Europe 2019

October 10, 2019 Venezia

  • That’s “veneatzia” for you foreigners. The bus and train systems are so good here we decided to catch the train to Venice for the day.

Venice is truely a wonder of the world. It is an amazing place for a number of reasons.

It started because the locals got tired of being ransacked by the hordes from the east. So they moved out into the lagoon. By putting wooden posts into the lagoon they were able to create a village on stilts that evolved into Venice.

In its heyday Venice influence stretched across the Mediterranean. They had a formidable navy and trading ouposts as far south as Crete. It is said that they would show visiting dignitaries their ship building yard where they could complete a war ship in one day. At its height Venice had more wealth than a hundred Rockefellers.

Today Venice is mostly another giant shopping mall for high-end corporations but that is somewhat appropriate because Venice has always been a place of business. It had a unique government for the times. It had a council of businessmen who elected a president called the Doge who could be removed if he did not do the job. The Doge’s palace off the Piazza San Marco is beautiful.

The Venetian businessmen knew that every great city needed the remains of a Saint to really get on the map. So they did what any big modern corporation does when they need an important marketing tool. They stole it. “It” being the remains of Saint Mark which were lying in Alexandria.

The Basilica of San Marco is ornate and one of the most interesting aspects for me are the frescoes which were not painted but done in glass mosaics which means they are as vibrant today as when they were created.

Although Venice has a bit of a Disneyland feeling with the gondoliers plying their trade there is a fundamental difference–the gondolas are real handmade works of art that are handed down from father to son.

The details are exquisite and each boat costs about $30,000 to make.

The best way to see Venice is to get off the beaten path, away from the cruiseship hordes, and get lost in the narrow passages of Venice.


Tomorrow, we are back on the bikes.

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