Archive for the ‘Venice’ Category

A Review of 2017   18 comments

I’ve read quite a few blog post in the past few days reviewing other peoples 2017 exploits. I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d do the same. Good excuse to look back through my photos and remember what we got up to. At my age I need help remembering stuff!.

Acutely conscious of the modern trend for these awful “round robin” letters you get at Xmas (we get one of these smugograms every year) I tried to select photos that bring back a particular memory for me so its more a personal, family introspection on outdoorsy stuff, than a blow by blow account of the year. As its based on my photo collection if I didn’t photograph it, it ain’t here!


We started the year off in Tenerife and New Years Day was spent on this rather splendid beach (the earlier part of the day was in the mountains but I cocked up the photos from that part of the day!)


Returning to the British winter, a walk along the Cats Back in the Black Mountains with TBF, memorable for a cloud inversion after a very wet morning. A reminder that despite our travels we are lucky to have some stunning scenery on our doorstep


A solo day out in the Brecon Beacons, the first snowy walk near to home and pretty much the only one with significant snow during the early part of the year (made up for it at the end)


A glorious day out in the Black Mountains with TJS and a cooked breakfast on a cold Table Mountain. I like this photo though as it has Mynydd Troed in centre shot, my very first mountain climbed when I was about 10


And my usual skiing trip (only a weekend this year) to finish off the month. Snow was a bit rubbish but we had a laugh nonetheless



Another solo day on Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons. I remember this day for a very mild Friday afternoon (16C) and snow in the mountains 18 hours later


A short walk with TBF on Hatterall Hill



The first weekend of the month is always spent in Scotland with friends of long standing. A new location at Bridge of Orchy and a two out of three days were magnificent winter days. The walk along this ridge high above Rannoch Moor on the first day was superb


Me and TJS also managed a cheeky backpack into the Black Mountains. Straight from work on the Friday for a one nighter in my new tent. Need to do more of these this year


2017 is the year I rediscovered cycling – mainly to help my knee and also to be less of a lazy layabout during the week. The Hardman – a VERY keen and VERY fit cyclist caught wind and insisted we meet up in the Peak for a trip along a couple of the old railway trails. A cracking sunny day and I survived cycling with the Hardman!


And we finally managed a meet up in the Berwyns with Uncle Fester after a few aborted attempts



More cycling and solo trip through the Brecon Beacons on the “Gap” route. Cycling to over 600m was a first for me and I started to feel that I almost, might, actually enjoy cycling.


Easter and a major backpacking trip with TJS to the Cairngorms. The weather was wild and windy but we had a couple of superb wild camps and TJS bagged his first Scottish 4000 footer


I even coaxed TJF out for a bike ride along the Brecon and Usk canal


May Day weekend was mostly in April. Mixed weather but we had a fine gaggle of friends on a hike around Greendale, taking in Buckbarrow and Seatallan



No finer way to celebrate a birthday than a lunchtime hike. This one was on one of my local hills, Bryn Arw with TBF


Followed by a weekend away in Cornwall. It almost felt tropical on the white sands just north of Padstow on one of our walks


Whitsun weekend was spent with our good friends in Silverdale. The Sunday was a real winner with a long but easy stroll and a fantastic pub lunch. Weather was mixed the rest of the time but great company, many laughs and a chance to relax



A different walk from the usual mountains. One of the small hills that overlook Gloucester and across to the Cotswolds. Not something I’d do every day but a nice change


One of the highlights of the year was the long-planned backpacking trip with the kids into the Howgills. Despite poor weather we gave it a go and it was a huge success. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and I’m hoping they have caught the wild camping bug



After the backpack trip I was out of action for a few weeks recuperating and resting after a minor knee op. Didn’t affect my water based fun though, a nice albeit far too long trip down the river Wye


By the end of July I was back in the hills again (the knee op has been a great success I’m pleased to say). A fine evening stroll with TBF and TJS on Ysgyryd Fawr (we even took a cheeky cold beer to drink on the top)


Another “local walk for local people” – this time Garway Hill where we reached the top, saw this nasty storm approaching and raced it back to the car. We won.


