Slow & Steady in Venice

It’s already Wednesday, which means we go home the day after tomorrow! And on top of that, we had to get up early again today because we’re off on another day trip (more on that later – we’re already on a train as I write this, though). But hey, that’s how our vacations often go, right?

What about Tuesday? Well, we had a bit of a slow day in some ways. Once again, we had nothing to wake up for (other than our scheduled breakfast time at our hotel), but the lack of AC and the noise from the courtyard outside our windows starting at 6 AM didn’t make it easy to sleep in. That said, after waking up too early for sure, we were both able to get back to sleep for awhile, not getting back up until close to 830, so that was good! And since the breakfast room is about 20 feet from our door, we had a short commute to reach our food. As I said in yesterday’s post, the breakfast was tasty, but not as good as what we had at Fifteen Keys. We both got bacon and eggs, plus the typical European offerings of some pastries, cold meat/cheese, juice, etc. Very serviceable!

The bacon was very thin, almost crepey. And the eggs were pretty black peppery, but both were tasty!

Post-breakfast, we started figuring out what to do today. Unlike Rome, we didn’t pre-book anything to do in Venice and we also didn’t put together a super comprehensive list of things to do on the fly either. I think the older we get, the more quickly we run out of steam on vacation (since we do vacations like this that involve seeing and doing a variety of things), so we sometimes end up doing fewer things. Which is totally fine! Although we tend to do, see, and experience a lot when we travel, we aren’t in competition with anyone. But it is hard to think that our first few European trips were three weeks long! And that was in the days before Google Maps could lead us everywhere on our smartphones (at least while we were out of the country, since we didn’t have international service like we do now), so we had to be really planful day to day. Now, we can just head out with an idea of where we want to go and let our phones sort us out if we don’t know where to go next. So we did that, planning a first stop at a church, Santa Maria della Salute (usually just called Salute). Construction was started in 1631 (not completed until 1687 though) as an offering to Our Lady of Good Health in response to a bad plague outbreak that hit Venice. I guess that’s as good a reason to build a church as any other! We had a bit of an adventure to get there though, as Google Maps decided that, despite me telling the app to get us there on foot, it decided it would take us on a path that required a water taxi, which we wouldn’t have minded doing, but it was literally one stop, just across the water, so that didn’t feel like it was worth €10 each! Thankfully, Scott spied a crossing bridge a little ways down, so we hoofed it over there in plenty of time to visit the church (they were closing early due to Nov 1 being a holy day). Although you can visit the church for free, you can also pay a few euro to go to the cupola at the top. Although we’re usually down for a good, high vantage point like that, it wasn’t clear if that option was available, given the early closing time. Plus, it was quite foggy outside, so if there are any views to see from the top (I’m not even sure if you can see outside of if it’s just interior stuff), they would have been obscured. It was a nice, quick stop, but I was bummed to see that the whole exterior was covered in scaffolding. I know that’s how old buildings are preserved and restored, but couldn’t they have checked with us on our travel plans first?? πŸ™‚

Onto a few photos!

Another day, another canal.
The combination of signs, building color, and the flowers made this a nice photo moment for me.
Scott showing off just how narrow some of these passageways and alleys are.
I wonder how long you have to live in Venice before you just take canals for granted. I told Scott that, even a day into being here, they were starting to just feel normal for me!
At least the dome isn’t covered in scaffolding!
The church is a big octagon, with a central, open space and lots of side altars like this around it.
This felt more like a chapel, off to the side from the big open part.
Speaking of the big open part, here it is! Not sure if they have service here (no pews/seats out) or just in that side chapel.

One church down! For our next stop, we decided to head towards St. Mark’s Basilica and the things around it, like Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Campanile (the Venetians want to make it clear the whole space is dedicated to St. Mark!), the Doge’s Palace, and more. And which of them did we visit? When we first got there, none of them! As with Salute, the basilica had weird hours, but it was opening late instead of closing early and wasn’t yet open when we were there. The campanile (bell tower) was open, but again, the foggy weather didn’t inspire the best views, so we passed on that. And in my research online, I saw there were multi-entry tickets for the Doge’s Palace (doge is often translated as duke – the doge was the leader of Venice for over 1,000 years), so we also didn’t want to just buy a ticket for that. Also, the whole of the piazza was VERY busy and swamped with people, so we honestly weren’t feeling it much, so we decided to just bail and go back to the hotel for a bit. πŸ™‚ After not sleeping well the previous night, we were both fine with recharging for awhile. After doing a bit more research online while we were back though, we did end up going to back at least visit the basilica. We had to wait in line for about a half-hour though and came within 20 minutes of their final entry for the day. But we made it!

