Venice – Piazza San Marco and around   10 comments

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Piazza San Marco is the heart of Venice and contains three of its most treasured and well-known sites. The Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale and the Campanile Bell Tower.

Before I take you down there for a look around a few photos from our neighbourhood in Venice. A sunrise view from the waterfront a hundred yards from the front door

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The street where we lived

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The view from the balcony

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And over the rooftops to the massive Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo on the left

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Our first day in Venice was very much a Piazza San Marco day. We spent the morning on a tour of the Palazzo Ducale (on the left here). More on that in the next post

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And this is the magnificent Basilica di San Marco. It’s a stunningly ornate and beautiful work and one of Venice’s treasured buildings.

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It’s free to visit and we paid a couple of Euros each to skip the line. You aren’t supposed to take photos so we dutifully didn’t although everyone else was. Trust me when I say its astonishing inside. A picture or two from the Interweb to give you a feel

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The amazing golden look is created by using gold leaf on thousands of tiny mosaic tiles behind a layer of fired glass. This creates the shimmering effect. It’s absolutely extraordinary and even though it only takes 10-15 mins to walk around its worth a few Euros to beat the queue or just to wait in it

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In between our visit to the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica we returned home for lunch. We took a circuitous route to take in some typical Venetian streets, canals and squares

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It’s the middle part of the day and this image proves that you don’t have to wander far or try to hard in Venice to lose the crowds. Alas I have no idea which lovely square this was

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A leisurely lunch on the patio was always welcome and enjoyable

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We went back for our Basilica visit and to climb the Campanile Bell Tower which again I’ll cover in a future post

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This is still peak time and you can tell that even though there are loads of people the square is big enough to cope without feeling too oppressive (it’s the streets leading to it from the Rialto that are really crowded). The square is surrounded by up-market coffee houses with orchestras playing music. I was tempted to sit down and enjoy a break till I saw how much they wanted for a beer.

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We decided to wait for our time slot to climb the tower by the waterfront near the gondolas. No beer or music but it was free

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We went back to the square many times such was its draw. Early evening was perfect as the crowds thinned and the sun bathed the buildings in golden light that seemed appropriate somehow

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On our first evening visit we arrived a bit late and the Basilica was half in shadow although it still looked inspiring

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Again we took in the view from the waterfront. I think this view across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its church was my favourite in Venice

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Closely followed by the view from the same spot to the eye-catching Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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I paid a visit early one morning on a very long walk and boat ride to pick up the breakfast pastries. It was quite startling to see it with no one there

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The Torre dell’Orologio with its mechanical men that chime the bell

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This photo shows really well just how quiet it was

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I enjoyed this shot, standing in the shadow of the bell tower

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With the inevitable pigeon in shot

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A morning view of the Basilica

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And the Palazzo Ducale

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We came back on our last night to try to catch the light better. Still not quite early enough to avoid a shadow on the Basilica alas.

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But the light was still amazing

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The Palazzo Ducale

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And a final close up of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore

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And the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute

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I was expecting to find the Piazza overcrowded and spoilt. But even with the crowds you can really appreciate its splendour and charm and I fell in love with it and its surrounds and water front views (as you can tell from the many visits and photos). Make the effort to come late or early and its even better. Only occurs to me now that we never saw it at night. I shall have to go back then

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10 responses to “Venice – Piazza San Marco and around

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  1. Very elaborate buildings. Amazing we have the Mongol hordes to thank for Venice existing in the first place.

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • History of Venice is fascinating, we got some insight when we did the tour around the the Palazzo Ducale. Interesting mix of a democracy of sorts and East German style secret police!

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  2. That Basilica is amazing!

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  3. Wow! utterly wonderful!

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    Brenda-Dawn Linney
    • Its a beautiful city, I doubt there is any city in Europe, possibly anywhere that has such a collection of treasured buildings in such a small space. Once you learn how to lose the crowds its a cracking place to get lost in – literally!

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  4. I can see from your photos just what all the fuss is about – no wonder there are crowds!

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    • I’ll come to why I think Rome and Venice in particular (and probably Florence) as so much busier than everywhere else we went in a later post
      Venice is as I’ve said, totally unique and absolutely beautiful. The crowds are manageable and largely avoidable with a bit of planning. It was only walking along a few streets that had me gnashing my teeth (the walk back to the station to catch the train with a pack on being the worst)
      If you ever take another city trip with the family I’d really recommend Venice (and Budapest, coming soon). It has a real variety of stuff to do (including beaches, also coming soon and of course travelling about by boat is great fun, the kids would love it.

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  5. Just wonderful!

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