Monday, June 5, 2006

Arriving in Venice.

Earlier, I wrote about arriving at the pier in Venice. After that we boarded a little water taxi to our hotel, the Amadeus.

From L-R: Blaine, John, Sanni, Arianna, Sandy, guide Christina (back to camera), