Sunday, June 6, 2010

Exploring Venice, Italy/ Gondoliers, Glass and Masks

Mac and I headed off from San Marco Square for a little window shopping.
My cousin Terry has her black belt in "shopping" but I have mine in WINDOW SHOPPING.
I have decorated many houses in my mind with all the wonderful things I've seen in display windows!

Let's talk about the Venetian masks.

The masks were worn during the carnevale in the medieval period in Venice. Imagine a society where all knew each other. Perhaps those of you living in small towns understand this idea.
At this time in Venice the peasants and the gentry would use the masks during carnevale to be anonymous from any prying eyes or judging neighbors. I suppose they might have been "acting out" if you know what I mean.
In any case, they say even the clergy were known to don a mask to go out dancing.

Whatever your opinion on Carnevale in Venice the masks are still quite extraordinary to look at.

You can't go to Venice without checking out the shops filled with Venetian glass.
In many stores you will find glass that are true works of art.
I simply love to go in and admire the handiwork,
although,  I'd be scared of spending money for a piece and it getting broken!

Aunt Ruthie, I wanted to buy you a glass chicken, but they were so expensive the picture will have to do.

Our explorations led us by charming places,

small alleys,

the Rialto Bridge (taken on our first visit)
This bridge was built between 1588 and 1591, and it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal by foot until 1854.

The Rialto on this visit.
Here's some trivia for you.  Did you know the bridge designer Antonio da Ponte went up against Palladio and Michelangelo to win this contract to be the architect of the Rialto Bridge?

This is the view from the atop the Rialto onto the Grand Canal.

Our investigations continued by the canals and,
  quaint, old bridges


Mac and I were hungry after we finished our window shopping and exploring.
We happened upon this charming, tiny little restaurant.

It was called Anima Bella which means, BEAUTIFUL SOUL in Italian.
This is a real "Italian Grandma in the kitchen" type restaurant.
It's located at Calle Fiubera
San Marco 956
Telephone: 014 522 7486

The place only has 4 tables and our owner explained that she had
fresh ingredients bought from the market that day and no set menu.
Mac and I have learned in these cases to take the "pasta of the day" the hostess recommends. I have heard of a disgruntled person who was angry because she asked for tap water and didn't get it in this establishment.
Folks, here's a hint.....when you travel, DRINK the bottled's far safer for you.

We weren't disappointed with our meal and it's fresh ingredients.  It was lovely and tasted just like pasta from the Italian grandma I knew in Middletown, Conn.

Here I am getting ready for my food. Mac couldn't resist taking a picture.

We couldn't leave Venice without talking about what some consider to be the most romantic part of Venice.
The gondolas and the gondoliers.

You can haggle with some of the gondoliers on the canal as this woman did. However; you should know that the city of Venice does set official rates for the gondola rides.  It was about 80 Euro for 40 minutes when I checked. After 7 in the evening the rates will go up to about 100 Euro.

Another interesting piece of trivia is that after 900 years a woman, Giorgia Boscolo, has become the first woman gondolier.  She passed her exam in 2009.  This profession in Venice is organized like an old guild, with fathers passing on their rowing skills to their sons.  The only thing poor Giorgia has going for her in this all male dominated gondolier association is that her father was himself, a gondolier.

But, I say if you are in Venice....invest in the unforgettable ambience of a gondola ride.

  It is a once in a lifetime experience,

which, is quite simply MAGICAL!
Mac and I love Venice and give it three thumbs up.
We hope you enjoyed your tour of Venice with us.


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