A plan was hatched for a girls weekend away a year ago and after putting away £20 each per month an amazing opportunity came up to stay in a colleague’s house in Venice.
After the luxury of a weekday lie in we headed for Luton Airport. We had an uneventful journey and on arrival in Venice we caught the water taxi into town! Fabulous way to get a feel for the place.
The house is absolutely fantastic. 4 bedrooms. 3 bathrooms. Really central. It’s so weird being in a city when we’re used to the countryside, but even weirder not having any traffic !
We had booked a table at a particular restaurant for the first night but even using several phones as sat navs we just couldn’t find it. Every path /alley we took lead back to water ! It was lovely though wandering around and just taking in the atmosphere. The Rialto Bridge was beautifully lit.
In the end we went back to San Stefano Piazza which is near our house. We ate outside at Le Cafe and all had pizzas washed down with a couple of bottles of wine – fabulous
Having woken to the sound of Church bells ringing we headed straight off to Murano. We’re just off Campo San Maurizio where this Bell Tower is definitely not completely upright !
We were lucky enough to pass the Bridge of Sighs before it got too busy.
We took the vaporetto to Murano. We bought a 2 day pass which worked out brilliantly.
In 1291 the mayor of Venice ordered that all glass factories be moved to the island of Murano to prevent factory fires from spreading through Venice.
Workers were discouraged from leaving and so great were the secrets of the trade that absconders were tracked down and assassinated.
I really loved Murano, a beautiful island with many glass shops.
Sadly we didn’t get to see any glass making but the glass museum was amazing and so much more interesting than I had expected.
It was fascinating to see how the millefiori beads are made. Just like rock !
The rooster is the symbol of Murano – sometimes portrayed with a fox on its back and a snake in its mouth to represent the fact that all were equal – nobility to commoners. This glass sculpture is fantastic.
The Church of Santa Maria and San Donato was beautiful. It has a fantastic mosaic floor which is said to contain the relics of Saint Donatus and large bones behind the altar are said to be the bones of a dragon that he slayed.
After a quick refreshment stop we took the vaporetto back to St Mark’s Square.
St Marks Cathedral is adjacent and connected to the Doge’s Palace. It was originally the private Chapel of the Doge.
I was actually a little underwhelmed by the interior of the cathedral. It was so dark and dingy with only small windows that it actually felt quite depressing. The walls and ceiling were decorated with gold mosaic but the only place you could really appreciate it was the precincts where the light was streaming in.
We had a wander round St Mark’s Square enjoying the atmosphere.
There were musicians playing at various locations which was lovely.
The seagulls had no respect for the statues on the Biblioteca.
Next on our agenda was the bell tower.
Unbelievably we were chatting to a couple in the lift who lived right opposite the Convent in Abingdon (our old school) !
The tower is 323ft tall originally used as a watchtower/lighthouse for the docks.
There were fantastic views from the top.
We wandered back to our house for a wash and brush up before heading out to a delicious pasta supper.
Our second day was a full on wandering day. We took the vaporetto up to the Jewish Quarter.
Venice’s Jewish ghetto is the oldest in the world and where the word “ghetto” originated. It was created in 1516 and prior to being a Jewish settlement was the area of metal factories where the Venetians built their cannons. The name for the left over metal was Getto.
Jews were originally compelled to live in this segregated area of the City by the government, but in 1797 the French conquered Venice (lead by Napoleon Bonaparte) and ended the ghetto’s separation from the City.
Today the Ghetto is still a centre of Jewish life, fewer living there by at least now as their choice.
It was sad to see police guards outside the synagogue. London is the same now, it’s really quite shocking.
The Holocaust memorial is a series of wall plaques depicting very moving scenes.
We did a spot of shopping
And had a short refreshment stop
Then we took a vaporetto back into the City
Then another across to San Georgia.
From where there were fabulous views back over the City.
San Giorgio monastery was established in 982 when the whole island was donated to the Benedictine monks by the Doge.
The church was filled with paintings, several by Tintoretto.
Again there were great views from the bell tower.
Even here there were glass sculptures, like this serpent.
After popping home to freshen up,
we took the vaporetto across to Giudecca to watch the sunset – disappointingly a cloud bank rolled in and obscured the sun but we enjoyed a quiet moment none the less.
As we hadn’t booked anywhere to eat we struggled to find anywhere so we caught the vaporetto back over and had luck with a lovely restaurant jutting out over the water.
On our last morning we visited the Doges Palace.
The Doge’s Palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice who was the chief magistrate.
The council chambers were numerous, vast, and exquisitely decorated.
The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.
The bridge’s name was actually given by Lord Byron as a translation from the Italian “Ponte dei sospiri” in the 19th century but in reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells were occupied mostly by small-time criminals.
We then wandered back to the house to pack and get ready for our journey home.
A really fabulous break. I’m sure we will all return.