SUNDAY 24th July 2005 Back to index

Today was our last day in Venice so we thought that we would spend a lazy morning in bed, or at least until the last moments of when breakfast was served. We set our alarms for 9:45am and shut the curtains tight but I forgot to turn off my body clock alarm which woke me up at 7:00am; wide eyed and ready for adventure!

Three hours later, after some coughing and prodding, Julie eventually got up and we made our move downstairs. We had a really pleasant lesuirely breakfast, stretching the ritual to over an hour, enjoying double helpings of everything! We were also entertained by the drama unfolding out on the waterfront where three "hard as nails" Gypsies dressed as ladies were intent on muscling in on the prime location used by those who have been here all week. Sadly, after some gesticulating and scowling we didn't get to see any action from our ringside seats as the new boys must have pulled the scariest faces as the the others slunk off to another location.

With the excitement over we returned to our room to pack. As we didn't have to checkout until 12pm today, we didn't! We are experts in precision sloth-ing eventually vacating our room with two minutes to spare!

We had absolutely nothing planned for today but as a rough idea we were simply going to wander around parts of this beautiful city that we may not have already visited. There weren't actually that many!

Our first port of call was going to be the Palazzo Ducale but having stood at the entrance for a while we decided against it. I'm not too sure why? Perhaps it was a sub-concious decision to leave something unseen so that we have a reason to return.

There's a pre-bookable "Secret" tour of the palace which is meant to be fantastic, taking you behind the scenes, over the Bridge of Sighs and into the prison cells, including Casanova's! A definite reason to come back.

We moved on and walked towards the front of the Basilica stumbling across the peculiar sculpture of the cudding Tetrarchs. I'm not too sure what tale lies behind them though? Some spoil of war no doubt? It certainly looked like an add-on.

Passing the front of the Basillica we noted the impregnable doors that again appeared to be some ill-gotten gain from raiding Constantinople.

Once again, for whatever reason, we decided not to go inside the Basillica. There was a queue but nothing too ridiculous. With hindsight we perhaps were a little stupid with our self denial.

Now we're going to have to come back!

Anyway, we left Piazza San Marco heading for all the designer shops.

Before coming to Venice we had joked that we would waltz into Gucci and buy a stunning (if a tad pompously described) "beige linen handknit moroccan faisle tunic" from their Men's Spring-Summer '05 collection!

We had seen (in "Hot Stars" magazine) David Beckham wearing one on his visit to Venice for his 30th birthday. Julie said "I've just seen a you top"

I took one look at it and said "I just have to have one" obviously joking, yet secretly actually wanting one. If only it wasn't for the attrocious €600 price tag! I mean if it's hand knitted by Moroccans who don't have the protection of a minimum wage or that of a Trade Union then surely it only cost them some €20 to manufacture! Ah, but it's Gucci ....

www.gucci.com

So we walked straight past the Gucci store, straight past Versace, straight past Louis Vuitton. By the time I'd reached the Post Office I realised that I was walking by myself!

Julie had been caught by the spell of the Louis Vuitton window. This tiny micro leather bag, big enough only to carry a satsuma had captured her interest. We both stood there with necks cricked trying to spy the price tag.

"Go inside and ask" I told her.

"I don't want to" she replied "the staff look so unapproachable"

And that was that. We continued past Louis Vuitton towards the Post Office.

We rambled through the busy and narrow Frezzaria street full of souvenir shops and hawkers selling fake Louis Vuitton micro leather bags before popping out in an open space called Campo San Fantin.

This was where the Opera House La Fenice stood.

It's name means 'The Phoenix' after it was rebuilt in 1774 after the original theatre burnt down. It has since risen from the ashes twice again, in 1836 and 1996!

We continued along, popping into a cafe on Calle Cortesia only for a drink, but ending up simply having to eat a lovely portion of Melanzane di Parmigiano! Mmmm.

A little further along we emerged again into a large open space called Campo Manin. In its centre stood an impressive statue of Daniele Manin.

He was born nearby, and led the Venetian Revolution against the Austrian occupation in 1848. He was also a strong advocate of Italian reunification but died before it happened.

There was a quite modern looking building here that really looked out of place!? It's first nasty looking Sixties office block that I'd seen in Venice.

Down from this square, along a narrow alley was a very interesting and unique building called Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo. It was a very ornate and romanticised building.

It was .... <detail?>

We briefly debated whether or not to climb the tower before Julie accepted her fate and followed me up the steps.

