Travel Diaries: Ciao Venezia!

Another travel post from one of our stops during the ACGC 2012 European tour — the picturesque Venezia!

We were here from April 25-27, coming from Koper, Slovenia. We only had two days to explore and breathe in the air of the “Floating City.” Venice was a powerful city during Middle Ages and Renaissance, as it was the place known for art and commerce. Its command of the water made it a force to be reckoned with during those times. Today, millions of people travel to the city a year, and Fr. Luigi, our host during our stay, told us that the city has more tourists than locals! It’s also famous for its glass-work in Murano, housing different glass factories, the Carnival of Venice using the popular Venetian masks, and of course the gondolas and its use of water transportation!

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We had to take this short train ride from the bus station to go to Venice. I thought it meant going straight to the heart of Venice but I was so very wrong..

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A group of 39 people, mostly Venice first-timers — you can just imagine how excited everyone was!

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To San Marco Rialto

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It was our first time to see a canal. Everyone stopped to take pictures. Little did we know we will be surrounded by it as we went deeper into the city lol told you we were excited!

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We had to go through so many nooks and crannies, Venice is full of them! It was like a maze trying to get anywhere

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So thankfully there were always signs that said Per S. Marco, which would always direct us to the famous Piazza San Marco.

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After almost an hour of walking with all of our bags and maletas (it was only supposed to be a 30-min walk!), we finally reached the Grand Canal!!!!

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We dropped our things at the church where the boys were going to stay (the girls were distributed to different hosts) and went straight to where all the commotion was…

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Piazza San Marco! Though technically, that’s the Campanile di San Marco haha! There were so many people enjoying the sights and sun, I was actually scared of getting lost and left behind!

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One of the entrances of the famous Basilica di San Marco. Its nickname, Chiesa d’Oro (Church of Gold), describes what one would see when he enters the basilica: gold, bronze and various stones were used to create the mosaics of its interior. Since there were so many people going in and out of the basilica, I couldn’t stop and taking pictures. We were able to go to the Sacristy (where we sang Caritas et amor arr. by Z. Stroope,  to some of the church officials and priests) and the Crypt. I’ll go into detail towards the end of the post as we visited the inside on our second day.

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The Doge’s Palace

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I couldn’t take a better photo as we were already lagging behind but this is Hotel Danieli, one of the most lavish and famous 5-star hotels in Venice, stationed right by the Grand Canal. It was built by the Dandolo family during the 14th century. A night here would cost $2,520!! :O

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PIZZA ROLLS NOMNOMNOM

We had to attend mass at Chiesa di Santa Maria Della Fava before we could go to our host’s place and so we were only on our way home at around 7PM. Our host lives in Ponte dell’Accademia, which was pretty far from where our “base” was. Lugging around all our things was a bit of a hassle..

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… until we saw this beautiful, stare-at-it-forever view on top of the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge (one of only four bridges in Venice that crosses the Grand Canal). Oh what I’ll do to see this again in the flesh!

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Fiona was my housemate then! We’re with one of our host’s friends.

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Oh Venice :”>

The next two photos are from Gorby’s camera. They went around Piazza San Marco and the Rialto Bridge at night.

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Notice the absence of most tourists 😛

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Rialto bridge as the sun was setting

On our second day, it was pretty much the same schedule: group sight-seeing, lunch, free time until our mass service at 5PM, this time at  Chiesa di Santo Stefano.

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Early morning in Venice

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Our host wanted us to experience the water bus so here’s the map of its routes! Fiona and I took lots of videos — it was exciting riding it despite it being so slow. Haha! #fullontouristmode

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That’s how the station stops looked like as well as the water bus!

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Rialto Bridge!

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First stop was Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta detta i Gesuiti, the only Jesuit church in Venice 🙂

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No interior photos but we sang Prayer for Generosity. Goosebumps.

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I think this is the first time I’ve uploaded a picture of EuroTour Cast 2012. I miss you guys! :-*

We walked around even more but I can’t remember the names of the places anymore since I really couldn’t hear Fr. Luigi’s explanations as I was always at the back of the line 😦 (ExeCom tour duties)

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That’s their cemetery!

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We actually saw one of their funeral boats, where a casket was on its way to the cemetery.

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We went back to Piazza San Marco to finally go inside the basilica.

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As I said awhile ago, we were given the opportunity to see the sacristy and crypt of Basilica di San Marco. This is the inside of the sacristy where we sang Caritas et amor arranged by Z. Randall Stroope. Probably my personal favorite performance of the song.

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That’s also how the ceiling of the basilica looked like but even more massive!

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The Crypt. We were told that when Venice would be flooded, this place would be completely submerged.

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Our next stop was at the top of Campanile di San Marco. It’s the bell tower of Basilica di San Marco but it also served as a watch tower and lighthouse as it was stationed by the dock.

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The piazza as we were waiting in line. Fun fact: there is a law forbidding anyone to feed the birds fluttering around 😛

The following photos were taken from the top of the bell tower. To say it was breathtaking would not even suffice. Seeing them now, I wish I could instantly fly to Venice and just marvel at this view.

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Now say it with me: I want to go to Venice, I want to go to Venice, I want to go to Venice. Repeat 100x.

We had free time after so we decided to do the most tourist-y thing possible in Venice — ride a gondola!!

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Of course I rode with the seniors + Carlo + Carlo! Our gondolier’s name is Carlo too 🙂 fun fact: Gondolas are passed down to the next generation in a family as it is considered an art as gondolas are handmade. Contrary to popular belief, being a gondolier is full-time job and is even regulated by a guild that issues permits and licenses after periods of apprenticeship and training! They even have an exam before they can be certified. They’re tested on Venetian history, landmarks, foreign language (as most gondolas are used by tourists today), and practical skills in the use of a gondola in the smallest of canals.

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We saw the back entrance of Ca’Rezzonico, a public museum on 18th century Venice.

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Yes, that’s the common gondolier uniform 😉

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Afternoon view of the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge

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Obligatory tourist photo!

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We had free time until our 5PM mass service. Since Dom ditched me and Gorby, we decided to eat along one of the canals at Ristorante alla Conchiglia. The food was nothing special (overpriced tourist food) but the feel and atmosphere of Venice truly enhanced the experience 🙂

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Spaghetti with meat sauce

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Roast potatoes + Chicken in white wine (obviously, they worked hard on the plating)

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The dessert was like leche flan 😛

After the mass, Fiona and I walked back to our place, stopping along some stores to look around. They sold a variety of things, from Venetian masks to fountain pens to small busts of famous people.. haha! But Venice is really an expensive city since it’s mostly full of tourists — prices were so inflated.

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What caught my eye were the shops that sold books with so much intricate detail like the one above. This one costs around €400-500!

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We reached this magnificent view as the sun finally set 🙂

We went around Ponte dell’Accademia. I loved Venice even more at night, where there were less people on the streets and the street lamps illuminated the city. Venice is really one of the most romantic cities in the world.

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I end this post with one of the biggest pizzas I’ve ever eaten NOMNOMNOMNOM

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