It was nearly 30 years since we had been to Venice. Last time it was the middle of winter. This time it was a heat wave. We found a campsite in a great location at Fusina, on the water’s edge and close to a ferry to Venice. Richard wanted a waterside pitch but none was available the first night. Early the second morning (we were catching the ferry at 8am) he found one and we did a quick move from under the trees (nice cool shade) to water’s edge (full sun). The campground was right beside the main shipping channel into the Port of Venice and the variety of huge ships coming past just 30m from our campsite was impressive but it was hot!
An early start and no cruise ships in Venice meant that it wasn’t too crowded. The canals were already busy.
In Venice the canals take the place of roads, so we saw traffic jams and blockages “Venice style”. Everything is transported by boat.
And of course the emergency services travel by boat too!
The first day we visited the Basilica Di San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale and spent time wandering the narrow alleys between buildings and canals. No photos allowed in the Basilica but our guide said “provided a guard doesn’t see you …”. Richard managed to get a photo or two. The glass mosaics at the entrance and in the Basilica were particularly impressive.
The paintings covering the walls and ceiling in the meeting rooms of Venice’s governing body in centuries past in the Palazzo Ducale impressed us as much as they did 30 years ago – but difficult to photograph.
We managed to lose ourselves in the narrow alleys quite successfully. But at least they were cooler and away from the main tourist areas. But we had to keep asking directions and backtracking – reminiscent of our time in the medina in Fez.
We returned back to Venice in the evening for dinner which was the most pleasant part of the day – less heat and fewer people. The water bus up the Grand Canal is a great way to take in the sights. It is lined with many palazzi and overall has an air of decaying opulence. I am sure the insides of the buildings tell a different story.
Dinner was excellent – Our table looked straight out at the canal and the gondolas going past. We had to order a water taxi to make sure we got back in time to get the last ferry – we were picked up from the dock between the red/white poles – a huge rip off at 80 euros for less than 10 minutes! Especially when I thought he said 18 – Richard, after a few too many wines, found it very amusing when I let out a strangled gasp at the price.
Venice has a surprisingly good fruit/vegetable, cheese and fish market. We have been disappointed in most of the weekly markets we have visited in Italy. Unlike in France, they seem to be more of a venue for cheap clothes. I guess there is a captive population and the “supermarkets” are tiny in Venice.
We also spent an afternoon at the island of Murano a short ferry right from the far side of Venice. It is bisected by canals like Venice and is totally built over but to a lower height than Venice. Murano is famous for its glasswork, although you have to beware of the so-called Murano glass that is in fact made in China. It was fascinating to find out about the process and watch the glass blowers at work.
We were planning on staying another day in Venice – partly so Richard could play golf at a place he could reach by ferry from Fusina (too hot for me!!) but the heat overcame his desire to play golf so we packed up quickly and headed for the mountains (finally) as the forecast was for the heat wave to continue. In the end we decided to go to Cortina d’Amprezzo in the Dolomites as it was closer to our route to Slovenia and looked reasonably accessible. Many of the mountain roads have huge numbers of hair pin bends as they wind up to and down from passes.
Next blog – Cortina d’Amprezzo