Day 5 - On to Venice!
We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at the hotel then met our group in front of the San Stae Church for an art and history tour with a local guide named Elizabeth (Elisabetta). She explained in detail how the buildings were constructed, the history of many of the structures and why Venice floods so easily. It’s caused by a combination of factors. A full moon, a low pressure system coinciding with high tides and strong Sirocco winds blowing from the south east driving water into the lagoon. The rising sea level around Venice has also been accelerated by climate change. Sadly, many of the places we visited in Venice are now flooded. She taught us how to navigate in the city and she led us on an amazing tour of Saint Mark’s Basilica. Next, we visited the woodworking shop of a local master who hand crafts gondola oars and forculas (oar posts). The forculas are actually museum quality works of art. He is only one of three left in Venice. We were free to wander on our own for the rest of the afternoon and evening and were lost quite a few times but always managed to find our way thanks to the kindness of the locals and even some of the tourists. Our inability to speak Italian was never a problem throughout the trip. We are now motivated to learn Italian… a beautiful language.
We had another delicious Tyrolean breakfast and then it was time to leave this beautiful place. We both thought we could live here. The community seemed very tight-knit. As we drove away, we saw a group of men all dressed alike in their traditional Austrian clothing on their way to church. After a 5 hour bus ride, we arrived at a port in Venice where a vintage, wooden water taxi took us to our hotel. We were incredibly lucky to happen to be in Venice on the day of their annual boat regatta called The Regata Storica. While riding in the taxi, we were awestruck by the views of the buildings that lined the main canal. Their facades of exposed brick beneath decaying plaster were once covered with colorful frescos. It must have been beautiful to see. Our hotel was old and historic with heavy wooden doors and ornate metal gates. Donald led us on a walking tour and we didn’t see one car – how nice! We spent the afternoon in front of the The San Stae Church watching the parade of spectacularly decorated boats pass by us filled with enthusiastic crews in the main canal while we listened to an orchestra. They played a song that was incredibly beautiful called Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla (Chris Botti does an excellent version of this song on his Impressions album). We were both speechless. It was definitely a wow moment. We met for a group dinner at a lovely restaurant called Trattoria Alla Scala. I told the owner that he looked just like a friend of mine and he replied “Thank you”. After dinner, we walked to Saint Mark’s Square and took in the music played by 5-piece bands on stages outside each of the historic coffee houses/restaurants. Another wow moment. A perfect summer-like evening and the walk home was magical. From the mountainous terrain of the alps to a city with streets of water where boats are the only mode of transportation. Hard to believe we did all of this in one day!
Day 6 – Day two in Venice