I stopped at the first level to take some photographs whilst Julie carried on up the spiral staircase.

I then raced to catch her up by the third level. My momentum carried me on and I had gone several steps beyond her when I heard her little quivering voice exclaim "help! ... wait!"

I turned back to see Julie on all fours, rooted to the spot! She was completely petrified, unable to move forwards nor backwards, with her legs having surrendered the will to walk.

"I'm having a dizzy moment!" she said.

Whilst I was obviously concerned about her it was incredibly difficult not to erupt into laughter.

We weren't exactly reinacting a romantic scene from Romeo & Juliet were we!

I returned down the steps and gave her my arm as support but she just couldn't stand up. Showing great courage however she didn't give in and crawled up to the fourth and final level.

For someone with such a low scare threshold she shows incredible determination to fight the fear!

Safely at the top Julie stayed at the back, leaning against the solid wall, whilst I walked to the balcony to appreciate the view. I personally thought the alternative view of the rooftops was worth the climb but Julie wasn't particularly enamoured!

We left the Palazzo and returned back to Piazza San Marco stumbling across a gaggle of gondolas along the way!

This 'taxi rank' for gondolas was quite a peculiar sight.

We decided to walk over to the San Polo district mainly to see if Taverna da Baffo was open so that we could while away the afernoon drinking Prosecco!

It took us quite some effort to walk over the Rialto and throught the market stalls.

It was the most hectic I'd experienced Venice. We had to resort to a little "push and shove" to get through!

Before too long however we had left behind the madding crowd and were strolling down streets that were so full of character, aching with history.

Simply stunning.

We eventually arrived outside Taverna da Baffo only to find it shut!

Aaargh !!

We were gutted.

Hungry and thirsty we were easily disheartened yet we bravely staggered forwards and onwards, crossing new borders into a new district.

 

Just around the corner we stumbled across the imposing Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari .

Keeping up the theme of "not going inside" we carried onwards where we found, tucked in its shadow, a little tiny bar with just three tables and six chairs. Hoorah!

We finally got to park our weary backsides onto aluminium chairs and kicked back with a few glasses of Prosecco each. This was such a welcome relief!

We could have stayed here all afternoon but we were concerned about getting absolutely trollied and being too drink to find our way back to the airport!!

We got up and staggered a few yards to the Scuola San Rocco which housed many masterpieces but none of which tempted us inside. We were more interested in a street performer strumming his guitar with a maracas shoved in his shoe!

He was quite entertaining and sang many different styles including several Beatles songs. His European accent was cool when he sang "Speking vords of visdom, Led id bee"

 

 

 

We sat on the steps of the Scuola San Rocco listening to him for well over half an hour. Moving on after leaving him a well earned €2 donation.

We followed the signs down towards the Accademia, down some more dark alleys, past several "Venetian Mask" workshops on Calle San Pantalon, through Campo Santa Magherita, over the Bridge of Fists, weaving along even more narrow alleyways until we came to the Ponte Accademia.

It was now 4pm and time for us to start thinking about our Last Supper in Venice. We marched down Calle Larga XXII Marzo ignoring for the final time the allure of the designer windows.

Stepping into Piazza San Marco we walked straight across aiming for Campo San Filippo e Giacomo where several restaurant were gathered.

None pleased us.

We kept on walking around until we reached Ponte dei Greci where along the canl side two restaurants competed for customers. Both were poor but by now we didn't care!

We went for the Al Greci restaraunt with a set tourist menu at €17.

We shared a caprese salad and I had a gnocchi al pomodoro to start, which were both perfectly adequate.

My spaghetti with oil and garlic was quite enjoyable but Julie endured a mediocre grilled pork with french fries.

I was looking forward to the dolci but the 'dessert' that came with the set menu was a feeble tinned fruit cocktail with 'squirty' cream.

No panacotta, no tiramisu, no zabaglione nor a beautiful cheesecake; nothing like that!

As Last Suppers go it was a big disappointment!

We left about 6pm and caught our Alilaguna boat back to the airport.

The sun was now setting behind Venice causing the water to shimmer and the towers and domes to be silhouletted.

It once more looked quite serene.

That was until the tranquility was rudely interupted by this massive ocean liner! Why are they allowed so near?!

The journey home was long and tedious, lifted only by the beautiful pizza we devoured and bottle of Prosecco we guzzled at the airport. Top nosh!

But more than usual our spirits were low as we desperately wished we didn't have to return home from this beautiful city.

A nice Euro lottery win and we'd be on the next plane back!!

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