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(Old) Mask of V Day Seven: Venice

(Originally posted on January 8, 2011)

Ah! Venice.

Day Seven: Venice

Venice! Venice wasn’t on the original plan, but all the kids really, really wanted to see it. So we decided to push back our original fly-back-on-Tuesday plan in favor of a day in Venice.

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The view of Venice from our water taxi! Picture taken by me.

We took a water taxi over. It functions basically like a bus or metro—you hop on and off and it goes to various stops. We headed for St. Mark’s Square originally, and hunted down a yummy pizzeria on our way. St. Mark’s was actually much less crowded than we had been lead to believe, but that was probably because it was freezing out.

One thing Venice is famous for is its glass blowing masters. Rick Steve, our ever-present guide in book form, recommended we either go to Murano or a small shop off the main drive at St. Mark’s. We opted to go to the shop because of time constraints. You go in, and the first room has some choice, beautiful glasswork. We showed the man at the front our Rick Steve book, and then were escorted back to another building where we could see the master at work. Let me tell you, this fellow put the Jamestown glassblowers to shame. He made a beautiful, deep blue vase in front of us, which took him all of fifteen minutes. Then we were taken into another room, where a salesman demonstrated the different wares they make and explained how they were made (while trying to sell them to us, of course). There were these lovely little cups that when pushed over would just rock back up-right, but the price was too steep for us. All of it was handmade there in Venice, and quite nice. We walked through their other rooms, filled with their wares (from jewelry to chandeliers to sculptures). Having seen it all, we managed to escape without purchasing anything.

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View from the Rialto Bridge. Picture taken by me.

From there, we found the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. There was graffiti on the bridge, which was disappointing, but it was nice to stand and look down at the gondoliers and bustling waterways of the city. We continued from there toward a church we wanted to visit (Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari), and inevitably got hopelessly lost.

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One of the streets. Picture taken by me.

Philip found a candy shop and went in while Laura and I popped into a mask shop down the street. Inside, there was a mask maker painting one of his masks. I eyed a little fox mask that looked like one from Zelda: The Mask of Majora, but I didn’t end up buying it. Laura found a really beautiful green mask and purchased that one (more on that later). It was really cool because the guy who had painted them was right there and very friendly.

We had officially split up with Dad and Philip, who took one walkie talkie and continued towards Frari. We followed at a slower pace, hopping into mask shops along the way. Laura bought a blank mask that she can paint when she gets home, as well as a handful of other masks. She bought a lot of masks in all. On one of our lost routes we bumped into another set of Americans, and they gave us one of their maps, which was quite friendly.

When we caught up with Dad and Philip (a great deal later), they were at the wrong church. After glancing in that one, we set out to find Santa Maria Gloriosa Dei Frari again (it had some particular frescos that sounded cool). I stopped in a glass store and bought a Murano glass pin and earrings. The pin is quite pretty, especially with the super cheap, huge scarf I bought in Sienna.

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Me in front of the Grand Canal. Picture taken by me.

We continued in our quest for the church, and eventually found it. The frescos were quite nice, and there were some interesting relics to look at as well (including a tooth and a hand in a jar (yes, there were some Doctor Who jokes)). There was a huge sculpture of black men as pillars holding up what appeared to be the Pope, which I dubbed The Church’s Triumph on the Backs of Slaves—which, according to my five minutes of Google research, is actually a pretty accurate description.

We left the church and searched long and hard for a café wherein to drink hot drinks. Eventually we found one tucked away against a square, and we got to sit in the little attic with a very low roof. It was very quaint and quiet, and sort of had a Hobbit-hole feel. I would also like to note that everyone else in the café was in couples and most of them were necking. But the tea was yummy.

From here we leisurely made our way back to the water taxi. I dropped into another mask shop that had leather masks (which I have been looking for as story research (plus I think they’re cool)). I found a neat black leather one, and after fighting with myself over the price (30€) decided to get it. This was another shop where they were making the masks right in front of you, and the fellow acting as the salesman was very friendly. I watched him wrap it up, and was very impressed by how carefully he did it. When I went to hand him my two 20€ bills, he grinned and just took one. I <3 him.

We took the long taxi down the Grand Canal, admiring the beauty of Venice at night on our way. Here’s my attempt to describe it in one sentence: I think it’s perfectly romantic, with huge old buildings and warm yellow light seeping through curtains, and balconies overlooking the dark water below. If at all possible, I think I would very much like to honeymoon there.

We switched taxis and went back to the parking lot. There was a short drive back to our town, where we ate and then went to bed. A good day, overall.

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