Venice

17 Dec

The week starts in Carcès, moves to Venice and ends in Gualdo which is located in the Macerata provence of the Marche region of Italy.  Been a bit busy since we arrived at our Italian house sitting assignment so apologies for the late posting.

The weather in the Var was cold on Monday and Tuesday but the days were clear and sunny.  On Monday we headed to Chris and Nadia’s place at Salernes to help them with moving some things around.  Their place is a work in progress but it is really starting to look great and they still have lots of plans for further development.  It was really nice to spend some time with them.

Since we are going to be away from the area for Xmas and New Year Leanne had made some small presents for a couple of people and we did the rounds delivering them in the late afternoon.  We also visited the Le Thoronet Mairie (Town Hall) to check on the documents we would need in order to apply for a one year extension to our French visas.  It all seems straightforward but as we have learned here in the past, the French have bureaucracy down to a fine art and they always keep some critical requirement hidden until the very last minute.  Its like a sport except the rules are only revealed after you needed to know them.  You just have to keep a sense of humour.

We spent Tuesday doing some jobs around La Regalade so that it would be in good shape while we are away.  We also needed to think about packing.

The packing got finished off on Wednesday morning and we hit the A8 at 0930 after completing a couple of errands.  The weather was perfect for driving – cool, dry and sunny.  We only had a couple of quick stops on the 550km drive to Brescia.  One of them was at Cremona where there had been recent snow and the fields were all lightly coated.

By the time we left Brescia on Thursday morning it was 10am and we headed directly to the Marco Polo Airport on the mainland near Venice.  That was where we parked the car for the three days we spent in Venice itself.  The cost of parking in Venice is ~€30+ per day (space is scarce) and is not near the hotels anyway.  Although the water bus to the hotel was €15 each and the parking was €7 a day it was still the easiest option.  We got to the hotel right on checkin time and it was beautiful.

The Rialto Bridge was where we set foot in Venice after the water bus trip from the airport.  The day we arrived was the best weather we had so fortunately we did go out for a wander before settling in to the hotel.

The Rialto Bridge was where we set foot in Venice after the water bus trip from the airport. The day we arrived was the best weather we had so fortunately we did go out for a wander before settling in to the hotel.

View from Rialto Bridge

View from Rialto Bridge

View from the other side of the Rialto Bridge

View from the other side of the Rialto Bridge

One of dozens upon dozens of small canals weaving through the city.

One of dozens upon dozens of small canals weaving through the city.

Our room at Hotel Pesaro Palace.  It was lovely and the wall coverings were fabric.

Our room at Hotel Pesaro Palace. It was lovely and the wall coverings were fabric.

No prize for guessing where this is - St Mark's Square.

No prize for guessing where this is – St Mark’s Square.

The Venetian equivalent of the London cab.  Also, note the water level to compare later.

The Venetian equivalent of the London cab. Also, note the water level to compare later.

St.Mark's Basilica.

St.Mark’s Basilica.

Xmas lights around the square.  Throughout the city there were displays in the streets and in shop windows; nice but not overdone.

Xmas lights around the square. Throughout the city there were displays in the streets and in shop windows; nice but not overdone.

These glass ornaments were amusing, especially the cat.

These glass ornaments were amusing, especially the cat.

After leaving Saint Mark’s Square we walked back to our hotel stopping on the way at a supermarket to buy water and wine (I am still no good at producing one from the other so we continue to buy them separately).  Dinner was found at a small restaurant near the hotel, nothing special and on the expensive side for what you got.  But I think that is Venice – relatively expensive.

Friday morning it was raining lightly as we had expected from the forecast.  Our rainy day plan was to visit the Doges Palace so we headed off on foot again to Saint Mark’s Square.  We got there about 1015 and got tickets for the 1135 tour.  That gave us some time to wander.  The raised walkways were in use around the Palace because there was water accumulating around the base of the building, either rain or tidal or perhaps a combination. Down by the waterfront the tide had been up on the paving by a couple of meters in places (seaweed left behind) and was still lapping over the edge on to the paving. Quite different from how it looked last night.

The obligatory picture of the Bridge of Sighs.  We crossed it on the Friday as part of our tour of the Doges Palace.

The obligatory picture of the Bridge of Sighs. We crossed it on the Friday as part of our tour of the Doges Palace.

11am on Friday and look at the water level now compared to 4pm on Thursday.  Unfortunately the weather forecast was more accurate than we would have liked and the rain had started during the night.

11am on Friday and look at the water level now compared to 4pm on Thursday. Unfortunately the weather forecast was more accurate than we would have liked and the rain had started during the night.

