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Sunday, May 20, 2007

SERENISSIMA

SERENISSIMA, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, or so she s once known...
We are here, in this most amazing floating city, and I,ll take you on an adventure through the sestieres (neighbourhoods) of Venezia.

May 18, our first morning here. When we stepped outside this morning at 6 a.m. for a pre'breakfast stroll, it was thelight in the piazza )or campo as most small piazzas are called here) that first struck me '' the way it filters through the narrow passagewasy (some only an arms width= At the end of a shadowy alley a bright shaft of daylight appears and you step out of the shadows into the sunlight.

We were awake by 3 a.m. after our excellent flights, and after getting settled in our small, tidy hotle Orion, we were too excited to do anything but start exploring immediately. I got tears in my eyes thefirst glimpse of Venice, can hardly believe I am actually here. Venice is very small, from the air you can see it is merely a cluster of islands in a lagoon, intersepted by canals. The streets are a narrow maze that arenàt too difficult to navigate but easy to get lost in. Getting lost in Venice is half the fun!

Venice became a popular tourist destination back during the 4thCrusade and you still get the feeling youàre a knight jousting for position in the swarming crowds. So weve discovered the best time to see the city is before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m.

Our first morning here we were up a 6 and there was nary a tourist in San Marco Piazza, the main square of the city. We wandered about enjoying the freedom to stand on the Bridge of Sighs alone, and walk along the Riva without being jostled or trampled by themobs. Later we set off walking to find the ferry depot (unsuccessfully) so we could verify our tickets to Greece next week. Ended up after that fruitless search taking the vaporetto back to the Acadamia. The vaporetta are the water buses that ply Veniceàs canals along with the gondolas and other crafts such as power boats and water taxis. We bought a tree day pass that allows us to hop on and off at will.

We ended up touring the Acadmia Gallery, awe struck by the paintings by Georgioni, Carpaccio, Bellini, Veronese, Titian and we were especially thrilled by the Tintorettos. Then we went back to San Marco which had been transferred into a tourist bazaar with souvenier kiosks and artists and kazillions of people jamming the Riva. We retreated too our hotle for a long snooze, then wen tout for an evening stroll, intending to catch the vaporetto to the ghetto but opted instead to sit at a water'side cafe and have a good dinner of lasagne and salad with a bottle of excellent red wine, all reasonabl priced for this rather epxensive city.

Tomorrow we are off on a three island boat cruise, early a.mn. and will try again for the ghetto after we return. On a rating from 1 to 10 for Venice how would I rate it_ Definitely a 10. Itàs truly a wonder, amazing, and in spite of the reputation that its sinkinginto the sea, it seems vry much afloat!

NEXT An island cruise

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