Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Venezia, day 2 – the Campanile and a little window-shopping

On Wednesday morning, we had breakfast on the terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. This was the view from our table (and if you look to the right from here, you'll see the view from the front of the AA Citypack guidebook - DH spotted that one).

It was gorgeous sitting there in the sun, drinking coffee and freshly squeezed ruby orange juice, and eating croissants.

Because the day was glorious, we knew that the views from the bell tower would be good, so our first stop that morning was the 90-metre-high Campanile. Originally, it was a combined lighthouse and bell tower (when the Piazzetta was the city harbour) and there were five bells - the Marangona for the beginning and end of the working day, the Trottiera to tell the Maggior Consiglio to go to the chamber, the Nona for midday, the Mezza Terza for a Senate session, and the Renghiera (also known as the Maleficio) to give notice for an execution. If you were a 'person of scandalous behaviour', you could be stuck in a cage that was hauled up the tower (and if you were lucky you'd be let out after a few days).

This is where Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
We went up to the top by lift (though apparently Emperor Frederick III rode his horse up the internal ramp - oh, and the first time Goethe saw the sea was from here). The tower was rebuilt after it collapsed on 14 June 1902 (nobody was hurt and apparently the bricks tell so neatly that the only real damage was to the end wall of the library).
The bells themselves are fascinating.
And the views were indeed fantastic. (Just look at the colour of the sea.)

There are two marble lions outside the Basilica, built in the 18th century, and apparently they're the first thing children make a beeline for. Someone was sitting on one of them as we walked past, and the smallest member of my research team was desperate to do the same…

Then we decided it was time to head to a different quarter of the city – and on the way we did some window-shopping, We headed under the Torre dell'Orologio (Horological Tower - built 1496-1506)

and through to the main shopping area (this is the quickest way to the Rialto); and in those streets we discovered exactly what Venice is really famous for.

Glassware (this is gorgeous, especially that blue bowl, but you’re looking at 4-figure sums for the pieces here).

Fabric – silk, damask, velvet, and I absolutely love the blue-and-gold designs.

And masks.
My favourites were the ones made from wire. Littlest utterly loved them (except, being a writer-in-training, she came up with a few spooky thoughts involving the jester and doctor masks…). Obviously proper masks are made from papier mache and painted – one of the mask-makes told me that four coats of enamel/varnish will make a mask as strong as wood.

And there are lots of expensive shops – all kinds of designer names. Including one that made the boys a tad excited.


susanwilson44 said...

Gorgeous pictures Kate, it looks absolutely fabulous!

Jan Jones said...

Beautiful - but not cheap!

Shirley Wells said...

Wonderful pictures. The glass is stunning. As for sitting in the sunshine with coffee, croissants and freshly squeezed orange juice - perfect!

Window shopping, hm. I'm waiting to see what happened when you went inside the shops. (Speaking here as someone who bought a handbag that cost almost as much as the holiday. Ahem. :o))

Kate Hardy said...

Susan - it was! You'll really enjoy it there.

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - sadly, very true! A 3cm-high paperweight similar to the one I have on my desk was more than £100...

Kate Hardy said...

Shirley - there were some truly beautiful pieces. And oh that it were nice enough to have breakfast outside, here! (But the volcanic ash might be having an effect today - it's certainly affected flights from Norwich.)

As for what happened when we went inside... actually, I was remarkably restrained *g*