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April 4, 2006 - Tuesday - We hit the road early again today, departing Florence for a stop in Padua and then onward to Venice.  We arrived at the Hotel Ariston around 3pm. This hotel is located on the mainland in Mestre. Finding a restaurant in Mestre proves to be a challenge.  Our hotel is not conveniently located, so we have to find our way by foot under the expressway to even to find the centre of Mestre.  Finally, we find a pizzeria that serves adequate food, so we can have some supper before our big day tomorrow touring Venice.

Ponte della Liberta bridge, VeniceApril 5, 2006 - Wednesday - We leave for Venice this morning by bus under cloudy skies, cross the Ponte della Liberta bridge, and take a private water taxi to enter Venice.  We are dropped off at St. Mark's Square (Piazza San Marco), and then have an hour and a half walking tour of the Piazza, ending in a tour of the Murano glass works. Our guide then takes us through St. Mark's Basilica, and leaves us to wander Venice on our own.  We are picked up at 5pm by another private water taxi, and then transfer to our bus to return to our hotel.

Piazza San Marco & Basilica

Pigeons and people, Piazza San Marco

Piazza San Marco & Basilica, the Campanile bell tower, as viewed from the Museo Correr


Basilica di San Marco

We go up to the top of the Campanile bell tower first. Admission was 6 and the view of Venice from the top is great. We then stop for a quick lunch in the Museo Correr and the Archeological Museum. It is an amazing place, with many artefacts from Venice's past all the way back to the Napoleonic era. The history of Marco Polo was prominently profiled, however Venice has such a rich and varied past which includes many other famous people. There is a huge collection housed in these combined museums, which  could easily take a whole day to do it justice, but we move on.

Paintings and gold decorated room
Museo Correr and Museo Archeologica

Huge painting
Museo Correr and Museo Archeologica

We purchase a San Marco Pass, which allows us to walk right into the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace). This was the centre of power when Venice was an independent state. The Doge (pronounced dowj) was an all-powerful person who could make or break any Venetian citizen. Inside the Palace, we see many paintings by Tintoretto among other famous artists. The walls are literally covered with huge oil paintings, and the ceilings are decorated with tile mosaic. One room has a fresco ceiling, but Venice's damp climate damages frescos, so tile mosaics are used here instead. The Halls of Justice are also located in this palace, as well as the prison. We walked across the famous Bridge of Sighs, where convicts were taken to the prison on the other side of the canal after their judgment day.

Palazzo Ducale

Scala d'Oro, Palazzo Ducale

Scala d'Oro, Palazzo Ducale

Scala d'Oro, Palazzo Ducale

Scala d'Oro, Palazzo Ducale

The prison, Palazzo Ducale

Scala dei Giganti staircase to the Palazzo Ducale



Sights in Venice

Canal, boats, laundry, bridge

Gondola, Bridge of Sighs, Rio di Palazzo

Joe in front of canal

Masks in display windows

Canal with boats

Water taxis, water taxi stand, canal, bridge

Campanile di S. Girorgio Maggiore


bulletBackpacks are not allowed when viewing most sites in Venice, so either leave your backpack behind at your hotel, or check it at one of several cloakrooms. Camera bags and shopping bags are OK to take inside the sites.
bulletWe used the San Marco Pass, but there are several other passes available for seeing the sights of Venice.  All the guidebooks describe the passes and how they work, so do some research before you arrive in Venice.  Passes offer great value and can save you considerable time, since some permit you to walk past lineups.


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