, and coffee-flavoured semifreddo for dessert--it's like a slightly softer ice cream.

We'd thought about having more wine in the bar area after dinner, but we were so tired & full, we decided to take a walk instead. We took some more pictures around San Marco, then had a little vaporetto ride (making full use of that 24hr pass!) up the Grand Canal to Rialto Bridge. We got off there and had some vin chaud (hot wine, they use the French name for it) and walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel. It was a lovely thing to do in the evening.

The next morning we headed back up the Grand Canal to our bus and went to the airport. Leeds was fogged out, so we got diverted to Liverpool (which I had no problem with--I love Liverpool!). We had lunch at the airport (which was surprisingly good), and then Ryanair's chartered buses came to take us back to Leeds. The buses were lovely--we had 4 leather seats around a table all to ourselves, so we put our feet up and relaxed.

All in all, it was a great trip--the good things, like delicious food & beautiful architecture, make up for the bad things, like rude people & getting splashed. I think next time, we'll go to Rome or Florence ;)

1 comment:

Debbie said...

sounds like a wonderful trip. Julie and I did two days at Ocean Shores and it rained the whole time! Still it was a nice break from studying. Tomorrow's the big exam. No more studying for me...only rest now.