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Italy - France Journal
June 18 to July 4, 1998

Day Nine: Friday, June 26, 1998

A wonderful piece of world. Rather itself a world.
- John Ruskin

We caught an early train for Venice, having purchased our tickets the previous day when we were at the train station. We sat across from a nice woman and her 15-year-old daughter from Portland, Oregon, who were traveling through Italy.

All the pictures of Venice you see on TV and in books cannot prepare you for seeing the city in person. It is like a fairy tale and, surely, not like any other place on earth. It is impossible to follow a map, and who would want to? Some of the streets are only wide enough for one person to pass at a time. There are flowers hanging from every window box and, of course, water everywhere. We boarded the vaporetto (public boat) for a 30-minute ride to our stop, Santa Maria del Giglio, and a three-minute walk to our hotel, Hotel Torino. Our room was the biggest and prettiest yet, with plenty of seating, a big bed and very elaborate Venetian-style furniture and decorations. The Murano glass chandelier was easily four to five times larger than our dining room chandelier at home, but it looked perfect hanging from the 20-foot ceiling. Our bathroom was interesting, though. At first glance, it appeared we had a sink, toilet, and bidet only. But upon closer inspection, we realized that there was a drain in the middle of the floor and a showerhead on the wall. Not only do you get clean, but everything else in the room gets a shower, too.

We made the five-minute walk to St. Mark's Square, the heart of Venice and the prettiest square we've seen. At one side is the Duomo, the only cathedral we encountered that we didn't enter, the Doge's Palace and the campanile (bell tower). Except for the heat, humidity, pigeon poop and the crowds, this is the most enchanting place on earth. We rode the lift to the top of the bell tower and enjoyed a great view of the rooftops of Venice and the surrounding islands. We then walked along the water in front of St. Mark's Square, stopping occasionally at one of the vast number of shops that line the waterfront. They all have the same assortment of Murano glass, masks, T-shirts, books and dolls. We stopped for dinner at Trattoria alla Rivetta and enjoyed mussels a la muniere, cuttlefish, salad and spinach. The tiramisu (Venice's specialty) was excellent. They seem to drink less wine and more beer in Venice.

View from the Bell Tower, Venice

View from the Bell Tower, Venice

A "roadway" in Venice

St. Mark's Square taken toward the Basilica and Bell Tower, Venice