Venice (the City of Masks): The Last Morning.

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Me (again, I keep getting spoiled with having people take photos of me 🙂
Elizabeth V. and I got up in the morning to take pictures on the bridge by our hotel.)
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vaporetto/ water bus.
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I decided to take a walk and left the hotel on my own around 9 am.
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I just wandered along the Grand Canal and into little streets.
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 A bridge. To the left of it is the Grand Canal.

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Some funny grouping of shack-things.
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Venice does have gardens, although most are private and hidden behind walls. Part of a garden is visible from this back alley.
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I found some patches of graffiti. Once I had walked until I reached a blocked-off area, I turned around and walked in the opposite direction.
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 I came across all of these boats and people getting ready for a parade.
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The figure on the left is dressed in the “Medico della Peste,” outfit of the plague doctor. Doctors treating victims of the black death/plague supposedly wore masks with a long, hollow beak that were filled with sponges soaked in vinegar. The circular eye holes were covered with clear disks, and the long, black cloaks were coated in wax in an attempt to insulate against the sickness.
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Santa Maria della Salute, which is right where I was standing.
 

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This is inside — I think it was alright to take pictures because I didn’t see a sign prohibiting it, and everyone else was too. The space inside this Church is pretty cool, it’s very large.

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Standing on the steps of the basilica.
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 Cute little bridges and a Basenji. I started walking back to my hotel.

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Santa does some gondoliering on the side to bring in extra money.
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I returned to the hotel at noon after walking for 3 hours, and took a vaporetto to the train station in Venice with a few classmates. I had lunch here, and it was actually pretty good. The front part of this place is a store, but as you walk through to the back it’s sort of like a (nice) cafeteria. (If you’re facing the train station, turn to your right and follow that street until you see this on the left. It’s pretty close by)
 
 
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A chocolate. Wandering around on my own again, my classmates had to go back to the hotel to grab their luggage. I had all my things with me in my backpack.
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These guys are everywhere, in every city. They try to sell fakes and weird toys.
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A lot of these kind of random sandwich displays. I heard these things were pretty good from other people.
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Maschere = masked performers. These are made of chocolate.
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And again, these seller-guys on the the bridge.
While I was stuck by the train station, I wandered into the church of Santa Lucia in Venice. I saw some sort of tomb-thing with clear panels and what I assumed was the fake body of St. Lucia. Over a week later, in my Italian Life and Culture lecture, that particular church and body were brought up, and apparently the body is a real body. I was so horrified. All I remember is the feet were super creepy.
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A view down off the bridge into a garden. You can see how it’s walled off from the sidewalk side.
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Two people dressed up. The man’s mask has a strangely pointed chin; this mask was once using during political meetings so that votes could be caste anonymously. The protruding part allows for eating without removal of the mask.
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A really cute, desperately eager dog.
 
After this I met up with everyone at the train station, and we took the train back to Florence.
 
Advice for Venice:
  • Bring water proof things.
  • Bring rain boots.
  • Bring a lot of layers, it get’s pretty cold.
  • Wear good walking shoes.
  • Go island-hopping!!!! Go see Murano and Burano and whichever islands you can.
  • Don’t be late for the train ride home — you’ll get left behind, which happened on my trip.
  • If you’re going to buy a mask, walk around for at least a day before you choose one. By then, you should be able to recognise the mass-produced ones and buy something unique.
  • Try some cicheti
  • There’s no night life in Venice, so don’t wait until evening to go have fun.
  • From my experience and what I heard from other people, a lot of the restaurants serve bad food, so look up where you’d like to go or ask for a recommendation. My tour guide Rita recommended Cantina Dos Spade and Cantina Dos
  • If you have time, take a few hours and just sit on the vaporetto and enjoy views of the city from the meandering city water busses.
  • Don’t wear a backpack on the day you plan to visit the San Marco church.
  • Bring sunglasses — it can get blindingly sunny.

(I may edit this list of advice if I think to add anything.)

My personal summary of Venice:

I can’t explain why, but I didn’t feel very comfortable in Venice — I really expected to love it. I’ve always been drawn to water and the ocean, so it makes sense that I’d feel at home in the city built on water. At home on the West Coast I always end up in the water when I visit the beach, and often I’m the only one playing in the water with all my clothes on. The water in Venice’s canals are very chemicalized, partly because of loose regulations in the past which resulted in a lot of pollution. I suppose that beginning to feel sick that weekend didn’t help my impressions of the city. I didn’t like the food much overall in Venice (I think Tuscan food is way better, aka. the food in Florence). The city was very small, and a little less lively than I expected.

On the upside: I loved the water buses! I rode on them about 5 times. I already noted this, but I recommend just sitting on the water bus and using it to sight-see. Also, try some cicheti. The fact that Venice’s streets are mostly canals is fascinating, and the city does have some cute corners. It’s a little hilarious how often the city floods (probably not so funny if you live there). I liked seeing all the boats as well, and I like the way that the bridges connect everything. There are bridges that connect to the front door of a single house!

My impressions may not be accurate though, if you’ve been to Venice and had different impressions please comment! 🙂

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