Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gondola and Mask of Venice

Around Europe in many different cultures - Part 2 Venice

As a city that captured many famous writers’ imaginations, Venice is the only city in world built entirely on water. Until the 1980s the city was sinking, efforts have been made since then to restore this unique romantic place.
Photo by Fototeca ENIT (Italy Tourism Board)

To get the most of Venice, you need to check its festivals calendar. Venice held one of the most notable international film festivals in the world every year in late August or early September. Screenings take place in the historic Palazzo del Cinema on the Lungomare Marconi. Another famous Venetian festival is the Carnival of Venice, where everyone is wearing masks such as those featured in the movie Eyes Wide Shut. The annual festival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday – around February and March. The mask was historically worn to hide any form of identity and social class differences. Nowadays, a jury of international costume and fashion designers annually votes for "La Maschera piu bella", the best masked costume of the year.

The gondola has always been part of most post-card pictures of Venice. It looks romantic and personalised, however it is not cheap – a 40-minute ride is about 80 Euros. So if you know where you want to go – most travel writers suggest that you research well and decide which places you most want to see – the best way to get around is either the vaporetto (water bus) or the traghetto (gondola ferry). A ride by across the Grand Canal is less than one Euro. According to Durant Imboden (www.veniceforvisitors.com), you can sample every one of the traghetto routes along the canal for three euros.

If you do not have the whole week to see Venice, then the must seen place is Piazza San Marco where you can visit Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica), the Museo Correr (also known as "The Museum of the City and Civilization of Venice"), and the clock tower that has been ringing out the hours since 1499. The archway beneath the clock opens onto the Mercerie, a series of alleys where you can buy traditional souvenirs such as marbled papers, Murano glass, and carnival masks.

Walk further from the Mercerie and you will find the famous Rialto Bridge. Crossing the Grand Canal, you can walk among the alleys of the Rialto to see Venice’s mercantile past. “What’s new on the Rialto?” said Antonio, a character in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – this described the popular Venetian pastime: gossiping.

Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace) is another Ventian landmark. The palace was the residence of the supreme authority of Venice (Doge of Venice) from the 9th century to the fall of Republic in 1797. When you walk around the palace, find the Bocca della Verita (the Mouth of Truth) sculpture. An ancient myth says that a liar's hand placed in the sculpture’s mouth will be bitten off.

If you have more time to explore outside Venice’s city centre, the island of Murano is famous to see the traditional Venetian glass-making, and the next island, Burano to see the colourful fishermen’s cottages.

For an unbias tips and articles about Venice, the Imbodens have a very good website: www.veniceforvisitors.com

No comments: