Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Raised Sidewalks in St. Mark's Square

Raised Sidewalks for Lines to St. Mark's Cathedral

Scala Cantorini del Bovolo, Venice's Answer to Pisa


Few places look good in the rain. Venice is no exception. Indeed, it could be argued it looks worse than most. The desolation of the place is accentuated by the tour groups trailing their guides, umbrellas aloft, rain soaked trousers and dismal faces questioning where they are going and why. We saw this at lunchtime as we waited on our room being cleaned. Next door at the restaurant a group had had lunch and the guide was coaxing them out to see St. Mark's Square. Half were standing in the rain with umbrellas at the ready while the other half were still inside trying to avoid the guide's instructions. Not a pretty sight on what should have been one of the highlights of their holiday.

We woke to light rain, had breakfast and left in rain of steadily increasing force. We followed one of Rick Steve's walks from St. Mark's Square to the Rialto Bridge. We had hopes of continuing on to the Academie Bridge, but common sense forbade that. Earlier in our visit we had passed what looked like stacks of low tables in the square, I do not think my explanation that these became raised sidewalks when the square flooded was accepted. Well, this morning, there was no sign of disbelief from Christine when we passed a line of tourist perched atop them as we passed St. Mark's Cathedral.

We crossed the square and remarked, as we had last night, how close the water was to the level of the sidewalk. We continued round various streets, some familiar, but more fully explained by the book, and some new. We discovered the Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice's non-leaning Tower of Pisa. In reality the outside staircase of a former palace. Towards the end of the walk the rain beat down even more heavily and we took refuge in a cafe for a welcome cappuccino.

We ended the walk at the Rialto Bridge where we saw the water lapping over the bases of the buildings. We headed back to the hotel, picking up fruit for lunch on the way. Our room had not been made up, so after drying off we adjourned to the hotel lobby to allow the housekeeping staff to do their work.

We returned when they were done and had our light lunch and caught up on the news, courtesy of the BBC World Service. The relaxation is somewhat welcome, but we could not help reflecting that it would have been even more welcome if it had been spent by returning to Murano or Burano in sunshine.

We eventually went out and purchased some plastic bags to cover our cases in case it is still raining tomorrow as predicted. Christine also bought sandals for the cruise - I thought she should have got a discount considering the weather.

We had dinner at another different restaurant, and again we had no complaints with the food. We walked round the square under the colonnades and felt sorry for some new arrivals who were soaked to the skin and had mounds of luggage. We wonder if we will meet them on the cruise tomorrow!

We got back to the hotel and started to pack for the cruise. Once we got to the ship, we at least know it will be 10 days before we have to pack and unpack again! Hopefully the day will be brighter than yesterday or today.

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