We spent the afternoon wandering round – starting with San Marco Piazza (a 2-minute walk from our hotel, if that) and seeing the Basilica for the very first time.
Then we wandered to the end of the square and turned round to see just how huge the Campanile (bell tower) is.
Finding your way around Venice is pretty confusing at first, but then we started to get our bearings. It's really strange how some parts are heaving and then only 100 steps away the calle are empty. The architecture is beautiful; I particularly love the bridges, and the way the water is reflected on the arch underneath the bridge.
We found our way through to the Ponte dell'Accademia (Accademia bridge); of the three bridges that cross the Grand Canal, this one's the nearest. The Austrians built an iron bridge there in 1854 but, when the larger vaporetti couldn't get under it, it was replaced by a wooden bridge in 1932. This was meant to be a temporary bridge, but a steel substructure was put in and it's now permanent.
This was the ‘WHEN are we going to stop for gelati?’ moment from youngest research team member. (Answer: now…)
We've enjoyed window shopping - the art and glass here are gorgeous. Madam was desperate for a mask and we had fun buying one in Dorsoduro (cough, not vocab I knew, and the shopkeeper spoke no English, but we muddled through between us - the people here are lovely, very friendly).
Then it was time for gelati - cacao (choc) for son, fragola (strawberry) for DH and Madam, and nocciola (hazelnut) for Madam and me. (Her first one was served in a cone and she likes hers in a tub, so there were some tears until Daddy ate the cone part and Mummy bought her una copetta).
I didn't have enough time to brush up my Italian properly before we came away, but I'm surprised by how quickly it's coming back. The waiter in the trattoria where we had dinner tonight was very complimentary when I ordered dinner and managed to tell him who wanted what, which really chuffed me.
Had another wander round after dark; Venice is glorious.
I loved seeing Venus over Venice (not a brilliant pic but that white blob is indeed the planet). There is a family joke about my bestest aunt texting me the news that my cousin had just got engaged 'in Venus' and was 'over the moon' (bless her - that's a spelling mistake that always, always makes me smile, because in that case it was so appropriate!). So as soon as we spotted Venus, DH came out with, 'Do you remember that text?'
The canals are turquoise by day but inky at night; and the Piazza San Marco is wonderful, all lit up.
String quartets and grand pianos play under pergolas outside the caffes (Quadri and Florian, the two oldest coffee houses in the city - with stratospheric prices to go with it).
Oh, and did I mention that our hotel was next door to a famous landmark? (We didn’t have a Bellini there, simply because the children were too young… otherwise we might’ve been tempted!)
And so, after a stroll along the Grand Canal (having walked 30k steps on our first day in Venice), to bed.