Pictures were not allowed inside on the Doges Palace Secret Tour so this is about my only photo.  It is the internal courtyard with the Basilica at the back.

Pictures were not allowed inside on the Doges Palace Secret Tour so this is about my only photo. It is the internal courtyard with the Basilica at the back. You will find lots of pictures of the interior if you search online.

The hour long tour of the Palace Secrets was very good.  Once it finished we were free to explore other parts of the Palace that had not been covered and we ended up not leaving for another 3.5 hours.  It was a very good visit.  I had no idea how sophisticated the Venetian justice system was even in the 12th century nor how developed their governance and administration processes were.  Impressive.

The 'traghetto' are a gondola service that for €2 (€0.50 if you are a local) will take you across the canal.  Standing only!

The ‘traghetto’ are a gondola service that for €2 (€0.50 if you are a local) will take you across the canal. Standing only!

Standing in a rocking gondola taking pictures.  Tricky.

Standing in a rocking gondola taking pictures. Tricky.

The crossing we took was packed tight - if anyone had slipped the concertina effect would have taken us all into the drink.

The crossing we took was packed tight – if anyone had slipped the concertina effect would have taken us all into the drink.

Looking back at our hotel.

Looking back at our hotel.

The reason we crossed was to have a look at the fish and produce markets and wander some of the streets nearby.  There was every type of seafood you could think of but I'll bet it is very ripe in the summer!  There were dozens of stalls like this one.

The reason we crossed was to have a look at the fish and produce markets and wander some of the streets nearby. There was every type of seafood you could think of but I’ll bet it is very ripe in the summer! There were dozens of stalls like this one.

Acres of produce as well.

Acres of produce as well.

Rain again on Saturday and did I mention already that the temperatures were 0 to 3˚C?  Thank goodness it wasn’t windy!  The rain was a real nuisance for me taking photos not only due to wanting to keep the camera dry but the lighting was so dim.  In three days I only took 200 photos when normally in such an amazing location I would expect to take 2~300 per day.

It was drizzling again on Saturday and a little misty.

It was drizzling again on Saturday and a little misty.

The water level was high again on Saturday too.

The water level was high again on Saturday too.

Can't have too many Gondola photos in Venice, can we?

Can’t have too many Gondola photos in Venice, can we?

Shops on the Rialto Bridge.

Shops on the Rialto Bridge.

Just to prove that it really was raining.  This was in Strada Nova, the street to the landside of our hotel - quite a busy precinct.

Just to prove that it really was raining. This was in Strada Nova, the street to the landside of our hotel – quite a busy precinct.

Taken from the main balcony of our hotel.  The red tarpaulins in the archways are sheltering the fish and produce markets.

Taken from the main balcony of our hotel. The red tarpaulins in the archways are sheltering the fish and produce markets.

This is the stand up Gondola service, the traghetto, in action.

This is the stand up Gondola service, the traghetto, in action.

The first floor landing of our hotel looking towards the main balcony that overlooks the canal.

The first floor landing of our hotel looking towards the main balcony that overlooks the canal.

We had a wonderful evening at a recital of Vivaldi's Four Seasons held in a beautiful church called Chiesa di San Vidal near the Academia Bridge.

We had a wonderful evening at a recital of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons held in a beautiful church called Chiesa di San Vidal near the Academia Bridge.

A better view of the church interior after the audience had departed.

A better view of the church interior after the audience had departed.

Some of the window displays were very attractive.  This was one window of two completely dedicated to gloves.

Some of the window displays were very attractive. This was one window of two completely dedicated to gloves.

On Sunday morning we got up early to pack and catch the 0830 water bus back to the airport.  We had another 5 hours of driving to do and wanted to get to our house sitting location in daylight.

We left Venice in a fog on Sunday morning.  This was taken from the water bus jetty just along from the Rialto Bridge.

We left Venice in a fog on Sunday morning. This was taken from the water bus jetty just along from the Rialto Bridge.

The first hour of the drive was in quite thick fog that suddenly lifted about 2km before Bologna.  Then at Rimini the road works started.  They continued for 155km!  What a right pain in the arse.  100kph, 90, 80, 60, 90, 60, 110… for bloody miles.

We got to Gualdo on schedule having lost the time we gained by leaving extra early but all was well.  I will fill in the details about Gualdo next week but before I go there was one little town on the SP78 near Gualdo that was remarkable.  This place was just a village stretched along the main road for 3~4km.  But they had at least 12 speed cameras, installed in pairs, one on each side of the road, 50kph limit with the first camera 20m past the sign.  You could see them lining the road to its vanishing point.  There has to be a story behind that somewhere.

That’s it for now.  Hopefully I can get back on schedule next week once we are settled in here at Gualdo.

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