Exploring Italy Family Style
After Florence, our next stop is Venice: We had decided during our trip planning that it would be logical to turn in the rental car in Florence, and take the train to Venice. This is because cars are not allowed in Venice, and the only place to park is on the mainland and no parking anywhere else.
Venice was historically an independent nation and the capital of the Serenissima Venetian Republic for more than a thousand years and known because of this it has been known as "La Serenissima". Venice is world-famous for its canals, and it is built on an archipelago of 118 islands formed by about 150 canals in a shallow lagoon.
Due to Venice's "pedestrian only" environment, you will have to move about by foot, gondola or "water taxi". Because there are also other islands located nearby that you may want to visit, you will need a book that details how to get around the area and how to do it. Go to Amazon and search for books that describe exploring Venice.
Parking: As I mentioned above, no cars are allowed in Venice, so if you drive here you are going to have to solve your parking challenge. Click here to go to a page that will give you a good list of all the parking lots that are available. Good luck !
A few interesting facts about Venice
- Venice is known for its bridges. There are 417 bridges in Venice, and 72 of those are private.
- Houses in Venice are numbered according to districts, not streets, making it difficult to find addresses, even for postmen. The rule of thumb is to look for a monument, shop, or landmark in close proximity.
- There are about 350 gondolas and 400 gondolieri in Venice. On average, gondolas are 11 meters long and weigh around 600 kilos.
- In the 1500s an estimated 10,000 gondolas of all types were in Venice; in 1878 an estimated 4,000 and now there are approximately 400 to 500.
- A Gondola can cost up to 38,000 Euros (as of 2013) to purchase.
- In 1608, the Council of Ten approved wearing masks only during the carnival. Those who broke the law were heavily punished. Punishments ranged from two years in prison to public beating and binding to the pillar of shame.
- There are 177 canals in Venice. The S-shaped Grand Canal is the biggest and splits the city in two.
- The San Marco bell tower, or campanile, was built in the 12th century and collapsed in 1902. The tower was rebuilt to be exactly the same as the previous one. It is 98.6 metres tall, making it the fifth tallest bell tower in Italy.
- Venice is sinking at the rate of 1-2 millimeters a year.
- The population of Venice has decreased from 120,000 to 60,000 in the last 50 years. Some experts believe Venice could be a ghost town by 2030 with only tourists visiting by day.
- The first woman in the world (Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Loredan Piscopia) that graduated from college, was born in Venice in 1646.
- The first public casino in the world was opened in Venice in 1638.
Venice Coat of ArmsImage is the property of Heraldry of the World
Florence: Stazione di Santa Maria Novella
We are waiting for the train to Venice to be ready to board, we got here a bit early because we
turned the rental car in and then had to get ourselves over to the train station.
Firenze Santa Maria Novella (in English Florence Santa Maria Novella) or Stazione di Santa Maria Novella (IATA: ZMS) is a terminus railway station in Florence, Italy. The station is used by 59 million people every year and is one of the busiest in Italy.
Venice: Santa Lucia Train Station
The travel time from Florence to Santa Lucia station was just a tick over 2 hours, in distance it is 160 miles and the train has to slow down as it crosses the bridge into Venice. This is much simpler than a car would have been !
Image Credits: Image # 1 (left) is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC. Image # 2 (right) is the property of MJJR via Wikimedia Commons.
Ponte degli Scalzi
The train pulls into the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia in Venice, and our B&B was just a block away from there, so we were out and about pretty quickly exploring.
The Ponte degli Scalzi; literally, "bridge of the barefoot [monks]"), is one of only four bridges in Venice, Italy, to span the Grand Canal.
The bridge connects the sestieri of Santa Croce and Cannaregio. On the north side, Cannaregio, are the Chiesa degli Scalzi (Church of the Barefoot or Discalced Monks) and the Santa Lucia (Ferrovia) railway station. The south side is the sestiere of Santa Croce.
Our Local Wine Shop
This wine shop was located on the Rio Terà Lista di Spagna (in the Campo San Geremia) just down the street from our hotel. Celeste and I would walk down here for an adult beverage before dinner time.
