I have to thank Sophie of Sophie’s World for alerting me to the fantastic competition ‘Go with Oh’ has on. You can become their autumn blogger by entering the competition and following the rules. Then, if you are lucky, you may be the chosen one to spend a whole month in the European city of your dreams and tell everybody about your experience and adventure.
I would love to go to Venice. I have only been once before, on the occasion of Carnival and, apart from joining in the festivities, like attending the opening ball in a palazzo and strutting around in my costume, I haven’t had much opportunity to visit the places in Venice I have dreamed about for a long time.
Every big city has an emblematic café or restaurant no self respecting visitor can pass up. Venice is no exception. Café Florian under the arcades in St. Mark’s Square is the place where Tout Venice stops by for coffee, chocolate cake and to see and be seen. This pastime has a very long tradition, as Café Florian first opened its door in 1720 and the establishment is a contender for older coffee house in continuous operation. Artists, writers, painters, journalist and other celebrities frequented Café Florian since the beginning, among them Goldoni, Goethe and Casanova, the latter maybe attracted by the fact that the Florian was the only coffee house which allowed women.
It’s not only the drinks and cakes which make the Café attractive but also the opulent decorations. I want to look at the Sala degli Uomini Illustri, the room of famous men, depicting portraits of the 10 most famous ‘sons’ of Venice.
2. Going on a Mystery Tour
Venice is nearly an epitome of drama, intrigue and mystery. Her grand palazzi as well as the narrow alleys, the countless canals and dark squares evoke images of conspiracies, murder and mayhem, of bodies floating in the Laguna and masked men and women hurrying along under cover of darkness. To my delight, I saw a Mystery Tour on foot advertised, the tour guide being an actor in period costume. Hearing the tales of the past, finding Casanova’s hiding places and much more is an adventure I’d love to experience. The tour will lead into hidden corners of Venice a visitor might never find on his own.
In 1291, when glass making already had a tradition in the city of Venice, the Venetian Republic ordered all glass blowers to move to the island of Murano for fear of fire to the many wooden houses from the furnaces. That’s when the history of Murano glass really began. The artists invented the finest methods to produce outstanding objects made from glass, incrusted with gold thread, multi colored, imitating jewels and incorporating enamel. Their craft was passed on over the centuries and to this day, Murano glass is appreciated and collected all over the world.
I want to see the glass museum in the Palazzo Giustinian and to watch the glass blowers in fascination as they produce the most delicate vases, flowers and chandeliers out of a red hot lump of glass.
4. Rialto bridge and market
The Rialto bridge is one of the architectural icons of the City of Venice. The current stone structure, consisting of two ramps leading to a portico in the middle, dates from 1591. There were a few predecessors to the current bridge, the first a floating bridge and the others wooden bridges which burnt down. The importance of the bridge increased with the expansion of the Rialto market, a paradise of the freshest fruit, meat, fish and vegetables and a place no self respecting Venetian housewife will ever pass by when shopping for the ingredients of the daily meals.
Having the chance of living in Venice for a month in autumn/winter, when the summer tourist hordes are gone and the locals have reclaimed their city, is a unique experience to live, shop and cook like a Venetian. I want to rub shoulders with the haggling shoppers and to taste the samples, proffered by the vociferous vendors. Then I want to cross over the Rialto bridge with my string bag full of the freshest delicacies and enjoy the splendid view of the palaces lining the Grand Canal. And along the way, I might make a few more purchases at the shops and stalls which line the bridge.
5. Enjoying an opera at La Fenice
I love opera. The music, the drama, the costumes and I can’t think of a better venue that Venice’s opera house: La Fenice. Not least, because the building itself has plenty of drama in its past. Again, fire was the culprit. Twice the opera house burnt down and then, in 1996, disaster struck again. This time it was arson, two electricians deliberately caused the fire because their company was facing heavy fines over the delay in construction work they were carrying out on the building. They went to prison and yet, again, La Fenice rose from the ashes to open with La Traviata in 2004.
Using old plans and photigrphas, the opera was rebuilt in the original style, which pleased many but annoyed a few who thought Venice should have used her spirit of self invention and design a totally new opera house. Many famous names of the world of opera , in particular that of Verdi are connected with La Fenice and I’d love to dress up and enjoy an evening of Italian Opera at its best.
Apart from my five favorite spots there are of course St. Mark’s Squre, the Palace of the Doge, the length of the Grand Canal, a ride with a Gondola, a visit to the cemeteries of Burano and much much more to see and do in Venice. A month will fly by like a day.