Late July brings the annual camping trip to Towyn Farm on the Llyn Peninsula. We packed in lots of walks and beach fun in a very mixed few days of weather. My abiding memory though was this game of Kubb which was huge fun with both adults and kids alike taking it far too seriously and larking about in equal measure. A happy afternoon



The big family trip of the year, a rail trip around some of Europe’s finest cities. An real change from our usual outdoor camping trips and it was real success. We all took took to the city life rather well you might say. One of my best ever holidays. A few photos that made me smile

One of the many fountains in Paris (we called this one the fountain of throttled fish)


A monster thunderstorm in Turin


My favourite seafront walk in Venice


The Colloseum in Rome – of course


Schloss Belvedere in Vienna (courtesy of an unplanned extra couple of hours from a very late train)


The thermal baths in Budapest – “like taking a bath in a wedding cake”


A stroll along the Spree river in Berlin on a sunny Sunday afternoon


And the railway bridge over the Rhine in Cologne



Back to earth with a bump. A few days after the heat and sun of Europe we were walking in the Black Mountains in driving rain and cold winds!


But there was still enough warm weather left for a round of the hills near the Talybont Reservoir in the Brecon Beacons



A walk with friends in the Roaches on the dreariest day of the year (when everywhere else was sunny – I’m not bitter)


More evidence of my new found cycling passion (probably too strong a word). A ride around the tracks of the New Forest while TJS took a look around Southampton University


And why settle for one trip to see major cities when you can do it twice. As a special treat for TJS 18th Birthday we spent a week in Barcelona. Probably my favourite city but despite all its famous sights, this little known hill and its view overlooking the city was my favourite spot



After sunshine comes the reality of winter. A couple of cold but beautiful days. One in the Black Mountains on the Sugar Loaf and Crug Mawr


And one of my favourite walks in the Black Mountain


A delayed birthday treat weekend for TBF saw us in Padstow for a couple of nice meals and walks along the Cornish coast and Dartmoor



And last into the proper depths of winter. The first snows saw me and TJS head into the highest peaks of the Black Mountains


The day after saw the biggest dump of snow I’ve seen in my own backyard for many a year. Walks around my village in deep snow under crisp blue skies were wonderful


The start of the Xmas holidays is marked with an annual get together of my University friends and their families. Always great fun but this year we could climb the hills in snow (rather than wet rain) and play at snowballs


Finally coming full circle with a return to the Canary Islands to spend Xmas in Lanzarote and Xmas Day sunning ourselves on the beach


Well I enjoyed looking through my photos, choosing a few and reliving a great year. Hope you enjoyed it too. All the best for 2018 🙂

Venice – Dorsoduro and final wanderings   14 comments


On our last day we made a plan to head for one of the districts we hadn’t been to, the Dorsoduro on the SW side of the city.


The plan was to walk a different way to Piazza San Marco, take a boat along the Grand Canal to the Station and then wander into Dorsoduro from there and grab some lunch


We found some new streets, churches and canals



And some old favourites like the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo



We tried hard, really hard to come out on the waterfront down from Piazza San Marco. Despite best efforts (and some new and lovely vistas) we failed




We turned a corner crossed a bridge and there was the Bridge of Sighs and we entered the Piazza from the direction we always did


Our old friends the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore


And the Palazzo Ducale and Campanile Bell Tower



The boat ride along the Grand Canal (in the previous post) was great but too crowded so we hopped off at the Rialto and walked from there. The first few hundred yards were rammed with people as its on the main drag to the station. As always one turn away from that street and we were in uncrowded piazzas and pretty streets




The walking was as wonderful as ever



We came out on the Fondamenta Rezzonico and the Campo San Barnaba. It was wonderful. Quiet but with an air of a more “real” neighbourhood. When I was looking for an apartment I found one overlooking this canal. The area is a bit less handy for getting about and the apartment didn’t have a balcony but I could happily have stayed here