Grand Canal Water Taxis
Canal water taxi on the Grand Canal, they are called "vaporetto". This is a great way to get around, and cost
effective as well.
IMAGE CREDITS: Image # 2 (right side) is the property of Jean-Pol GRANDMONT via Wikipedia. All other images are the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC unless otherwise noted.
We took a water taxi over to Murano Faro, and visited this glass blowing factory. Touristy? Yes, but it was
an interesting exhibition.
Click here to visit their website.
This is the oldest
of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Connecting the
sestieri (districts) of San Marco and San Polo, it has been rebuilt several times
since its first construction as a pontoon bridge in the 12th century, and is now
a significant tourist attraction in the city.
Click here to view the Wiki page.
Saint Mark's Basilica
This is the plaza in front of Saint Mark's Basilica ("Piazza San Marco"). There has been an "open space" in front of a church here since 819AD, however, the plaza was constructed by Sebastiano Ziani during his time as Doge of Venice 1172 - 1178 and completed by his son Pietro Ziani when he became Doge in 1205.
Saint Mark's Basilica Pigeons
The birds in this plaza have learned that the tourists will feed them, so they flock here in the hundreds! The bird population is thought to be over 100,000 which is larger than the human population of Venice! The city of Venice has made it illegal to feed the birds to try to reduce the bird population.
Post Edit: Venice Security officials are on the lookout for tourists who attract pigeons - with food - and could come up with anything from a verbal warning to a €700 fine, for the violator. The huge fines have been effective in discouraging the people from feeding the birds. The ban on feeding the pigeons was forced in 2008.
The Maltese Falcon
We had walked down to the where the private yachts tie up (along the Saint Mark's Basilica) and discovered that the "Maltese Falcon" was there. It is famous due to it being one of the first computer controlled sailing vessels in the world. The Captain tells the computer system what he wants the sails to do, and everything is done by remote controls & sensors.
The Maltese Falcon is a full-rigged ship using DynaRig technology, which was built by Perini Navi in Tuzla, İstanbul, and was commissioned by her first owner, Tom Perkins. The ship has won a number of awards, and has an interesting story about how it was built. To read the full story Click here
As we walked about the city, we were able to see various aspects of life there that have to be seen to fully comprehend. Take a look at our Venice Image Gallery to see all of our other images.
Above image property of Ashley S. via Yelp
Gardaland is an amusement park located in northeastern Italy. Opened 19 July 1975, the resort includes Gardaland Park, Gardaland Sea-Life, and the Gardaland Hotel. It is adjacent to Lake Garda, but does not actually face the water. The entire complex covers an area of 445,000 m2 (4,789,940 sq ft), while the theme park alone measures 200,000 m2 (2,152,782 sq ft). Sporting both traditional attractions and entertainment shows, it attracts nearly 3 million visitors every year.
Gardaland Amusement Park
We surprised our children by declaring one day in Venice a "fun day" and we took them by train (we had turned in our rental car in Florence) to Gardaland from Venice. This is an easy train ride from Venice, and it is adjacent to Lago di Garda.
Word of caution here though; you need to be able to translate the Park signs from Italian to English, otherwise you will have no idea of what the ride is about, etc.
Gardaland has a total of 32 rides, including seven roller coasters and three water rides. The following are some of the rides we enjoyed.
Lido Beach Day
We caught one of the Venice Vaporettos ("water taxis" - there are numerous stops all along the Grand Canal) and headed over to Lido di Venezia for a day at the beach.
Lido is a 11 kilometer long and narrow barrier island which gets wider in its northern tract. At least half the seaward coast has sandy beaches. Much of the beach at the town of Lido belongs to various hotels. There are large public beaches towards the northern and southern ends.
The Lido is Venice’s relaxed seaside resort. In winter, this thin strip of land has a quiet, workaday vibe, while the population swells in summer, with visitors and day trippers relaxing on the beach and children playing in the shallow water.
Lido is home to the Venice Film Festival - an annual festival that aims to raise awareness and promote international cinema in all its forms as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and dialogue. For more information click here to go to their Website.
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