Venice had been on my "Bucket List" for so long I thought it was never ever going to happen. Then my mom went there, took one look and said "Cat needs to see this!" Over the next several blogs I'm going to "share" Venice with you. It is one of the most amazing places that I have ever been and one I hope to see again someday. (don't forget to click on the smaller photos to see the full sized version!)With Go Ahead Tours you are placed into some really wonderful hotels. At first I was sort of bummed that we were not staying on the Grand Canal but once we got to the hotel I figured out the "why" of our location which was that it's not a long walk to the tourist areas but it gave us time to see the beauty in this area as well. This was the dock to our neighborhood and the first place where we entered the city.
We were staying in the Jewish Quarter. This is where the word "Ghetto" comes from. It doesn't mean anything derogatory in Italian. It just means a highly populated part of the city by one group of people. It became a derogatory term as the ghetto's became where the poorer populations lived. We arrived after the afternoon break had begun so the neighborhood was almost deserted as it's people moved indoors for the break.
Our hotel had a very plain front so we had no idea what to expect. I had done some research and found that it not only use to be where gondolas were made but also a monastery at one time. In fact, the rooms were very sparsely decorated and yet some of the most comfortable and well appointed rooms of our trip!
The view from the hotel door was of one of the 409 bridges that connect the islands of Venice. Beautiful view indeed!
We decided to go for a walk and look for food. The only restaurant that would let us order at that time of day also took full advantage of the fact that we were starving and willing to pay high prices for our food. While the food was great it was not the best way to start off in the city. Just a warning for you.
After lunch we decided to walk to the Grand Canal. We walked through the main square where we saw this building. I found out later that it was a nursing home that was turned into the neighborhood library.
I loved the highly ornate details This wasn't any special building, just housing, but the door is just so ornate it fascinated me.
We took a few moments to rest as we entered a shopping section near the Grand Canal and I noticed these windows. We spend tons of money trying to achieve the look that centuries has made a natural part of Venice.
We entered one shop and I was simply floored by the Venetian Glass chandeliers! The entire ceiling was covered with chandeliers of all shapes and colors so this is just one of the many. Surprisingly they are not the thousands of dollars to buy that you would think. This one was $300 euros which is about $425 US dollars. Unfortunately it costs about the same to ship it to the US. Am I wrong to think $850 is an acceptable amount for a chandelier like this?
But it was the masks that took my imagination for a ride! These amazing works of art start at $1 euro for a mini one up to thousands of dollars for the more complicated varieties. I could have easily bought a really beautiful one for about $25 US. If I could only have worked out a way to get it home. The next visit I'm going to find out where the DHL shop is and pack a box in my suitcase so I can bring one home with me!
I had to share this photo because of the animal masks on the bottom shelf. Yes, the gold masks are divinely gorgeous and they are what drew me to the glass, but it was the animals that kept me staring with a combination of horror and comedy!
The bottom mask is the one I'd hang in my home but it was the top mask I was sure I would wear if I were able to ever attend the Carnival which is during the early part of February and ends with the beginning of Lent.
Of all the pieces of mask artwork this one captured my heart. Unfortunately it was also over $100 euros so far out of my budget.
While shopping we watched this artist work, captivated by his blue eyes. But it wasn't until the young Jewish man stopped to admire the work with his arms laden with shopping bags that the scene took on a decidedly Venetian flavor. Wonderful character in one photo.
Outdoor cafes are everywhere since the inside of the buildings are very small. There is some inside seating but the majority is outside under umbrellas or awnings.
Finally, the Grand Canal. This is literally my first view of it. Took my breath away and I began to cry. I hear that this is not an unusual reaction to this view.
See the Grand Canal...CHECK! One of the most amazing views of my lifetime to date. I hope, someday, to return with my husband and explore some favorite sights again and discover new ones but this will also be his first view of the Grand Canal. The first part of this amazing city to share with him. Stunning!
This weekend I'll share with you another section of the city so I hope you can join us here again then.