Time for another excellent pasta lunch (I think it was the Dallo Zio). I decided to try the local drink an Aperol Spritz (Prosecco, Campari and sparkling water – very nice)


The restaurant is on the Campo Santo Margherita, busy with students in term time but wonderfully quiet in summer


A view back towards the Campo San Barnaba and its church


The area narrows to a point between the Grand Canal and the southern waterfront the Fondamente Zaterre. It’s a fabulous stroll. A broad walkway facing across the water to the island of Guidecca, backed by villas, restaurants and churches. It was my favourite walk in Venice


Lots of side canals leading back into the heart of Dorsoduro


Fine views across the lagoon to Guidecca and the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore



As the headland narrows you can glimpse the Grand Canal on the other side



The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute sits at the end. On our way through we passed a group of buskers. I say buskers but they were playing classical string music and they were note perfect, just superb. We sat for for a few minutes on the steps listening to them play. It was wonderful


There was a gallery with a display of David Hockney sculptures right on the tip of the promontory. This sculpture was outside but I’m not sure if its one of his. It was rather good if a little weird



We needed a rest and sat down on the banks of the canal and paddled our feet in the water. When I first visited Venice as a teenager one of the abiding memories was the smell and rather unhealthy look of the water (and the pigeons that were everywhere). There is no way I would have put my feet in the water. They must have made some strenuous efforts because even in the height of summer there was no smell and the water looked clean and healthy barring an inevitable few items of rubbish. It felt totally natural to have a paddle. We sat here for a few minutes enjoying the shade and the cool water while looking across the canal to the Piazza San Marco. The hour we spent walking along the water front, listening to music and sitting by the water were one of my favourite memories not only of Venice but of the whole holiday




It was a pretty damn fine day, finished off with another evening stroll around San Marco and out to the Pont dell’Accademia and Rialto Bridges for a last long lingering look at this amazing city








One last meal on the terrace and the next morning we had to pack and head of for our next city. We had a few hours to kill the next morning before our train. We chilled out in a shady square before heading to the station


A couple of photos from the Ponte degli Scalzi outside the station


The train station itself


And a last lingering look at the Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo from the station steps before we bid our farewell


I changed my mind about which was my favourite city all throughout the trip and again now I’m writing up the blog posts. In revisiting Venice and especially this last post I’m starting to think again that there is just something extra special here. No doubt I’ll change my opinion again but for now at least its back at the top of the charts

Venice – The Grand Canal   22 comments

The main water artery through the city and we hadn’t seen it other than a brief view from the Rialto and Accademia bridges and outside the train station in the rain. After our beach day we headed back out for an evening meal via Piazza San Marco and a Vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal. The museum of the Punta della Dogana that marks the start of the Grand Canal.


Setting sun over the houses and palazzos


And the now familiar Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


Seen here from under the Ponte dell’Accademia


An interesting sculpture called – actually I have no idea! There were lots of sculptures lining the canal



It was late in the evening and the light was a little dim for decent photography. Some nice sunset skies though


One of the many palazzos along the canal


And the classic view of the Rialto bridge


Day fades into night



We hopped off just beyond the Rialto as it was getting pretty dark. I liked these hands!


Last lingering sunset shots before we headed off for another fine Italian meal. They do pasta really well in Italy (unsurprisingly!) I learned that the pasta should be the star and not the sauce necessarily. Every pasta meal just had enough sauce to coat the pasta rather piled on. Every pasta was cooked to perfection and delicious. I think the meal tonight was at the Al Vecio Bragosso Osteria but I can’t be sure



After the meal we took in our nightly gluttony of gelato from Grom and ate it by the hands


Next morning I got a bit lost on my breakfast stroll and ended up surprisingly on the Rialto.



As I admired the peaceful early morning view a Vaporetto pulled up and I instinctively jumped on


The Grand Canal was even better in the morning. Crystal clear blue skies and an empty boat. Just perfect



The Grand Canal was prime water front property in the glory days of the city. The finest merchants and members of society would all have their houses fronting the canal. Only way to see it is by boat as there is no water front walkway


Every house seems uniquely designed and built, no two the same. It’s a visual treat and its hard to know where to look. My one regret is that I didn’t find time to take a trip along and back the full length from San Marco to the station with a map and audio guide.


