We pushed so hard on our first day in Venice that our second day took us a lot longer to get going. Starting a trip like this comes with so many expectations and sometimes it takes awhile, even for people who love each other, to figure out each other’s expectations and to learn how to travel in a way that works for all involved. After much rest and our slow start, we took our shuttle into Venice and set out to find I Frari, one of the grandest basilicas in Venice.
Finding our Way to the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari
I found the endless variety of designs, colors, texture and styles of architecture in Venice mesmerizing. It was hard for a guy who loves photography not to take photos of everything. Venice is one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever witnessed.
The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or I Frari as it is often called, is one of the great basilicas in the city of Venice. Roaming it’s walls, taking in the exquisite art, admiring the woodwork and gazing up through magnificent pillars at a rustic ceiling are all enough to take one’s breath away. I Frari is a must-see when in Venice.
A Master Bookbinder at Work
I love books crafted by artisans so when I learned about Paolo Olbi, I knew that we needed to pay his shop a visit. Paolo emanates love for his work as he crafts his books with a grin. Wandering around his shop, we admired his work but kept being drawn back toward his latest creation taking shape in his hands. He paid no attention to the fact that I was taking pictures of him and as we walked out the door, I looked in the window and caught one more glimpse of this master craftsman at work. Paolo Olbi’s evident love for his work inspired me.
Walking Along the Water and Crossing the Grand Canal
One of my favorite foods to pick up in Italy is a calzone. You can find them everywhere and they are freshly made and delicious. We picked up our calzones to go at Pizza al Taglio in La Toletta.
Walking across a bridge over the Grand Canal is breathtaking. The scene is constantly shifting with the many boats and gondolas that pass by. Crossing the bridge from Dorsodura back to San Marco offered us this wonderful view over the end of the Grand Canal and looking back, this is one of my favorite scenes from our time in Venice.
Venice From the Bell Tower
Campanile di San Marco is the bell tower for St. Mark’s basilica. It’s not easy to tell the connection at first because it is much taller than the basilica and not directly attached. For €8 you can ride an elevator to the top of the campanile and experience these extraordinary views over all of Venice. I loved experiencing the view from above the old city of Venice.
Piazza San Marco is a lively place with live music, outdoor seating in front of cafes and of course, the unavoidable group of guys you find in every major European city trying to sell you something. It was funny to catch a guy trying to sell Bethany a rose right in the middle of taking a picture of her in the square. They try to make it seem like they are giving you the flower and once you take it, they badger you until you pay. We loved the scene in Caffe Lavenna but the coffee was the worst that we experienced in Italy. Look but don’t buy when in Piazza San Marco because right outside of the square are much better prices for much better food.
Experiencing an Italian Opera in a Historic Venetian Palace
Bethany wanted to experience an opera while in Italy so when we looked into it we found Musica a Palazzo, an opera that takes place not in a grand hall but in the more intimate setting of one of Venice’s old palaces. The operas three movements take place in three different rooms of the palace. Experiencing La Traviata in the intimate setting of a palazzo and seated so close to the first class performers was an intimate and unforgettable experience.
Since we stayed outside of the old city, we always had to walk back to the Piazzale Roma to catch the bus back to Camping Rialto where we were staying. This extra walk made for longer evenings but it also afforded us the chance to see this old city at night. I loved the sparing use of light along Venice’s narrow streets and the reflections in the canals.