Today we planned a day of walking. Our plan was to take the vaporetto to the south end of the Grand Canal and then work our way back to the hotel along a walking tour. We had no problem with getting the correct vaporetto and we used an audio tour on our iPhones to get the highlights of the features along the way. Because we had lovely weather, we could sit at the very back of the boat, outdoors and see the sights on both sides. The vaporetto was not very busy. Due to a slight interruption to the vaporetto route due to the visit by the pope, we had to get off one stop early, but it made very little difference to us.
After disembarking, we walked to St. Mark’s Square. Originally, we had thought we should avoid the square because of the pope’s visit, but it was not crowded at the time we arrived. So we decided to follow the audio tour for the square. The tour had us stroll the inside perimeter and described monuments, the basilica exterior, and the statuary. It was very educational and entertaining. Afterwards, we strolled along the water’s edge of the lagoon and had a pleasant stop at a cafe for a caffe latte.
We decided to just wander in the Castello district for awhile, since we were on the wrong side of the canal for our original planned walking tour. It was fun to wander in the narrow alleyways and discover new squares (campo). After a little while, I suggested to Shawn that we should go to see La Fenice, an opera theatre that has burned down and been rebuilt several times. We could only view the exterior. We wandered a little longer and then decided to have some lunch at a cafe in Campo St. Stefano. We shared a seafood salad with smoked salmon, shrimp, and crab and a crepe with artichokes, cheese and prosciutto ham. Both were excellent.
During our afternoon wandering, we came to Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti. Today it had a display of glass art by Lino Tagliapietra who studied in both Venice and with Chihuily in Tacoma. As we looked at a piece in the front of the building, an English couple said we should go inside to see the display. So, we decided that the admission price was reasonable and we would have a look. We had not realized that the backside of the building was on the Grand Canal at that as we were wandering through the displays, the canal was being cleared of all boats and bridges cleared of pedestrians for the pope’s canal trip. The museum had opened some doors to the balconies and patrons were stepping out to watch the pope pass by. We decided to have some patience and hang out for a few minutes on a balcony with two Italian women. After a 15 minute wait, there was a procession of security boats, police boats, water taxis carrying a couple of cardinals and then the pope. These boats where followed by a gaggle of gondola type boats that could be rowed by 5 or 6 standing oarsmen. Each boat had rowers in color coordinated attire. What a colorful parade!
When we had completed our tour of the glass art, we crossed the bridge at the wooden bridge Ponte Accademia. We started along the route of our original walking tour. We started at Dogana da Mar (customs house) and walked along the walkway of the south shore of Venice proper at Canale della Giudecca. As with other aspects of Venice, I was saddened to see the extensive defacing of the walls by graffiti. Shawn was getting tired feet and losing interest in our walk. So, from Campo Barnaba, we went out to the canal and got a vaporetto back to the hotel to have an afternoon rest.
After some time spent resting our feet, we went across the bridge by the train station and had dinner at a restaurant with a table on the canal. We watched the boats traveling back and forth, including a few gondola as we enjoyed a pasta dinner. We shared spinach ravioli with a cream and gorgonzola cheese sauce and some lasagna. After our dinner, we walked through the Jewish ghetto and had a pastry and coffee at a pasterria.