Robyn's 50th Birthday Celebration travel blog

Delivery Man

San Moise (1668), Called Italy's Most Grotesque Church

Tourists Along a Colourful Canal

Artists Outside the Fenice

Alley to the Westin

Flora Hotel

Limoncello!

You Better Duck!

Gondolas

Leaning Tower

Grand Canal From the Accademia Bridge

Looking the Other Way (Guggenheim Palazzo is White)

Our View at Lunch to Campo Santo Stefano

Entrance to Teatro Fenice

Our Hotel on the Grand Canal, From the Vaporetto

Lined Up

Even Nuns Have to Get Around Somehow

Say Goodbye to Venice

One Last Gondola

Well, Maybe One More


I was up at 8am and off to see a bit of the city before it woke up (and to buy a few postcards hopefully). I saw lots of different delivery men taking items off the canal boats and then hauling them up and down the stairs over canals by cart. Who needs gyms with weights when you can get your workout on the streets of Venice! This appears to be the only time that the "real" Venice is apparent nowadays, with Venetians either working to open shops or sitting or standing at cafes enjoying their first (?) espresso of the day. The rest of the day (I'm sorry to say), it almost feels like you're in Disneyland or the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas -- throngs of tourists in constant lineups, either fighting their way down the narrow streets or waiting to get into the tourist attractions or onto gondolas for their expensive trip around a bit of the city.

I was focused on seeing La Fenice today, the famous opera house of Venice. Built in 1792, various parts were restored over the years, and parts were being restored in 1996 when there was a fire that collapsed the roof and destroyed all the wooden parts of the theatre. What I didn't know is that the Italians traditionally build their theatres of wood for the sound quality. When it was explained that the theatre is like an instrument (e.g. a violin), it made sense that they would want the tone that you would get from wood. Anyway, more about La Fenice later.

I found the postcards and then spotted a café for a "traditional" Italian breakfast -- espresso and (if necessary) a toast. Italian toast is a toasted sandwich with ham and cheese, not toast and jam that we would expect in Canada.

Back to the hotel to actually write the postcards, then Janette and I went back to the café for breakfast before heading over to La Fenice. On the way there (and it was complicated, as the huge theatre is tucked in between houses, restaurants, and 1 of the twisting canals), we passed what appeared to be an art class (of 40-50 year olds), all doing sketches and watercolours of part of the canal, the buildings and a tower that was peeking around the corner. Such is Venice!

We found that La Fenice is only open 1:45-2:45 (definitely not long visiting hours), so went over to the Accademia Bridge (one of the only other bridges at this end of the city that actually spans the Grand Canal) and then had lunch in Campo Santo Stefano, one of the larger piazzas in Venice (of course not as big as St. Mark's). At one end of Campo Santo Stefano, the church tower (or campanile) is leaning precariously. I imagine that it is being supported somehow, but I still wouldn't want to live on the "lower" side of that one.

Back to La Fenice finally. I have just finished reading a book about La Fenice and the fire of 1996. It is called "City of Falling Angels" and is written by the same author as "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (John Berendt). The name of the book is because of a construction sign outside a building in Venice that was being restored, where some of the stone angels were cracking and falling off the building. The book is very good, written more like a novel than a non-fiction work. Not only is it about La Fenice, but about the people of Venice and Murano.

La Fenice has been completely rebuilt and restored to its original condition, and it is absolutely beautiful. You can still see some evidence of the fire in the upper floors on the floors and walls (the stone ones that were left). I had been keeping an eye on the Fenice website just in case there was a performance on our one night in Venice, but no such luck.

After doing the audio tour of the opera house, we returned to our hotel to pick up our overnight bags (and shopping) and back to the vaporetto to return to the car park at Piazzale Roma.

About an hour and a half back on the A4, a couple of wrong turns in Verona (not quite an expert yet) and we were back at the B&B. Janette has been fighting a cold so decided to stay in for the night. I phoned Lucca and we went for dinner to Papa e Cicia. Had a nice dinner and a bottle of wine and watched the football (soccer to North Americans) match between Italy and Ukraine for qualification to the European Cup. It was a tight match, with Italy scoring in the first half, Ukraine tying it up midway through the second half, then Italy coming through with about five minutes left.

A bit of gelato and back to the B&B to sleep. A very nice evening and welcome back to Verona.



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