The Duodo Palace literally shares an alley with the Theatro de Fenice. (We had no idea this building was such an important part of musical history. For instance, La Bohème premiered there in 1897, Rigoletto premiered in 1851 and the first performance on La Traviata was here on 6 March 1853. These were the original premiers! That is serious musical history, people.) We just learned that eventually, after getting lost over and over, the only way to get directions back to the hotel was to ask where the Theatre was, and then the locals would give detailed, turn-by-turn instructions.
Our room was tiny, covered in beige and gold fleur-de-lis wallpaper, with an enormous marble bathroom and a microscopic wooden closet. The carpet was thick and soft, and the heat was wonderful in the room: perfect for frozen southerners, and we never had to adjust it, which is rare for us.
This was the painting over our desk:
That first night, when we finally opened the door to our tiny but immaculate room on the fourth floor after 1am, we dropped our massive bags, fell into the chairs and stared at each other, exhausted. We could not possibly summon the energy to actually go somewhere and eat. So Dave produced a feast which I am convinced saved our very souls that night: yes, it was the bottle of Bailey's Orange Truffel liquor accompanied by a side order of hazelnut Toffefays, the worlds simplest meal:
We slept like babies and recovered our strength the following morning, when bells (yes! real bells! soft and repetitive and clearly coming from more than one church, very nearby) lulled us awake, and we managed to bundle into warm socks and coats and follow the red carpeted stairways down four flights to the breakfast buffet (croissant, marmalade, tinned fruit and juice but fresh pots of tea and cappachinos.) Vivaldi softly in the background, of course, and plush velvet chairs. Ah, Venice, as they say in the movies.
There were record-setting floods in Venice this year, and yes, there were neighborhoods that were flooded everyday. The Venetians merely placed wooden ramps over the submerged areas and continued on with their lives. You think a city that has catered to tourists for 1,000 years gets worried about a little extra water? Salute! Get your tall boots on and let's go find something to eat.
It took us most of the first day to get our bearings. Dave used a map at first, then abandoned that and went for a compass, so we would find what we wanted on the map, figure out where it was from the Teatro la Fenice (north or west or what) and then wander using the sun and the compass until we found our way. This proved surprisingly viable. But- always start with the Theatre. Memorize where this is! I mean it!
Saint Marks (San Marco) is a required first stop for everyone, even when it floods:
Around the corner from our hotel:
Where can we get lunch? Oooh, hot mushroom pizza, with crunchy crust so thin it crackles:
But, where is Venchi, il cioccolato dal 1878? at Calle dei Fabbri 989 Sestiere San Marco, of course!
At the basillica
At the gondola launch:
The vendor kiosks on the waterfront:
In the small canals, and in the lagoon:
So- now - HOW do we get back to the hotel? Didn't we go over this before??
Ah, right. Got it. Oh, the window shopping here is amazing:
Ok, one last picture, taken on a bridge, before it gets too cold to walk any more:
And then, it was time to go aboard the Crown Princess: