I get up early and head to San Marco Square to get in all the big monuments. First up is Palaze Ducale – the Palace of the Doge. The Doge is the head of the Venetian Republic throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. He is mostly a figurehead, so much of his palace was taken up with epic numbers of institution chambers where various councils and committees sat. There was also a Grand Council Chamber where over 2000 people would come and sit – every nobleman whose name was in the Golden Book. Massive frescoes all through each of these rooms, allegorical and religious as well as portraits of Doges. There is a continuous fresco along the top of the Grand Council Chamber with every Doge on it, except for one who has been blacked out because he tried to make himself Prince. The Paradiso fresco takes up one entire wall of the Chamber, and it is truly huge. Unfortuantely, most of the things worth seeing in the Museums I could not take pictures of, and there were guards to bitch if I did. So, you’ll have to take my word for the awesomeness, or google it. Either way. We also got a tour of the prisons attached to the Palace, which were quite funky and small. These are the famous prisons that Casanova broke out of, which was quite awesome. The secret tour of the torture chambers and secret passageways and other forbidden stuff was sadly booked out.
By this point I was feeling really really sick. I figured the Panini I had had the other day must have been bad, but I was fucked and my stomach was throwing a fit. Gruesome details aside, I managed to keep down a gelato eventually and sat for an hour or so trying not to fall asleep in the Square. I couldn’t go back to the hostel yet, because of lock-out, so I summoned the energy to check out the Basilica. As I mentioned above – lots of gold everywhere. This was basically all there is to say about it. Its ostentatious and huge, but the gold is so dominating that I didn’t feel for the frescoes all that much. Its very Gothic. So I didn’t explore a whole lot of it, simply taking in the main area. Plus there were no chairs. This is my one other bitch I will have here. It’ll be brief I promise. I wish more Museums would put chairs in their room, or a bench. I want to linger and enjoy the paintings, take in all the details and let the thing was over me. Now when you have 20 rooms of amazing paintings, I don’t want to stand in front of them for 2 hours, especially when I have been walking all day. The most irritating thing is when there are chairs in one room, and you are almost forced to go and sit there for a quick rest, staring a the same painting and summon the energy to check out some more. In the Peggy Guggenheim collection, it was in the Jackson Pollock room. I swear it was just to taunt me.
So sickly little Sheira wanders back to her hostel and has a quick nap. But she sleeps through the alarm she set, and has a 3 hours sleep instead. Oops. That night I wander through San Polo, taking in the random sights. I happen upon the Church of the Frari completely by accident, but it was closed. This was sad but there are so many churches and so many frescoes in Venice, I should leave something for next time. I had planned to go to a theatre I had seen that morning near the Rialto Bridge that was playing a selection of arias and duets form famous operas accompanied by a mini orchestra (1 flute, oboe, clarinet, viola, harpsichord/piano, double bass, cello, and 2 violins). It was in full 18th century costume in this beautiful little hall. The baritone and soprano were amazing, and very good at acting the parts, which was good as I had no idea what they were saying. I knew two of the operas well enough to be able to guess at where in the opera it was from, and who they were meant to be. The tenor had a bit of a nasal quality to his voice that I didn’t like, but he also got the more dense arias, whereas the baritone got the more fun pieces.
After the lovely concert, I headed to San Marco Square, which is beautiful at night. I wandered along the waterfront, and had gelato and listened to the live music. The Square was flooded already by high tide seeping through the cobbles which was quite awesome. It was this that highlighted how important it is to travel with someone. Times like that you want to sit back with some wine and chat and enjoy the ambience. One can try alone, but it is not quite the same. You also feel the lack of companions in museums where everything seems to be like a dream. When there is noone to voice your response to painting or a room, then you feel like you have been muted. There is noone to discuss the finer points of the armour and weapons displayed, or comment on the use of light and colour in a particular painting, or laugh with at the random woman wearing the ridiculous stiletto heels. To anyone who has taken the time to read my blog, and has gotten this far down this absolutely massive post, I have probably missed you at some point or another so far. I don’t think I have talked so little since I was a baby and didn’t know how. It develops into a sort of shyness where you don’t know what your voice sounds like or whether you should even talk. It’s weird. But tonight I’m staying in Florence in a big hostel with lots of other people, and the plan is to break that pattern.
Got a little lost on the way home. That wasn’t fun but its an occupational hazard in Venice.