Wine Tasting
Tour of Venice
Free Day in Venice

On the way to Venice we stopped at the Catina Vignaluna for wine tasting and lunch.
Basically we were occupying time so as to not get to Venice before our hotel was ready, but with unlimited wine on the table nobody seemed to mind.
The water taxi met us to take us to our hotel.

The ride in on the taxis provided some nice views of Venice from the water.

You see that the Venetian canals do really serve as street for the city.
We went past numerous palaces on the way.
A nice view up one of the more quiet side canals.
  We finally arrived at the Bonvecchiati Palace Hotel.
We walked past a gondola garage on our way to St. Mark's Square.
St. Mark's Square is amazing and certainly the main attraction of Venice.

St. Mark's Basilica is at the head of the square.

You can see the square was partially flooded from the high tide.
Located along the square are the 12th century Procuratie Vecchie, buildings that housed the apartments and offices of the procurators.
  The original St. Mark's Church was situated inside the complex of the Doges Palace and was constructed in 828. It was built to house the relics of St. Mark the Evangelist, which were supposedly stolen by Venetian merchants from Alexandria, Egypt several years earlier.

The church burned down in 976 during an uprising. It was rebuilt twice, the last time in 1063. At that time the power of the Venetian Republic had risen dramatically, and the new basilica, consecrated in 1094, would come to symbolize the republic's growing power and wealth. This basilica is the one we see today.
The mosaics in the upper front arches depict stories from the life of Jesus.

The one above the central portal is the gilded mosaic known as �The Last Judgment.
About 8,000 square meters of gilded mosaics cover the walls and ceilings.

Those completed in the 12th century depict the New Testament while those painted in the following century concentrate on the stories of the Old Testament.
The clock (alternatively known as St Mark's Clocktower or the Moors' Clocktower) displays the time of day, the dominant sign of Zodiac and the current phase of the moon.

In the early 1490s, the city's Senate decided that the world's greatest contemporary sea power required a better timekeeper than the old clock of Sant'Alipio, which occupied the north-western corner of the Basilica di San Marco.

It was commissioned by Doge Agostino Barbarigo in 1493. The building, (perhaps designed by Mauro Coducci or Codussi), would house 'the most excellent clock' to be created by the father-and-son team of Giampaolo and Giancarlo Rainieri, engineers from Reggio Emilia.

Upon its completion, on 1 February 1499, the two master mechanics became its custodians, the start of a five-century tradition whereby the keepers lived with their families inside the tower.
  The two Moors hammer the hours atop the Renaissance clock tower. 

The Moors originally represented two European shepherds, but after having been reproduced in bronze, they've grown darker with the passing of time. As a consequence, they came to be called Moors by the Venetians.

The first tower standing at the site of the campanile was built in the 7th century, possibly as a lighthouse.

The first clock tower dates from around the year 900. Throughout the centuries, it was rebuilt a number of times, finally reaching its current look around 1513, after a restoration following a damaging earthquake.

On July 14, 1902, the Campanile di San Marco collapsed completely. The Logetta and a small portion of the neighboring Biblioteca Marciana were also destroyed.

After ten years of reconstruction, it was reopened April 25, 1912. Care was taken to create an exact copy of the tower as it existed before its collapse, with the exception of some structural reinforcements required to prevent another collapse in the future.
  The Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal.

For nearly three hundred years, it was the only way to cross the Grand Canal on foot. The bridge replaced various wooden bridges that had occupied the same location since the 12th century.

The current Rialto Bridge, a stone arch, was constructed under the supervision of Antonio da Ponte, between 1588 and 1591.
The Canal Grande snakes through the city of Venice in a large S shape, traveling from the Saint Mark Basin on one end to a lagoon near the Santa Lucia rail station on the other.

This ancient waterway measures 3,800 meters (2.36 miles) long and ranges from 30 to 90 meters (about 100-300 feet) wide. In most places, the canal is approximately 5 meters (16 feet) deep.

The canal is an ancient waterway, lined with buildings that were mostly built from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
After crossing the Rialto Bridge you are in a less tourist and more residential district of Venice. 

There are large outdoor produce and fish markets in this area.
Peggi and I decided to finish the day by crossing the Academia Bridge and see the main church on that side, Santa Maria della Salute.

To get there we toured much of Venice down the Grand Canal from St. Mark's Square.

Along the way we passed this church, Santa Maria Zobenigo.
We had lunch in one of the outdoor cafes along on the Campo Francisco Morosini.
We went back across the Grand Canal on the Academia Bridge.

This view is looking up the canal towards St. Mark's.
A quaint small canal street in the Dorsoduro section of Venice.

The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is one of the largest churches of Venice and has the status of a minor basilica. It stands in a prominent position at the junction between the Grand Canal and the Bacino di San Marco on the lagoon.

In October 1630, the Venetian Senate decreed that if the city was delivered from the currently raging plague that had killed about a third of Venice's population, then a new church would be built and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The city was so delivered, and Baldassare Longhena, was selected to design the new church. It was consecrated in 1681 and completed in 1687.

The church is full of Marian symbolism - the great dome represents her crown, the cavernous interior her womb, the eight sides the eight points on her symbolic star.
The church sits on a point of land across from St. Mark's.  You have great views of the main part of Venice.
The Church of San Georgio Maggiore sits on a nearby island.
I took this picture because it was a street with nobody on it.  A strange thing to see in Venice.
Back across the Grand Canal to go back to the hotel for our fair well dinner and the trip home the next day.

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