Saturday, January 12, 2013

Faraway Adventures: Venice

Last stop on our little Italian holiday was Venice (Venezia!).

The first day the weather was beautiful and my soul felt so much joy being surrounded by water.
 Getting off the train for our last bit of adventure

We spent most of the first day in the famous St. Mark's Square, touring the church, looking into all the little shops, trying to stay away from the pigeons, and just taking in Venice.  
St. Mark's Basilica, there in the background, is remarkable church. I don't know if I can do justice with words all the beautiful mosaics that cover the walls and ceiling.  No photography is allowed in the church, but just imagine beautiful mosaics with golden backgrounds telling the stories from the bible.

There are no cars or scooters in Venice and I love the calmness and quietness of it all;  walking through the maze of narrow streets, alleys and little bridges, hearing singing gondoliers in the distance, and even the quiet little sounds of the water in the canals. 

We spent our second day in Venice under a thick layer of fog that covered the city. We had planned to go out to some of the outer islands, but because of the fog, boat service was extremely limited. We decided to just hop on the water taxi (we had a day pass) and tour the Grand Canal getting on and off whenever we wanted.  It turned out to be one of my favorite days of the trip. So relaxed. So open to the unplanned and unexpected. 

Waiting for the water taxi

 Flood markers

One of my favorite unexpected moments was the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St. Mary of Health). We entered the church just as a mass was ending. We quietly sat on a little bench outside the chapel area. It was so nice to just pause and listen to the priest's words of faith (in the lovely Italian tongue) fill the space in the church. And then the congregation started to sing and it was so beautiful.   I felt tears roll down my cheeks. I have had my struggles with faith and church, but when you feel a moment of uttermost peace it is overwhelming, in an unbelievably good way. 

Note: I am sensitive about taking pictures in places of worship; photography was allowed in the church, and I waited until the mass was completely over to take out my camera. 

The church was built in the mid 1600's after Venice was hit tragically hard by a plague outbreak. Over 1/3 of the population died. It was fairly common in Italy during that time period to build churches to demonstrate righteous dedication in hopes of salvation from the plague. This church in particular was dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, who was seen as a protector of Italy. 

We  got back on the water taxi and explored some more. There are many fine places to eat in Venice, but my favorite meal was at a little place called  Trattoria Alla Basilica. It is found down an alley behind St. Mark's (in my head I still say San Marco, but in my head I tend to be a little fancy). It is a ristorante run by the church and all proceeds go back to the church and the community. It is isn't fancy food, but it was warm and hearty. There is also a little bit of warm kindness giving back to this beautiful city, even if it is just the price of carrot soup and spaghetti and meatballs. 

We thought the fog would burn off throughout the day, but it got worse. Remember the above photo of St. Mark's Square, my favorite one with the naval cadet in his cape (a cape!)? Below is a picture taken about  from the same place, at the same time, the next day. 

My mother wanted a quiet night to rest before our trip back to the States, but I just couldn't sit still in a hotel room when the whole city of Venice was alive. I talked my sister into going out for a little walk, and we got to witness the fog and streetlights setting the city a glow.

We also passed this little cafe that had a violin player serenading the night with "Let It Be," which just so happens to be my favorite Beatles' song. I took it as a little goodnight lullaby from the universe.

And FYI, Tom Waits is alive and well in Venice:

Other Italy Adventures: Rome, The Vatican, Ancient Rome, Pompeii, Florence.


  1. Isn't Italy colorful? Those first few pictures are so delicious. Look at that LIGHT!

    Oh, and the fog. Wow. You have such a way of capturing it.

    1. Thanks! Italy did all the work, gosh, it is a pretty place.