Pocket Pilot Map
Make sure that you have a good map of venice with all of the tiny streets and squares listed on the map. Pocket Pilot is a laminated map that was excellent and very helpful for finding my way around. It also has travel tips, things to do, and a lot of information on sights to see, transportation etc. I would highly recommend buying it. I had only it, no tour book or anything, and it was all that I needed.
Venezia – a city built on water - today
Consequently, there are no cars in Venezia. Well, there are, but only up to Piazzale Roma, where the road coming from terra firma (Mestre etc) ends and where busses and cars have to stop. All the traffic from here on is transferred onto the water. We, tourists and locals, are transported by vaporettos, gondolas or the expensive and unecological operating taxi boats. Post and parcels are being transported by boats, food is transported in boats, and any goods you can imagine are transported on the different boats. It is very much exciting to sit at one of the fondamentas or canales and watch the boats go by with their different loads. If you watch long enough, you can see how immense the variety of boats is, designed or built for the needs of their “service”.
The boat on photo 1 is most probably one that transports building material. It was on its way to Isola San Michele, where the burial grounds are actually expanded. So this needs to be quite big and broad to be able to load up many bags of construction material.
Whenever canales need to be cleaned, or houses to be renovated or build, a crane is needed. Now at home or anywhere else on terra firma (solid ground), the crane is driven by truck in front of whereever it needs to operate. In Venezia, a special boat needs to transport them; photo 2. And given the weight of these cranes, the boats must be really solid ones. They looked like mixture between ferry and aircraft carrier (well, a small aircraft that would be). I was always amazed to see these boats navigating around. Given the weight and the height of the crane, the captains must have enormous skills. But then again this is Venezia, the people are so much used to live with the water. The more “small” goods, like flowers (photo 3) or logs (photo 4), can easily be transported in small boats - to deliver directly in front of the house. Well, if the house is situated at the water. But this logboat also had a mini-crane to lift up the logs.
And last but not least the garbage. Venezia is very much advanced when it comes to garbage “management”. Well, it has to, given the loads of us tourists that invade the city daily. Each household places the garbage bags outside at the doors. The garbage man comes in the morning and puts the bags and the ones of the countless bins into his wheel cart (photo 5). The photo is a bit dark, but it shows the cart, which has only 2 wheels. This is to make it easier to move over the countless bridges on the way. The cart is then emptied into the boat, again with a help of a small crane. During my early morning wanderings through the city I did see this procedure at several spots, so there is a well functioning system and specific garbage boat stops behind that. For the friends of Nobby I should add that the boat owner also had a friend travelling with him, you’ll see him if you look close at the boat’s bow.
From the previous photo, I moved to the other side of St. Mark's Square & watching these 2 music bands, each from 2 different restaurants, rivalling each other who could attract the most passers-by !
it was really nice especially the violinists from both bands who played all the songs I know from Sarah Brightman, Andrew Llyod Webber, Russel Watson, Andrea Bocelli etc. & some classical pieces that I didn't know the names but all familiar to me...
We, the passers-by moved to one restaurant & listened to one band then, when the band stopped playing, the other band from the other side, would start to play & vice-versa. They also doing some feats on their violins like playing their violins with their teeth & people would laugh & clapped our hands.
Watching them serenading us, is one of my best experiences in Venice with some lovers kissing, gypsies selling flowers (although I had to watch my empty wallet if they were walking behind me).
The photo taken on the left was the band that won according to my judgement.
A quiet street
Hard to believe you are in the centre of Venice when you walk here. A quiet street, the laundry is hanging outside, the flowers in the windowsills... no one there, except for some pigeons on the rooftops.
Christmas Markets - San Stefano
This annual market, known as 'Natale in Laguna' was held from December 1st to Dec 23rd in 2007 1030 - 1930 daily. Stallholders are vetted by the Craftsman's and Tradesman's Association to ensure goods are of a high quality.
This market closes at 19.30, and I'm afraid that I got there as most of the stalls had closed. I did manage to buy a mulled wine though, and enjoyed the hot and spicy drink, whilst viewing the few stalls that were in the process of closing. Many of the market stalls are housed in wooden Tyrolean style huts.
There are also Christmas markets in Mestre and Murano.
Murano also had large glass decorations at various sites on the island - check my Murano page for some photos of these.
Throughout the Veneto region, there was a programme of events from November 17th 2007 to Jan 6th 2008, (when Italian children receive their gifts from Befania, the witch). I picked up a booklet 'Winter in Venice' or 'Inverno Veneziano', from the tourist info desk at the airport, listing the concerts, chocolate tastings, markets, etc. www.turismovenezia.it for more info. I'm presuming this will be an annual event.
Campo Santo Stefano, San Marco, Venice
Cross the bridge to the San Marco side, and head forwards