It’s a mesmerizing trip and well worth seeing at first light before the boats get too crowded. In fact when I return I plan to head up and down at various times of day to really get to grips with it


Ponte dell’Accademia



Sun coming up over the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


Ponte dell’Accademia


And more shots of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. It looked particularly gleaming in the morning sun



After breakfast we headed out for another city walk and decided to get there with another boat ride along the canal. The boat was much busier, so busy in fact we didn’t stay on as long as we wanted. The canal was much busier though with loads of taxi boats and delivery barges. Fascinating to watch the city at work on water


Gondolas earning their 80 Euros!


Views looking back left and right to San Marco and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



And back under the Ponte dell’Accademia




It was an especially clear and sunny morning and the Palazzos were sunning themselves to great effect




Turning the corner the Rialto comes into view


A little video that sets the scene a little better than photos


I should have taken more video. Most of my other small cameras have always taken pretty poor video so I don’t take much. My new camera takes excellent video so it was a bit of shame I didn’t use it more.

And a final shot just before the crowds forced us to return to foot transport


Just one more post from Venice before me move on to cities new


Venice – A Day on the Beach   12 comments


Enough of this city wandering, we needed some quality beach time! Yes, among its other treasures Venice also has beaches and they are but a short boat ride and walk away


With bags packed with towels and beach rugs we were off on the Vaporetto to the Lido, the island that separates Venice from the Adriatic. As always the boat ride was a delight.


A 10 minute walk across the island and you’re on the beach


The water is shallow and warm, perfect for families and there were many of them but not even close to the ridiculous overcrowding you see on French Med beaches


We enjoyed a very splendid morning in the sea and sunbathing on the sand. Rather strangely most of the beach is for private use (at least in so much as you are compelled to pay a fee for sub-lounger and a parasol) but there are a couple of public beaches


It made a nice change from our city wanderings and even TJS who is not much a of beach person enjoyed the escape


Sitting on a beach for a couple of hours is hungry and more importantly thirsty work. We decided we needed a large beer and we certainly got one!


Our Vaporetto tickets also covered the buses on the Lido so we decided to take a ride.


We stopped off at Malamocco as my guide book said it was nice. It had a very pleasant waterfront facing the lagoon


And indeed it was a very nice place for a wander in a sleepy sort of way





However there wasn’t much shade and it was brutally hot so we decided to hit the beach again


We hopped on to another bus and headed down the Alberoni beach, the other of the public beaches


We spent another happy hour swimming and sunbathing




I won’t pretend that these were the finest beaches I’ve ever been to. Venice is surrounded by industry and commercial ports which you can see in the distance. However the beaches were clean and the sea was refreshing and cool


It made a real change and it was fun being able to get from the heart of a city to the beach in less than an hour. Not to mention you get there by boat


We were surprised to find that the whole day had gone so we caught a bus and the Vaporetto back to the main island.




TBF looking pensive


The boat ride in the late afternoon was as enjoyable as always


We headed out after a short break. Despite the fact we’d eaten out a lunchtime I was in a good mood and said we’d eat out again in the evening. We headed back down to Piazza San Marco to see the evening sun on the buildings (photos in an earlier post) but the walk down was just as enjoyable



While we were in the square it occurred that even having been here four days we hadn’t taken in the city’s main artery, the Grand Canal. Time to put that right…..

Posted September 17, 2017 by surfnslide in Cities, Venice

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Venice – Murano and around the Lagoon   12 comments


Onwards from Burano and on to Murano


Venice is famous for its blown glass and there are shops everywhere. Some of it fabulous some of it terrible some of it plain weird. Murano is where the vast majority of the glass is made.


