Colour me Pastel
Day 6 (Friday) – We take the shuttle boat from Lido back to Venice in the morning and return to St. Mark’s. Next we visit The Doges Palace, or Palazzo Ducale, where the Doge resided and ruled the Venetian empire from AD 750 to 1790 give or take a few years.
“For some thousand years, the chief magistrate and leader of the Most Serene Republic of Venice was styled the Doge, a rare but not unique Italian title derived from the Latin Dux, as the major Italian parallel Duce and the English Duke. Doges of Venice were elected for life by the city-state’s aristocracy.”
It is from the Doges Prison that the legendary Casanova made his escape. He was not only reputed to be a great lover but some also claim he invented tiramisu – to provide him with energy. The meaning of tiramisu is “pick me up” although others give it a more interesting sexual connotation.
During our visit of the Prison, Zad could not keep himself from wailing “Help, Help Me” through the bars of the windows at the puzzled tourists outside on the square.
We also get to cross the “Bridge of Sighs” from within the Doges Palace.
“The name “Bridge of Sighs” was invented in the 19th Century, when Lord Byron helped to popularize the belief that the bridge’s name was inspired by the sighs of condemned prisoners as they were led through it to the executioner. (In reality, the days of inquisitions and summary executions were over by the time the bridge was built, and the cells under the palace roof were occupied mostly by small-time criminals.)”
I had been hesitant to visit the Doges Palace – a tourist trap, or so I thought incorrectly – but I’m very glad I did. The art is just extraordinary and there is an interesting armoury (swords, daggers, suits of armour, crossbows, firearms, and torture devices). Not to forget a fascinating collection of chastity belts.
The morning and afternoon are spent sightseeing Venice. We return to the Vecchia Murano Glass Factory to buy a lovely vase (it ain’t cheap) – we had bought a small glass dolphin there yesterday.
In the evening, another boat takes us to the exquisitely picturesque Island of Burano. Incredible for the beauty of its coloured houses. Tradition has it that fishermen painted their houses bright, contrasting colours to identify them on the way home in the misty waters. Their wives say it is so that they can find their way home after returning drunk from the tavern.
Burano is a poor community. Air conditioning is a luxury few can afford here, and with this heat it is common to see the villagers leave all windows and doors open in the evening to get some breeze.
Speaking of AC, we are told that in many of the Hotels in Italy the definition of air conditioning simply means the temperature in the building should be kept one degree cooler than outside.
So if it is 33C (92F) outdoors the Hotel could maintain your room at a breezy 32C (90F) – thankfully we don’t get to stay in hotels with that kind of policy on this trip.
We dine very well at the Trattoria da Romano and return to the Lido on the same boat which brought us to Burano.
Italy defeats the Ukraine 3-0 and once more the Italians go crazy – driving and honking their horns, scooters revving their engines, late into the night.
On to Tuscany – andiamo!