For those who missed and/or slept through their wake-up call, a second was provided by a local cathedral; at 7:45 this morning, the bells rang out 68 times, ensuring we were all awake and ready for the day! However, we didn’t mind at all… We opened our curtains to reveal a beautiful blue sky and warm sun rays, a much-appreciated sight and feeling after many dreary days of rain!
After another generous display of delicious pastries, we departed for a tour of Venice with our personal guide, Pam. She gave us an inside look at the city, winding us through the maze of streets that make up Venice. We were warned not to stray far, as we were sure to get lost. But don’t worry- we were all provided with maps before leaving the hotel, and at this point, we’re map-reading and navigational pros!
Our tour led us through the beautiful St. Mark’s Basilica. The sunshine worked in our favor- because of the fragility of the works of art inside, photography and light (save for an hour of halogen light a day) are not allowed, so on cloudy days, the mosaics are not even visible. However, we were fortunate enough to have a clear view, and took many mental pictures!
Following the basilica, we visited a Venetian blown glass facility, and even got a demonstration from a local artist who has been practicing the art for over 15 years! Sadly, glass blowing is a dying art. There are currently only 14 artists who are capable of recreating classic Venetian blown glass. Because of the beauty of this work, many artists try to recreate lower quality pieces, and still claim them to be hand blown, so we unfortunately were not allowed to take any pictures of these stunning pieces.
After our city tour, we were given time to explore the city before meeting at the hotel for a short class before leaving for dinner! Many of us spent time shopping, dining in local restaurants and cafes on pizza and gelato, taking leisurely gondola rides through Venice’s waterways, and touring local landmarks including the Torre dell’Orologio (a beautiful leaning clock tower overlooking the entire city) and the Rialto bridge, the most famous bridge in Venice, located at the narrowest point of the Grand Canal.
As sad as we are to be leaving Italy, we are looking forward to continuing our venture through Europe as we travel north into Austria and Germany! Ciao ciao!
Ashley and Bridget