We managed to find a demonstration but after peering through the door for a couple of minutes we were told we had to pay. I thought that was a bit cheeky. Most similar places let you watch or tour for free and hope to make their money from sales. Considering the fee and the fact that obviously making glass needs a furnace we decided to stay outside in the natural furnace


Murano is very pleasant and quiet place to wander about. The main street/canal was catching the sun very fetchingly. The number of glass shops was astounding, 75% was my estimate. Very useful if you wanted to buy glass but we wanted a Gelato!



In searching for a Gelato seller (first time and only time it took longer than a couple minutes to find one in Italy) we cam e across this very vivid glass sculpture the Cometa di Vetro



Eventually we procured our Gelato and sat by the canal to scoff it



Whilst Murano is very nice, it doesn’t have the grandeur of the main island or the colourful charm of Burano so we decided another boat trip was in order.


We’d done a fair bit of walking over the first week of the trip so a bit more leisure was well earned


We decided to taker a longer ride around the outside of the main island to get a different feel for the city


Boat travel was really enjoyable as most are small so you feel in touch with the water as it were. The boats stop very regularly and its a slow ride so plenty of time to take in the views


A short video here to give a feel for things



As there is a causeway linking Venice to the mainland, the outside circular service have to head inside for a short while. This is one of the larger canals with what looks like a fine walkway that we never found time to wander along


Non motorised transport


And along the far reaches of the Grand Canal past the railway station


The Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo, a prominant site with its copper green roof and the first building that catches the eye on the way into Venice from the railway station or the car parks


The Ponte della Costituzione, one of only four bridges over the Grand Canal. Known locally as the Calatrava bridge (after the architect who designed it) it was the first new bridge in Venice for over 120 years. It links the city to the car parks and cruise ship terminals


We got a close up look at a couple of the cruise ships and an enormous private yacht


The boat carried on around the southern side of the city between the Dorsoduro district and the island of Guidecca


The Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario


The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and San Marco Bell Tower


Close ups of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



And the San Marco Bell Tower



The only problem with the Vaporetto is they are built for transporting people rather than sightseeing. Most of the seating is inside so if you want to enjoy the view you have to stand on deck. No problem with that but as the boats move slowly and stop often, after a while the feet get tired and you need a break. We decided to stop off for a wander and a drink. We took a stroll from San Marco along the Riva Degli Schiavone

The waterfront walks in Venice are some of its finest. This one running east from the Piazza is rather busy at first but as with all things Venice once you wander more than a few minutes from popular sites its quiet. We found a splendid spot for a sit down


The views across the water in the afternoon sun were mighty fine


Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore


Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I seem to have taken a lot of photos of this church. It is pretty striking and dominates the view from San Marco and the Grand Canal


As we wandered along the waterfront one of the huge cruise ships sailed past. You can see from this photo just how huge these monsters are. I think they are the reason why the cities on their route (in our case Venice and Rome) were so crowded. I’m not sure how many people they hold but it must be thousands. They disgorge their masses that hit the city like a tidal wave in the morning, swamping the city through to till late afternoon with tour groups. Its the tour groups that were the biggest frustration fir us. If you get caught up in one it’s like you’ve been swallowed by the crowd. I half expected to get caught up in a tidal movement of people and suddenly find myself on a ship heading for Dubrovnik or Split! The locals are not too keen on them as they swamp the city but only stay a few hours spending a good chunk of their subsistence money on board the ship rather than in the city in restaurants and in hotels and the like. Not my sort of thing but they are big business now and do give an opportunity to see places like Venice to those who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I had no idea how many of these ships were cruising the Med. There were a couple in the city every day we were there


There is a lovely park at the far end of the water front in the Castello district


As we sat enjoying the sunshine another cruise ship sailed past. Pretty impressive to see them so close up



We were actually a along way from the apartment. Nice thing about Venice is you are never too far away from a Vaporetto stop and there will be a boat going somewhere near where you want to go.


This one took us back to the waterfront a few yards from the apartment. Sorted


A fine day on the water and the islands. What better way to finish than with a cracking meal on the waterfront at the Ristorante Pizzeria Da Alvise


We hadn’t quite sussed out the subleties of Italian menus at this stage. We thought that “Primi” were small courses and “Secondi” large courses. Turns out both are big, the former is pasta, the latter meat or fish based.