Photos of the whole piazza and visit to the basilica below!

Before we got to the piazza, we enjoyed a cannoli. When in Rome Venice, right??

Not St. Mark’s, but rather Chiesa di San MoisΓ¨, which we passed along the way. Stopped in for a quick photo!

We also crossed over this canal, which looked especially gorge with the restaurant and gondolas there.
Finally, the piazza! The bell tower is actually a reconstruction as the original collapsed in 1902.
The entrance to the bell tower.
The Doge’s Palace is now a museum (no surprise there).
How nice of St. Mark’s to also have scaffolding on it! At least it wasn’t totally covered.

A couple of other photos of St. Mark’s, this time taken while waiting in line to get in (you can see the line filing in in the photo on the right).

Neat mosaic floor as soon as we walked in.
Also lots of intricate work on the ceiling throughout the whole church. This church was built in the mid-800s and then rebuilt about 200 years later, so it’s certainly old!
Looking towards the main altar. You could buy a separate ticket that let you walk back there, but we opted not to get it.
And this is looking towards the door from the altar.
I’m always a sucker for an ornate lectern/pulpit.
It’s not just the actual ceiling that looks ornate, but even the insides of archways like this one.
One more shot of as much of the church as I could get in one photo!

A couple more golden ceiling photos on our way out! This is definitely a place where you don’t want to forget to look up.

With our time around St. Mark’s done, I wanted to see one other thing there before moving on – the Bridge of Sighs. It’s literally what it sounds like – a small bridge that connects one building to another that people sighed in. Huh?! πŸ™‚ In this case, that bridge connects interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace to the prison next to it. The enclosed bridge got its name from the fact that prisoners would give the beauty of Venice a final look through the windows of the bridge and then sign before being put in their prison cells. A bit of a sad history, but history isn’t always pretty, is it?

I’d like to thank these gondolas for being there to add some ambiance to my photo.

The last place I’d found for us to visit was the Jewish Ghetto, which is where Jewish people were forced to live by the local Venetian government (it was established by the government way back in 1516). Did you know we got the word ghetto in English from this place? I definitely didn’t! It came from the word “giotto” (or “geto”) which just means foundry (the first Jewish area was given that name because it was a near a foundry that made cannons). While there wasn’t necessarily much to see here (especially as it had gotten dark by the time we reached it), it was still interesting to see such a historical part of the core (where, incidentally, many Jewish people live even today).

Signs we saw on our way into and out of the ghetto.

The main square of the ghetto.
This isn’t specific to the ghetto, but I really like the look of these door buzzers we keep seeing, so I wanted to get a photo of them.

It’s perhaps not surprising that the last thing we had planned was…dinner! This evening’s selection was Gio’s, which is actually inside the St. Regis Hotel. We didn’t realize that at first, so we were a bit confused when Google led us there, but a very friendly man at the door confirmed we were in the right place and then led us through the hotel to the restaurant. This one definitely felt like the swankiest place so far, both in terms of ambiance and food (not to mention service). We sat kind of outside (one of those structures that showed during the pandemic up in lots of big cities to enable outdoor eating), right next to a canal (across from Salute, in fact), so that was nice! The menu was more limited and definitely skewed to seafood, but we both enjoyed what we ate, which is what a restaurant needs to get right anyway!

Outside the St. Regis.
A well-appointed bar!
We shared this appetizer – seared beef with morels and a tasty sauce. I am not a fan of mushrooms, but these morels were nice!
We also got this little “welcome treat” from the chef – an arribatta leaf and a few small, fried ravioli with ricotta and spinach.

My main course was risotto with pumpkin (I had just been thinking about risotto the day before, so this was great) and my dessert was chocolate gelato. Very nice!

We had a nice, quiet, crowd-free walk back to the hotel, which was great, given how hectic and crowded Venice has been. And it was early to bed for our early-to-rise moment this morning. I’m publishing this post as we wait another half-hour for our train back to Venice from our day trip. We had a fun, full day in Milan today, so check back to read about it!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!