Dream For Three

Learning more about the history of Venice

On Saturday 4th July we had a morning walking tour of Venice. We had an early breakfast in order to get to the tourist office by 8:50am. The guides arrived and confirmed everyone’s vouchers, then we headed to another part of the Square where more guides joined us and there were more vouchers to validate.

Eventually we got underway and our guide (Rosanna, I think she said) took us around various parts of Venice (about 1.5 hours), giving us not only history about Venice, but also some of the famous people – such as Marco Polo and Casanova. Thanks to a bit of research a day or two earlier, I was able to answer the first of her questions – why did people first move to Venice, when it was all uninhabitable marshland. The answer is that it was during the fall of the Roman Empire and barbarians were invading, but they couldn’t/wouldn’t cross the water.

The refugees, as they were, learned (or knew?) about petrified wood, so they drove huge trees down into the firmer lower ground of the marshland, then put wood on top and built on that base. There are literally millions of trees underneath Venice.

At the end of the tour we had the opportunity to continue with the tour of the Doge’s Palace and St Marc’s Basilica. We had been enjoying the commentary of the guide and were wanting to do these other tours, so we upgraded – 15 minutes later we were off again. During this tour we got more information about the history of the place, the religion, the politics, the merchants, and so on. We covered the cells, the residence of the Doge, why they tended to elect people who were at the end of their lives, and we got to climb more stairs.

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(The image above is where Marco Polo grew up, but there have been a number of fires, so it’s only approximate).

After those tours ended it was about 1:30pm. Our tour ticket included a trip to Murano but, since we had been there the day before, we decided to take a gondola ride instead. These are by no means cheap, but we took a 45 minute ride with some history and commentary (a lot of which we had just heard, but that was fine).

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For the rest of the afternoon we had a short lunch and went through the Museo Correr (which again was included as part of the walking tour). This museum covered a wide range of arts and even had a section (in the modern art area) about New Zealand.

The late afternoon and early evening was spent wandering the streets and stalls/markets – I was on the hunt for a particular Venice souvenir teaspoon, which I had seen earlier, but all we could find was the ones I didn’t want. Returning to St Marc’s square around 6:30pm-7:00pm, I found what I was looking for at the first stall – and it was more like the price I was prepared to pay (the ones I had seen earlier were a bit more expensive).

Since it was now getting late and we were all tired, we headed back to the apartment through the less touristy areas and found a nice place to have dinner – Trattoria Conca d’Oro. I think that translates (roughly) to Tavern of the Golden Dish, or something like that, but I could be wrong. This was the best service and the best meal we had had in Venice.

Eventually getting back to the apartment, we all crashed out quickly – hence the reason why I’m writing this several days later.

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