Vinezia

Sorry for the delay.  Left my input device in the car in the Venice parking lot, so I did not get access to it until now, which is in Ravenna.

WP_20140903_001First, let me tell you about how we got to Venice.  Obviously, that picture is not Venice.  It’s a high mountain pass.  When we left Ortisei we had the option of backtracking to the Autostrade or driving through the Dolomites.  I opted for the mountainous route, not necessarily the popular choice.

It was dicey enough driving up a twisting one-lane road with tour buses coming in the opposite direction, but when we found ourselves on a road the number of which did not match the sketchy directions I’d gotten from Google, tensions started to rise.

With a reinforcing opinion from one innkeeper along the way, we made it out of the mountains on what was one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven, even though it was cloudy most of the way.  The last stretch was through a gorge inhabited by eagle owls (we did not see).

Rebecca and Helga on the Vaperetto.

Rebecca and Helga on the Vaperetto.

Venice turned out to be enchanting, probably because we bought passes for the water bus for the duration of our stay.  On our first ride we took the main Vaporetto to the end of the line, expecting to stay on and head back the other way.  But they made us get off, so we took the next boat, which turned out to be going in the wrong direction.  We got a nice tour of the other side of the islands we would otherwise have missed.

We had a very nice apartment.WP_20140903_004  It was just off one of the main drags, but it was isolated.  Out its windows was a canal.  It had a courtyard and a “bus stop” and grocery store nearby.  It was also near the casino where I dropped 10 Euros on the blackjack table in about two minutes.

Perhaps the weirdest thing occurred during our tour of San Marco and the Doge’s palace.  We exchanged background info with a couple who turned out to be from Atlanta.  Rebecca thought they looked “arty” so I asked if they knew of Eyedrum.  Turned out Martha and Jay are friends of my sister Priscilla.

Rialto Bridge

Rialto Bridge

We drove from Venice to Ravenna, where we uncharacteristically did not have a room reserved.  Our first impressions of the city were not particularly good.  We considered just blowing the joint, but wound up renting an apartment for the night from a local hotel.  Let’s just say the ambiance was not to our usual expectations.

Once we got unpacked and were able to walk into the old town, however, we were well rewarded for our perseverance.  The town was historically located at the end of Rome.  The Basilica di San Vitale is over 1500 years old, and features startlingly well-preserved mosaics above its sanctuary. There is a nearby baptistery with mosaics nearly as old.

Ancient mosaic dome in Ravenna.

Ancient mosaic dome in Ravenna.

We completed the day with dinner at an unlikely near restaurant, Ca’ Rossa.  Even though we’d had pizza and pasta ever night we’d been in Italy, the food and atmosphere were superb.  Best meal yet.

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