TJS made the mistake of ordering both. At least they knew what a messy eater he was and dressed him accordingly 🙂


It was a superb meal. Excellent day with loads packed in

Venice – Burano Island   18 comments


Considering Venice is famous for its canals and waterways we’d been here a couple of days and only been on one boat ride. Time to correct that with a trip to some of the outlying islands. First a few photos from my now regular morning walk to pick up breakfast


It was surprising how quickly these cities became to feel like home. Most of our holidays are spent either on campsites or villas in the countryside so there is no local neighbourhood as such. I did most of the shopping and was also the only one of us who got up early enough for a walk before breakfast like this morning.


As I wandered about, streets (and canals and bridges) became familiar. You start to know that the bakery is just around this corner or the supermarket is the other side of that square. It started to feel like home. I loved that.



This wander was pretty aimless as I remember. I was just enjoying being out while the streets were quiet. listening to the sound of church bells and motor boats on the canals



I eventually turned a corner and found myself in the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. On one side was the Scuola Grande di San Marco.


On the other the massive Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo. When looking at these massive buildings the thought occurred as to their foundations. Considering that Venice is effectively a sand bar its amazing these buildings don’t just sink. They are marvel of engineering if you ask me.


I popped my head inside and found it to be as dazzling on the inside as it was massive on the outside


Back to the main arc of this post story. I mentioned Venice’s water buses or Vaporetto in a previous post. I was about to say they were expensive at £15 a day per person for unlimited use, but actually that’s not bad. They must be expensive to maintain and they run very frequently to all corners of the city and outlying islands and you can use the pass on the buses on the Lido island. Not bad value looking at it that way and we used them extensively for the rest of the trip


We were headed to the northern island of Burano. Passing by the Cemetery island of San Michele. Igor Stravinsky is buried on there among others.



The boat called at Murano (coming in a later post) before heading out across the lagoon


Views back to San Marco on the main island


Boat is a marvellous way to get around, relaxing and with largely expansive views. Apart from the Grand canal most of the boats always had plenty of space and seats although I always stood up to take in the views



Burano is famous for its brightly coloured houses. I read somewhere that its a deliberate ploy to attract visitors and that even the washing hung up is planned to be multicoloured to keep up the impression.




It was temporarily overcast and a bit dull when we arrived but by the time we needed feeding the blue skies had returned and the colours were brought back to life


It has a a maze of streets and canals to explore and while popular is relatively quiet and un-crowded


We found a pleasant shady wall next to a canal to sit and eat our lunch from a local sandwich shop.



Refreshed we took a further wander to sample the colours in the sunshine


The church does lean rather alarmingly by the way – not a lack level horizon that normally plagues my photos



Its a bit twee but still rather lovely and the quiet streets and the boat ride to reach it made for a very enjoyable outing




Even dark purple seems to work in Burano


We had a few minutes to spare before the next boat so we took a wander over the bridge to the neighbouring island of Mazzorbo. Primarily just because we could and to bag another island. It was even quieter than Burano, almost sleepy


We thought 5 minutes was enough to do it full justice and went back to catch the boat


Leaving Burano behind we headed of to bag another island



Venice – Palazzo Ducale & San Marco Campanile Bell Tower   14 comments

As you saw from previous posts Piazza San Marco has lots to offer and two of it sights deserved their own post.

The Palazzo Ducale. It was the seat of Venice’s government for seven centuries but was gutted by fire in 1577 and restored with white Istrian stone and Veronese pink marble.


It served not only as a form of parliament but also as a prison, executioners block and grand palace of the Doge, the elected head of state.


It was also the home of the feared Council of Ten who preserved Venice’s democracy through their network of informers and spies


In some respects it can seem rather plain from the outside especially compared to the Basilica next door. In many other ways its stunning and understated while retaining an air of grandeur and awe that I imagine kept the mortal folk in awe.


