Venice
My Personal Take on Venice
Most of you know that I travel a lot - well "a lot" may be an understatement.  In the past few years I've visited 33 countries (most of them several times) and I usually make 2 or 3 international trips a year.  People constantly ask me, "what is your favorite place to visit?"  I used to avoid that question because I have too many favorite places.   While that is still true I have to admit that every time I go back to Venice it gets higher on my list of favorite places - so much, in fact that it may well be true that Venice IS my favorite place.

I've visited Venice many times.  Every time it has been with a Venice "newbie."  I always assured them, "you won't be dissapointed with Venice" and I've never been wrong.  Not only are they not dissapointed, it seems that no matter how high their expectations are Venice always exceeds them. 

One of the great things about Venice is that it is so compact that you do not need a vehicle to get around - thats a good thing because there are no cars (or roads for that matter) in Venice.  Venice is a series of islands.  There are sidewalks along the sides of the buildings and they are connected by bridges that cross the canals.  The canals serve as "streets."  There are only two ways to get around - on foot or by boat.
-RCD

 
Venice from the air
Take a look at the aerial photograph below.  All of the lines runing between blocks (that look like streets) are actually canals.  There is one giant canal that flows like a letter "S" through the center of the city.  This is the Grand Canal.  Until a few years ago the only access to Venice from the mainland was by boat.  Now there is a causeway (lower left corner) with a parking garage at the end.  That is where all motor traffic ends.

San Marco Campanile
The bell tower of St Mark's Basilica located in the piazza of the same name is one of the most recognizable symbols of the city.

The tower is 98.6 meters tall, and stands alone in a corner of St Mark's Square, near the front of the basilica.  The campanile reached its present form in 1514. As it stands today, however, the tower is a reconstruction, completed in 1912 after it collapsed in 1902.

Ponte di Rialto
The Rialto Bridge is one of only four bridges that span the Grand Canal. It is the oldest bridge across the canal and probably the most famous in the city.  The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was completed in 1591. It is remarkably similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The engineering of the bridge was considered so audacious that architect Vincenzo Scamozzi predicted future ruin. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.






The Carnival of Venice
First recorded in 1268 the Carnival of Venice is the orginal festival from which many similar events (Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro) were copied.

Masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen's Day, December 26) at the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. They have always been around Venice. As masks were also allowed during Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Maskmakers (mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.




In 1797, Venice became part of the Austrian-held Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia when Napoleon signed the Treaty of Campo Formio. The Austrians took control of the city on January 18, 1798 and it fell into a decline which also effectively brought carnival celebrations to a halt for almost two centuries.  Carnival was outlawed by the fascist government in the 1930s. It was not until a modern mask shop was founded in the 1980s that Carnival enjoyed a revival. Carnival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday.  You will now see shops for masks and other related carnival attire throughout the city.
Basilica di San Marco a Venezia
Saint Mark's Basilica, the cathedral of Venice, is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on St Mark's Square (in the San Marco sestiere or district) adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the "chapel" of the Venetian rulers, and not the city's cathedral. Since 1807 it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building was known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
This is typical, everyday Venice.
Walk the alleys of Venice and you'll will find literally hundreds of views like the ones above.  You'll have plenty of time to do this on our trip.
favorite place to visit?"  I used to avoid that question because I have too many favorite places.   While that is still true I have to admit that every time I go back to Venice it gets higher on my list of favorite places - so much, in fact that it may well be true that Venice IS my favorite place.

I've visited Venice many times.  Every time it has been with a Venice "newbie."  I always assured them, "you won't be dissapointed with Venice" and I've never been wrong.  Not only are they not dissapointed, it seems that no matter how high their expectations are Venice always exceeds them. 

One of the great things about Venice is that it is so compact that you do not need a vehicle to get around - thats a good thing because there are no cars (or roads for that matter) in Venice.  Venice is a series of islands.  There are sidewalks along the sides of the buildings and they are connected by bridges that cross the canals.  The canals serve as "streets."  There are only two ways to get around - on foot or by boat.
-RCD

 

I've visited Venice many times.  Every time it has been with a Venice "newbie."  I always assured them, "you won't be dissapointed with Venice" and I've never been wrong.  Not only are they not dissapointed, it seems that no matter how high their expectations are Venice always exceeds them. 

One of the great things about Venice is that it is so compact that you do not need a vehicle to get around - thats a good thing because there are no cars (or roads for that matter) in Venice.  Venice is a series of islands.  There are sidewalks along the sides of the buildings and they are connected by bridges that cross the canals.  The canals serve as "streets."  There are only two ways to get around - on foot or by boat.
One of the great things about Venice is that it is so compact that you do not need a vehicle to get around - thats a good thing because there are no cars (or roads for that matter) in Venice.  Venice is a series of islands.  There are sidewalks along the sides of the buildings and they are connected by bridges that cross the canals.  The canals serve as "streets."  There are only two ways to get around - on foot or by boat.
and I've never been wrong.  Not only are they not dissapointed, it seems that no matter how high their expectations are Venice always exceeds them. 

One of the great things about Venice is that it is so compact that you do not need a vehicle to get around - thats a good thing because there are no cars (or roads for that matter) in Venice.  Venice is a series of islands.  There are sidewalks along the sides of the buildings and they are connected by bridges that cross the canals.  The canals serve as "streets."  There are only two ways to get around - on foot or by boat.