Sunday, March 30, 2008

Venezia Parte Due!

The next day I woke up, got out of the hotel and went to see Piazza San Marco in the light of day. I don't think words can express what a magical sight Venice is, the skies were bright blue, the sun was shining making all the gold on the buildings glitter and because it was not high season there were not a lot of tourists. Perfect!

The piazza originated as a small plaza in front of Basilica di San Marco in the 9th century and was later enlarged to it's current size in 1177. I went to explore the basilica, which is this amazing mix of various styles of design and architecture - Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic. I was told that when you walk in the basilica your jaw literally drops, well I can attest to that. The walls are covered in the most amazing mosaics, many of them gold, so everything just twinkles. I figured since I prayed in about every temple, Hindu and Buddhist, that I have come across in the last few months I might as well pray in a church who's faith I was actually born into. So I sat in a little chapel off the main basilica, on the the creaky wooden bench and kneeler and listened to an at least 90 year old priest give Italian mass. After mass, I walked up into the dome of the basilica where you can actually go out on to this roof terrace and take in the sights of the piazza. Really spectacular.

That morning, my aunt Helena and her friend Gertrude had driven down from Switzerland to meet up with me in Venice. It was really nice to have some company - Venice is almost too romantic a city to visit alone. Either be with a boyfriend or some friends and family but not necessarily alone. So once we met up, we went for a fantastic lunch at a lovely restaurant on the Grand Canal, next to the Rialto bridge. We basically walked for hours through the city, past technicolor bright buildings, into fantastically expensive boutiques, we went to the Basilica Frari where I was able to see the famous painting "The Assumption" by Titian. In this painting Titian developed a particular shade of red paint now known by any art student (me) as titian red. We kept walking through the city on these winding roads and alleys over these tiny bridges. We passed antique booksellers, paint pigment stores where the colors are in powder form and you just wish you could stick your fingers in the powder, the color is just that beautiful. I think over all the color and light in Venice is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, this rosy pink misty light in the morning and in the evening turns white buildings pink and just accentuates the vibrancy of the colored buildings. It is like literally wearing rose colored glasses.

We had a lovely dinner where we received free prosecco (sparkling wine) for apero and a free limoncello for the digestif or after dinner drink. Limoncello is a tart and sweet lemon liquor, served chilled and especially delicious. We visited Harry's Bar for their famous bellinis, prosecco and peach puree. Harry's Bar created the Bellini and was a favorite haunt of Hemingway. What a day!

The following day we went to the local market where we saw all the food the locals were buying for their lunch and dinner, oranges from Sicily, anchovies, artichokes, octopus and all kinds of fish. After seeing where our food came from, we went for our lunch. I had planned to go see the Guggenheim museum after lunch but I was having so much fun with Helena and Gertrude that I decided to skip it and stay with them. Instead of going to the Guggenheim I ended up purchasing a pair of ridiculously gorgeous and sexy Italian shoes, now known as my Guggenheim shoes as they are quite the work of art. Ha ha ha.

After lots of walking, talking, shopping, eating and such it was time to go home the next day. So after breakfast we drove north, stopped at a town by the Garda Lake for lunch, stopped to visit the Virgin "Rosa Mystica" in Montechiari and finally made it back to Switzerland that evening. All in all, a fantastic trip.

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