One of the fortunate aspects of children who are studying overseas is the optimal excuse to visit them. Venice was one such adventure. As the train approaches Venice there is a magnificent view of this magical city. What is slightly alarming is the dominating presence of enormous cruise liners which float like giant amusement parks. Thankfully you quickly leave this behind and the charm of Venice supersedes this eyesore.
On this occasion we were dropping Lucy off at the University of Padua so had planned a modest trip to Venice. We stayed in the Hotel al ponte Antico. This was a Venetian house which had been restored faithfully back to its original state. All done with great baroque authenticity using Venetian textiles, fabrics and style so was highly ornate.
The owner Matteo is fantastic and gave us great advice on where to eat and what to see during our short visit. Venice is seldom a quiet destination and we were able to avoid the sea of other tourists which is quite suffocating. With our expertly planned couple of days we managed to enjoy the side streets and beautiful sites off the beaten track. A much more authentic view of this magnificent city. We had breakfast on the balcony overlooking the Grand Canal which in the early morning is incredibly busy with deliveries and contractors. We set off to St Marks Square hoping to avoid the crowds. No such luck but we had a quick look and then visited the Doge’s Palace which was positively deserted. For me the highlight of the Doge’s Palace is crossing the Bridge of Sighs and sharing the last glimpse of Venice. Overall this is an excellent museum giving the history of Venice so a good place to start.
We also managed to visit the Scoula Grande di San Rocco which was again a bit off the beaten track in San Polo and very quiet and peaceful despite housing the most incredible collection of Tintoretto frescoes (painted between 1564-1587) which cover the walls and ceilings of this impressive building. They are so prolific that as you enter the building you are given a large mirror to hold so that you can look down and view the images which are mostly painted on the high ceilings. The ground floor of this impressive building is lined with wooden carved furniture and large wooden lanterns. This is a dark baroque building and the carvings are again a dark wood carved slightly later by Giovanni Marchioni (between 1741 and 1743).