Saturday, June 30, 2007

Santa Maria della Salute and San Marcos-Doge Palace

At the end of the Grand Canal, as we saw when entering Venice, is the Dogana de Mar followed by the Santa Maria della Salute. The Dogana was the customs office. On top is Atlas holding the world with Fortuna as weathervane. The Santa Maria was built by Baldassare Longhena for the people of Venice. The plague hit Venice particularly hard, as we might expect of a merchant shipping city. When it was clear that the city would survive, Venicians had the Santa Maria built in gratitude to the Virgin for saving them.

The palace of the Doge is stratigically positioned to be seen when entering the city from the sea. Dignitaries could sail right up in former times. These days, yachts park just up the way.
We'll get to San Marco on foot later.

Train and Grand Canal

One way to enter Venice is via train, over the causeway and debark at Sant Lucia station-right on the Grand Canal. We had arranged a water taxi from our hotel on the Lido. So, after a very long night on the sleeper-perhaps more appropriately-the interupted sleeper due to 6 passport checks, we were escorted to our water taxi and taken through the Grand Canal to the Hotel Excelsior on the Lido. There we got much appreciated coffee while waiting for our shuttle bus to our hotel, the Des Bains.

House along the causway (from the train).

The train station and levitating protectress who oversees travelers.
Our taxi from the train station.
We know that this was a sea captain's house from the columns on the roof.

Vini, Vidi, Photo

For those of us who studied Latin lots of years ago, or didn't study at all, I offer a translastion (Ceasar forgive me): We came, we saw, I photoed. In this blog, I will be more visual than verbal, but first, and introduction to the lay of the land. Island, actually.

I'll start with Venice. I'll start there because I am still be-dazzled by the place. There are many photos. I'll try to not be too redundant, but you'll just have to skim if I get too carried away. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Don't forget to click on them to get a bigger view.

Venice is actually a city on several islands joined by bridges. One reaches Venice by boat, or on the causeway which links it to the mainland. This causeway has a highway and railway, allowing for automotive and train travel. On the mainland is an airport (Marco Polo Airport).

Cruise ships come from the Adriatic Sea to the Gulf of Venezia, then through the jetties past the island of Lido (on the left). Turning left, they navigate the Canale de San Marco past the narrower Grand Canal, and on through Canale della Giudecca which seperates the island of Giudecca from the main island (actually group of islands we think of as Venice). They then dock at the Bacino della Stazione Marittima.

During our stay, we took all the conventional methods of entering and exiting Venice.

Lighthouses on either side of jetties.

There is actually contriversial work going on in this entryway in an effort to protect the city from tides in the winter months. Eventually a set of baffles will be installed. When a second high tide comes in before the first has been able to retreat, which happens during some winter storms, the city floods.
Continuing to follow the boat wakes around the curve of the Lido (front left), note the fortress on the little island on the right.

If you take a right here, you will head towards Murano-where the glass is made. We'll save that trip for later and continue on to the Guidecca Canal. Check out views of the Lido on the left. We are in the Canal de San Marco, and can get out first good view of the city and the Grand Canal on the right.

Later we will take many trips up and down the Grand Canal, but for now we will just note the dome of the Santa Maria della Salute (which is being rennovated) and the Doge's palace and San Marco on the right. We are headed on through the Guidecca Canal to the pier.

On the left is the island of Guidecca, and on the right is the island with all the canals and gondolas and museums and famous sights of Venice. Down at the end of the lagoon we can see a cruise ship pulling into the pier. On our way in, we pass the condo ship, the World. You may remember that this is the ship that encountered pirates off the coast of Africa. Looks like she is sailing in tamer waters today.

When we finally come to rest at pier, we can see the rooftops of Venice over the top of another cruise ship, and the causeway to the mainland.