Sept. 8, 2016 The Vaporetto to Morano, Evening Gondola, and "Battle of the Bands"
After a good night’s sleep, we had a great breakfast at the hotel and waited until noon (our jet lag day, after all) to head out to Murano, the island famous for artistry in glass. We explored the shops where the glass ranged from elegant, unique, and expensive to mass produced trinkets. Nothing really whetted our appetites, except a lunch at Marlin Pizza where we had a mushroom-ham thin crust and a green salad.
Back on the boat, we crossed the stretch of open water to Venice. Exploring is tiring and after a nap and showers, we went down to the hotel’s happy hour where a wide array of cheeses, hams, bruchetta, and salami took off our edge of hunger.
As dusk settled, we headed to the San Toma vaporetto dock and to St. Mark’s Square where we found our evening gondola ride at a quiet canal dockage behind St. Mark’s Square. On our previous visit to Venice, we had taken a daylight gondola ride, but this was our 50th Anniversary and we wanted something more romantic. The gondola wove around narrow back canals and often the gondolier shouted a warning cry as he turned into yet another narrow waterway. It actually sounded like he was in pain when we heard him shout out a warning at the blind turn - but that is the traditional cry with no horns to honk! Carlo did not sing, but he whistled as he expertly guided the boat. We did enter the Grand Canal for a short stint and got to see the Rialto Bridge in all its lighted glory. The moon is waxing toward half and made a wonderful light over this magical city. There are only a few pictures - this is a romantic experience!
But our romantic evening was not over. We headed back to St. Mark’s Square and found a table at Lavena Caffe where a 5-piece orchestra was playing in the “Battle of the Bands” which is a Venice tradition. The bulk of the audience stands outside the roped off area while paying customers at tables enjoy a close up view. We ordered wine and a light snack. There was another orchestra down to our left and the two bands battled it out, alternating playing sets of music to see which could get the loudest applause. Tom mentioned our 50th anniversary to the waiter and our band got a very enthusiastic applause when they broke out into “The Anniversary Waltz” and we got up and danced. We finally got back to our hotel at midnight. What a great evening!