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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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November 23, 2017

Wednesday in Venice

Okay, first off,  my sister let me know that my Tuesday post ended abruptly in mid-sentence.  I went back into it and added the rest of the pictures (only 3 or 4) with not nearly as nice descriptions, etc., but I can only say I had a full day Wednesday with 102 pictures to consider!  So if you revisit Tuesday, you can see the rest and I apologize for whatever happened. :)

So, now Wednesday - much of the day (in fact most) was spent in the area of the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's - two of the most famous and popular sites in Venice.  And I'm certainly glad we are visiting this late in the year - I think the summer months would be almost unbearable.  There are still a lot of tourists here now, but not enough to make you feel claustrophobic or cramped.

My camera told me I took 102 pictures but I've tried to whinny them down to a somewhat manageable amount.  But you know me and pictures - I just keep snapping away.

So, we started out Wednesday morning for the Doge's Palace which I wanted to see because of what I had read about it in the guide books.  The doges were appointed by the republic (the longest running republic in the world until Napoleon came along) as the head of government.  Being a republic, the people could get rid of them if the consensus was they weren't doing their job.  One doge was very much gotten rid of - they dragged him off and beheaded him.  They also removed every trace of him - there are no paintings, sculptures, etc., of him everywhere and if he was painted onto a wall, that painting was blacked out.  Anyway...here is the courtyard of the palace showing the giant staircase which is really lovely.  An interesting tidbit is that a LOT of the materials that make up this beautiful building were plundered from other countries, cities, whatever and Venice slowly built up their territories.  They would bring back statuary, pillars, marble, whatever and use it to build their city.
All the white is the palace - all the brickwork behind (and the domes) is St. Mark's Basilica - the building that for tourists is top of the list.  Most of my pictures today are from the palace, so here we go.

After we entered the building, the first few rooms we entered were rooms of pillars, cornices from pillars, some sculpted heads, etc., all originally part of the outside "decoration" of the palace but brought inside because of damage or whatever.  And for some reason I was enthralled with them -  I think it's wonderful they saved them and can't begin to imagine how much labor and time must have been involved in getting them inside. They were all different and each room had cards in 3 languages(!) saying what the cornices were and it was fun trying to match them with the information. The one above is either from one labeled "Solomon and seven wise men" or "Ancient kings and emperors"  There were 6 different pillars with cornices in that room.
I wish you could put notes on the photos in your camera because I knew I wouldn't remember these.  This particular pillar looks like there are women on it and there were a couple of mentions of women on the cards.  This one may be "Heads of western women".

This room had 38 pillars along various other "bits and pieces".  The cornice below shows the winged lion and the one below that is "Men with shaved heads" - who knows why that needed to be immortalized but it just tickled me.




 Have no idea what this one was - maybe "Men who were terrified"?  No, probably not...
 Now, this is the sculpted head of one of the doges and it is amazingly lifelike - all the wrinkles, sunken eyes, pouches, etc., vividly detailed.  I love it!
 Now we're back outside and getting some close-ups of the magnificent giant staircase - the staircase inside is called the Golden Staircase and you'll see why in a bit.
 The marble is so beautiful - it's not shiny and has what I think is really unusual coloring.
 This is looking up the staircase and every surface that isn't beautiful marble has been carved with attractive designs, the stairpost above being a good example along with the delicate carving on each and every stair riser.  They sure didn't stint!
 Above we have St. Theodore, Dragon Slayer and Warrior.  A number of the "parts" for this statue came from Venice's sacking of Constantinople in 1204.  Once assembled he was named St. Theodore and became the patron saint of Venice until St. Mark became patron saint of Venice
 And here's my "I'm really here" picture for this trip. :)
 Above is a corner section of the Doges' Palace with St. Mark behind and the corner of the Giant Staircase on the right.  We went inside this entrance and it led us to the Golden Staircase and with the picture below, you will see why it's called that.  There's a lot of gold leaf, probably some gold paint, and it is really breathtaking.  There are two flights of stairs, both with two of these vaulted, gold-leafed gorgeous ceilings.


 There is some sort of designer/arts thing going on in Venice and all over the city are sometimes strange, often huge, "installations" which will not be permanent - they'll be taken down and I don't know what happens to them then.  But they're both outside and inside buildings and it's been kind of disconcerting to be in museum rooms looking at beautiful artwork and come across something like the above with my master photographer son lying on the floor taking a picture of it.  A couple of them stopped me from being able to take the picture I wanted because they were between me and what I wanted to shoot.  But, there's plenty of other things I can take pictures of, that's for sure.

 A beautiful wood door in the palace...
 I've taken more pictures of ceilings than anything else, so far, I think.  They are so spectacular.



 This was in the justice section of the palace and is a slot through which citizens could tattletale on their neighbors or lodge complaints, etc.
  I think there was an armory section in the palace or at least a military section and I was really surprised to see these weapons which I'm pretty sure are automatic, repeating type guns.
 Above is a not great picture of the major council hall where the doges and up to 2000 members of the aristocracy met to do whatever that many people do in a meeting.  It is a huge room with a platform area under mural on this wall with chairs where most likely the doge sat surrounded by his major aides.  The rest of the room is bare floor space except for around the other three walls where there are built in seats for I think up to 100 people.  I haven't found the dimensions of the room anywhere yet but it mammoth.  The picture below will give you a bit of an idea as to its size..I'm standing close to the back wall and the people up near the front wall are very small.


 I was up high enough that I could get a closer shot of the fancy top corner of the Palace in front of the many domes of St. Mark's.
 And there's St. Mark's bell tower poking up above it all.

This is a photo of the Bridge of Sighs which connects the Doges' Palace on the left of the canal to the prison in the building on the right side of the canal.  It got the name from the idea that prisoners having been sentenced to prison probably sighed as they walked across and peered through the little openings for a last look at their beautiful Venezia.
 So we walked across the Bridge of Sighs and peered through a few of the openings and this was about as much of a picture as I could get.  The bridge you see in the distance with a lot of people is where they stand to take pictures of the Bridge of Sighs.
They have somehow managed a way to preserve panels of graffiti from the walls of the cells such as this one.  Some interesting artwork down there. :)
A hallway of cell doors...
The exercise courtyard.  This was totally enclosed on all four sides by the four levels of cells. The picture could only get in three floors.
Quite an ..ancient and massive door...
One cell showed the "beds" the prisoners were supplied with.
And this is a peek walking back across through the bridge to the Grand Canal side of the bridge with people again taking pictures of "our" bridge.
I really like this and this is my best picture of it.

I'm going to post this now and tomorrow will find out from Chris what else we did besides this.  These are all the pictures I have from Wednesday so it may be we just wandered around a bit although even then I'd think I'd have pictures.

Right now I have to say buona sera because it's way later than it should be and I have been wrestling with photos and my Mac AirBook photo program most of the night rather than catching up on posting.  Saturday we leave for Florence and I'll know way more about what I'm seeing there and maybe things will get easier.  I hope so.

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