Venice: Italian Magic on the Adriatic
Barbara Radcliffe Rogers
Exploring the side canals of Venice
Even before you've crossed the lagoon and set foot on the uneven stones of
To escape this sense of déjà vu and discover your own personal
Along with the obvious activities -- St. Mark's, a ride along the
ST. MARK'S -- MORE IS BETTER
Kids usually don't do churches with great enthusiasm, but take them to St. Mark's. There's enough cool stuff inside to keep their attention. Walls, domes and columns are covered in mosaics -- a big picture version of the Bible painted of tiny glass bits that reflect the light at different angles to bring the pictures to life. Beyond the columns in the wing nearest the Doge's Palace, our kids found the picture story of St. Mark's missing bones, hidden then lost for centuries. Tired of obscurity, the story goes, St. Mark thrust his arm through a wall to signal his hiding place -- can your kids find the mosaic of the arm?
Don't miss the altar behind the main one, all gold and encrusted with 3,000 precious stones, said to be the most valuable altar in the world. Few visitors know that they can ask permission to descend into the impressive 11th-century crypt below the main altar.
Remember the horses that overlook Piazza San Marco from above the basilica's doors? They are copies, but you can climb up to see the originals, then go outside onto the loggia to get a horse's-eye view of the entire piazza and a straight-on look at the famous clock tower, where two Moors strike the bells.
SEEING THE SIGHTS
Our favorite getaway is to cross
San Polo leads on into Cannaregio and the Venetians' favorite little church. Santa Maria dei Miracoli was built in 1481-89, with all the magnificence of a cathedral, but on a very intimate scale. This is one kids will like; its interior walls are geometric patterns of pink, green and white inlaid marble.
You may not want to tour all three of the grand palaces -- Ca' d'Oro, Ca' Pesaro and Ca' Rezzonico -- but you should see at least one. We suggest the latter, for its view of 18th-century Venetian life. Inside are paintings by all the greats, a complete apothecary, rooms exploring women's life in noble families and a ballroom that stretches from one side of the grand palazzo to the other.
Wander from San Polo to
Just off the square is a barge stacked with fruit and vegetables -- a little floating grocery store. How many other unusual boats can your kids find? Who can find the coolest one? Our youngest won when she spotted a brown UPS boat loading as our vaporetto passed the docks. When there is a funeral, the hearse that carries the casket to the cemetery island is a specially built gondola.
If you're in
The most romantic lodging in town is in the lusciously decorated rooms of Ca'
Venice Beyond St. Mark's
Margaret M. Johnson
Venice is today more noted for its constant throng of tourists -- more than 12 million annually -- who come to see its spectacular churches, elaborate-but-faded palazzos, incomparable art, and of course, the maze of alleys, canals, and bridges that link the little islands that make up the city as a whole.
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(c) 2009 Travel Muse Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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