It’s on a tour of the interior that both its dark and shady secrets and its palatial opulence are revealed.


We took a guided “Secret Passages” tour which I’d read was excellent and so it was. The tour not only gave an insight into the dark and mysterious world of the council of ten (their offices, secret doorways, torture rooms and the like) but also a very useful background history of Venice itself. I was fascinated by the details of Venice’s democracy and for the times, it was quite advanced, almost civilised (even it did still favour those with money or power). It would be a history essay in itself to give that background but safe to say its well worth some research and background reading. One of the famous stories is that Casanova was imprisoned here and was reputedly the only man ever to escape the prisons. The tour was fascinating although taking pictures in these dark places was nigh on impossible. Safe to say if you are in Venice I strongly recommend paying the extra to take the tour of this fascinating building


Once we were done with the secret passages tour we were free to rejoin the masses and explore the rest of the palace. The artwork is simply staggering and there are works of art by many a famous artist such as Tintoretto and Titian adorning the walls and especially the ceilings.


It’s very hard to capture this in a photo but hopefully mine give a sense of the grandeur



This room was the court room where the council of ten sat and pronounced judgement and punishment. The last wooden panel on the right is actually a secret door back into the Council of Ten rooms we’d been through earlier


More lavish artwork



As we climbed to the second floor there were windows with views out over the city and the water front



And over the water to the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Lido


The most stunning room was the Sala del Maggior Consiglio or Grand Council Hall


It was absolutely enormous and decorated from floor to and on the ceilings with stunning art work


Many of these works of art are considered propaganda paintings depicting prominent Venetians in historical or biblical settings. The painting at the far end in the photo below is Paradise by Tintoretto’s son Domenico depicting 500 Venetian politicians in heaven! Talk about blowing your own celestial trumpet 🙂



As Venice grew so did its criminal population. The palaces cells could no longer cope and new prison was built next door. To reach the prison you cross the famous Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). When I was young I always thought it was the Bridge of Size, an enormous construction spanning the city. Like most people I was surprised at its true meaning and size (and spelling), so-called, to mark prisoners feelings as they walk to their cells having been convicted. This is photo looking inwards towards the city from one side


And the cramped passageways around the prisons


The prison courtyard


And the view seawards from the bridge. You can see the crowds gathering to take photographs.


It’s a very small, not especially dramatic bridge so I’m not quite sure why it gets so much attention. Still, I’m glad I saw it and walked across it – twice!


It was a full half day in the palace. If you were a real fine art buff it would take a lot longer. We were well pleased with our visit but you can have too many prison cells and paintings especially when its lunchtime so we took our leave of the palace and the Basilica next door (with another secret passage so the Doge could worship in peace) and went home for lunch


Later in the day we went up the Campanile Bell Tower for an aerial view of the city. This was well worth booking in advance as the queue was long and slow-moving. We just went round to a back door, waited a couple of minutes and went up in the lift


The view was grand and everything you’d expect. Expansive squares, red-tiled roofs, water and churches


The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



The Isle of San Giorgio Maggiore. You can visit the island and climb the church tower but to my regret we never found time. The views of the Piazza San Marco are supposed to be the best in the city


A Panorama shot looking over the island to the lagoon and Lido beyond (larger version if you click on it)


Along the waterfront to the Castello district


West over the Basilica di San Marco to the Canareggio district.


The Basilica and Palazzo Ducale


North west over San Marco to Canareggio. Our apartment is in there somewhere. We walked through those buildings to reach the Piazza. One thing that strikes you up here is just how densely packed the buildings are. It’s almost impossible to make out streets or canals. No surprise how easy it is to get lost


North towards the Sa Polo area and entrance to the city. You can just make out the causeway to the mainland


Family pose


The mechanical clock tower and the Piazza directly below


And one final shot of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


As we reluctantly headed down the sun was lighting up the tower to great effect


A fine finish to a storming first full day in Venice. We packed a lot in and it still seems amazing that it was all about 15 mins walk from our little home


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