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Venice in April – Palazzo’s and more

No trip to Venice is complete without a gondola serenade

The gray and rainy weather continues for a second day which is of great relief to the locals that saw canals run very low this winter with a rare drought. One of the positive benefits is the crowd as are smaller. Our visit this morning included a walking tour with professional guides which is a great way to learn more about the unique history of this once formidable maritime superpower.

Venice lagoon

Our private guide Andrea met us between the two columns on St. Marc square for an educational “hidden gems of Venice” walking tour.

Columns on St. Marc Square

The symbolism of the two columns is not obvious at first but with imagination of centuries past, they marked the entrance to the city market for trade bringing endless prosperity to the merchants of Venice.

Hidden canals away from the tourist paths

Built entirely on wooden posts hammered into the marshland that petrified from the salty water over the centuries, what we know as Venice today consists in fact of 120 islands forming 177 canals. Each interior square called a “campo” is complete with a clever rainwater collection and sand filtering system that provided residents with drinking water. Many such cistern systems are still operational today. on our way over bridges, narrow passages and intimacy squares, we came upon the fantastic architectural staircase of a wealthy merchant home near Rialto.

Scala Contarini del Bavolo

Used as a filming location for Orson Wells’ Othello, this awesome staircase was added on to this 11th century palazzo in the 15th century in a mixed gothic and neo-Roman style. For 💶 8 you can climb the 112 steps to the top for unrivaled views of the Venice Skyline.

The climb was rather easy when compared to church towers of the medieval kind as it was a marble stepped, 6 feet wide spiral with plenty of room to cross opposing traffic. The visit was well worth it for the views and experience.

View of St. Marc’s tower from the roof terrace

Our discovery tour then continued with a boat tour of the lagoon that included the rarely seen area of the Arsenale where the mighty Venecians built their fleet of merchant vessels over the centuries. As an added bonus, the sky started to clear, permitting rays of sunshine to peak through.

Our group of 8 on a private water taxi
The Rialto bridge from the water.

For anyone visiting Venice for the first time, I recommend the circular line 2 or 3 public Valporetto boat ride around the main islands and down the Grand Canal. If affordable public option doesn’t suit, a rivals boat tour for an jour runs about 💶 90 plus a tip.

Lorenzo Quinn’s “Bridging Hands” exhibit

As the boat turned in for the Arsenale area, a giant sculpture of hands breached the sky. Created over the ship yard float out ramp, these hands represent the human connections and states of emotions. Created by famed actor Gregory Peck’s son Lorenzo, this art installation sparked provocative conversations aboard our boat and left me in awe over a city full of art that is open to modern interpretations of the human condition. Truly a special moment.

End of our cruise at the ramp of the Baglioni Luna hotel

Our ride ended at lunch time conveniently at the private dock for the Alina Baglioni Hotel where we were received for a special lunch. Stay tuned for a culinary blog on the experiences in Venice.

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