Saturday, September 29th

View from hotel dining room

Our first full day in Venice started with a continental breakfast at the hotel. The hotel clerk provided us instructions as to the most direct route to La Fenice which involved taking a short ride on the gondola ferry across the Grand Canal.  This avoided the longer route over the Rialto bridge then backtracking.

We found the ferry and €2 apiece landed us on the other side where it was only a very short walk to La Fenice.

Susan at La Fenice

Like its namesake, the Phoenix, this beautiful old opera house has twice risen from the ashes.  It was first destroyed by fire in 1836.  The cause of that fire was a stove.  The opera house was rebuilt and reopened several years later.  In 1996 arson again destroyed La Fenice.  Once again it rose from the ashes and the beautifully rebuilt facility reopened in 2004.  This last rebuild restored it to much the same design as the original.

Teatro La Fenice … from the piazza

When we got there a long line-up that didn’t seem to be moving greeted us.  In fact for the first half hour it seemed that the only movement occurred when people got tired of waiting and left the line.  It turned out that the line was both for people purchasing performance tickets and for people (the majority of us) who just wanted to buy tickets for the self-guided tour.  When we arrived there was one woman dealing with one of the two clerks.  Eventually a third clerk came along and the line started to move a lot faster.  When we finally got our tickets the same lady was still there dealing with the first clerk on her ticket purchase.

La Fenice lobby

We obtained our audio guides and started snapping pictures in the main lobby while listening to the commentary.  Upon entering the main auditorium Susan was told there was no picture taking, despite the presence of others around us happily snapping away.  Apparently you are not allowed to take pictures unless you pay an extra fee (the hour we spent standing in line might have been a great opportunity to inform us of that).  Anyway it was back to the main desk to plunk down the €3 extra fee.  Now I too could happily snap away.

Main audience chamber at La Fenice

The interior of La Fenice is gorgeous.  The walls and ceilings are lined with plaster and paper mache “carvings” embossed with gold foil.

Mirror in royal box … La Fenice

The royal box is beautifully decorated and on each side of it is a mirror that reflects from the mirror on the other side.  The effect is the multiple reflections that seem to go on to infinity.  Outside the main auditorium are a number of other beautifully decorated rooms that serve as meeting rooms, the snack bar, and a small performance hall.  Our tour was well worth the wait and the confusion over taking pictures.  It was certainly one of our highlights of Venice.

From La Fenice we made our way to Piazza San Marco.

Susan at Piazza San Marco

This famous and beautiful square is dominated by the Doge’s palace at one end.  While we would have loved to have toured the Palazzo it wasn’t worth spending the rest of the afternoon in line.  We’ll just have to leave that one for our next trip to Venice.

Neil at Piazza San Marco

We wandered around the piazza and along the waterfront for a while then found a little pizzeria for lunch.  The pizza was great and a tremendous improvement over the meal we had endured last night.

Walking back to the Grand Canal we hopped on the vaporetto just to ride it for a while.  A few stops down were some public gardens so we hopped off for a look around.  Situated in the gardens near the water was a little restaurant that made a perfect stop to relax with a café latté.  As always there is something very relaxing about sitting in the open air watching the world go by while sipping a latté or espresso.

Catching the vaporetto going back up the canal we rode until we reached the San Silvestro stop by our hotel.  After that long (20 minute) boat ride it was time to stop at the bakery by our hotel for snack then at the restaurant across from it for a glass of wine.  Now refreshed we could make our way down the narrow lane to our hotel.

Susan at Vini da Gigio

For dinner we caught the vaporetto to Ca’ d’Oro and then a 2 minute walk brought us to “Vini da Gigio”, Helen and Keith’s favorite restaurant in Venice (also highly recommended by Fodors).  Once again their recommendation was bang on the mark as we had what was arguably one of the best dinners we have had in Italy.  I do have to say “one of the best” as it would be hard to pick the single best when including some of the excellent meals we have had in Tuscany. The restaurant is very homey and quite busy.  We were glad we had made reservations. It was moderately pricy but well worth it and a perfect ending to our full day in Venice.


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