Sunday, May 17, 2009

What is it?

What is it that makes one place take on the ambiance to overwhelm us and another to make us shrug and move on?

We arrived in Venice and I was at once smiling and feeling light and, yes, even without my husband here, romantic.  I don't know what it is as the place is a mecca for shoppers with shop after shop after shop packed with people and the largest population of pigeons I have ever experienced!  There are so many shops here that it is difficult to see the historical sights and buildings.  Maybe it is just the appearance of a city so large surrounded by and sitting on water and not land!  The weather is great, the sun is out and the sea is calm. 

Venice has the ability to grab you and astound.  If the town of Bonacca on the island of Guanaja says they are called the Venice of the Caribbean, then they have a lot to learn about Venice.  The majestic look of Venice, its waterways, its architecture and infrastructure make the use of that description a joke.  Bonacca has a few waterways running through the town which, after years of misuse, are finally clean but in no way can you call Bonacca the "Venice of the Caribbean" just because some water runs through it!  Sorry, they have an extremely long way to go to turn the heads of any tourist!

Getting back to the subject, it is nice to know that I am finishing my tour of Germany and Italy with my last two days in Venice.

From the beautiful hotel that I am housed in to the beautiful church in San Marco square and the shops filled with blown glass, lace, leather and face masks, I am met with beauty!  I have yet to find out why face masks are being displayed and sold as such popular items and in such quantity. Tomorrow I am sure my guide will explain this to me.  I know that in years past, Venice was an entertaining city and held many "masked" balls.  I don't know if this is why they are so prevalent here, but I will find out.  It may have something to do with the Carnival held in Venice every year, but to have them for sale all year round!  Astounding.

In San Marco Square, there is a beautiful Zodiac-type clock showing the phases of the moon and sign and all the signs of the zodiac back lit by a deep azure blue color.  Tomorrow I will learn the idea and purpose behind this.

Attention to detail runs even to the tower in the San Marco Square where for Euro. 8 apiece, we went to the top in a "lift" to get a view of the city.  Up in the tower are 4 large bells and each is supported by large wooden beams which are beautifully carved.  There is a winding metal staircase which runs further up into the tower but is not accessible by the public.  This staircase, too, is also very ornate.  Now why people would take such pains to decorate items that, for the most part during their use, would never be seen by the public is puzzling.  The fact remains, there they were pieces of art and they are beautiful.

On a doorway, there were unusual door ornaments:

There was a building that I am sure must have some major purpose unknown to me at the time, I photographed it for its beautiful  fa├žade. 


Then, there are the pigeons.  I never knew about the famous pigeons of San Marco Square until I read about it the other night when I was checking out blogs on Venice.  Well, there I was, in the midst of the largest flock of pigeons I had ever seen, all strutting around like they owned the place (and they do) waiting for handouts.  And the people oblige them.  The minute food in the form of bread crumbs come out, they flock to the giver landing on his or her head, arms, hands and shoulders.  Evidently they have no fear since they have been fed by hand for so long and unmolested.  Having had birds for years I know what happens when you hold a bird for too long - pigeon poop!  Apparently people outweigh that fact with the fun of watching the birds and holding them.  This photo only shows a small amount of the birds gathered in the square!

There are buildings, even with paint peeling and their top surfaces crumbing, that still maintain a certain beauty.  I guess one would call it the "rustic" look and in a city of antiquity, this is what you want, not the new and modern. 

Everywhere one sees, in all of Italy, there are ruins and antiquity that tell the story of the past.  In most places the antiquity is kept and preserved by restoration and rules guiding this restoration are strict and adhered to.  The only other place I can compare it to is in New Orleans where any building that is done in the French Quarter is strictly followed by special laws meant to preserve the ambiance of the area. In Europe, these laws are even stricter and the end result is to present the past to the people in the best condition possible.

Finally, we have all seen photos of the famous gondolas of Venice, but have you ever seen one of the inside of the boat?  Well, here is your opportunity:

This was parked outside my hotel winow.  And, with that, I will close.

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