The Nagasawa family trip to Italy and France: June 12 - 30, 2008
(the links are the days in purple; click on them to see pictures)
June 16, 2008:
We arrived yesterday at a camp site across the lagoon from Venice. We ate sandwiches for dinner. This morning we got on a boat that dropped us off there.
Venice is nice and quiet in the morning. We stopped into a cafe to eat croissants with marmelade and a cafe au lait. It started as the island of Rialto, and was built into a city built on stilts starting in the 800's.
I thought it was fascinating that Venice became a major commercial center partly because Venice in 828 AD built the Basilica of San Marcos (St. Mark) to house the bones of the Gospel writer Mark. Pilgrimage and trade led to economic prosperity and military naval power. By the 13th century, Venice became the most prosperous city in all of Europe.
What was surprising to me was the shops surrounding the Basilica: Gucci, Fendi, Versace, Prada. It was like Beverly Hills with canals. The city lives on tourists, and from the looks of it, exceptionally wealthy tourists. Venetians produce masks quite similar to those in New Orleans. Their pre-Lent "Carnival" is similar to Mardi Gras.
I preferred the quieter neighborhoods. People often decorated their windows with colorful flowers. It's also cool to see the Byzantine and Arabic influence in the shape of the windows.
Here we are eating strawberries in a garden near the Piazza of San Marco.