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Illuminate Venice: Day 2

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Venice on a rainy, wintry day is gorgeous—full of reflections in sidewalks and empty of fair-weather tourists. Bundled up in our raincoats and hats, Annie and I embarked for our first palace and much wandering.

February 4 – Day 2

We wanted to have breakfast at a cafe on our way to Saint Marco Piazza, but this proved a little more difficult than anticipated. We did eventually find a place, and despite some awkwardness figuring out how to order we soon were seated with coffee/tea and some delicious, vanilla-stuffed croissants. Much fuller (and happier), we made our way back to S. Marco.

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I’m told that in the summer, this square is so crowded you can hardly move. This is why Venice in winter wins at everything. Apparently the week before Carnival on a rainy day is the perfect time to go exploring.

We headed to Museo Correr and bought the museum pass (€18 for students), then went at it. Armed with our journals, we very slowly made our way through each room. (Unfortunately there was no photography allowed in any of the buildings we visited, or this post would be flooded with pictures.)

Amidst elegant rooms and under enormous glass chandeliers, we sought out the tiny details and compared observations. I’d never done a trip purely for writing research, and throughout the week it was really wonderful to have another writer with me who had an eye for the small things and a knack for description.

Museo Correr sort of melts into Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Monumental Rooms of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, so we ended up going through those as well. There were some excellent examples of illuminated manuscripts. I enjoyed spouting tidbits about the gold leaf to Annie and testing my ever-increasing knowledge of gilding. Having read a lot about the different ways to do gold in illuminated manuscripts, I can now recognize pretty easily what is gold ink, what is gold leaf, how thick it is, and (roughly) what style it’s done in.

Allow me to stare into the middle distance and look like an expert for a few minutes.

Now that I have sufficiently shown off, I’ll conclude on Museo Correr by saying that the ladies’ platform shoes (to wear over their regular shoes to keep them dry) were completely insane. One pair had a bottom (sole? Pumps?) that was literally two feet tall, if not three feet. Oh what ladies will do to protect their shoes! (However, the slippers on display had such lovely, detailed embroidery I couldn’t blame them for their caution!)

Four hours after buying our tickets, we stumbled into the museum cafe for lunch and a drink. It had a lovely view over the square but wasn’t too expensive. I’d filled up a chunk of my regular travel journal with my notes from the museum, so I stopped in the bookstore to grab a pocket-sized graph journal for future notes. Then we went on our way.

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At one point, we came across a church playing Vivaldi music and poked our heads in. Turned out that it had a (free) exhibit on the making of instruments (particularly the violin), with old old old cellos and other beautiful instruments (whose names I don’t know) on display as well.

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We wandered for a long time, peering in shop windows. Found ourselves at Ponte Dell’Accademia and stopped to look at all the locks on the bridge, which sparked a rather nerdy-yet-brilliant idea (more on that later). Ended up in the more residential area for a while, on empty silent streets filmed over in algae from floods.

A bit footsore and weary, we returned to the hotel to rest before dinner. We forced ourselves to wait until 6:30, but couldn’t manage to hold off until proper Italian dinner time. We had a pleasant meal and chatted about Illuminate’s world extensively, then retreated back to the hotel for the evening.

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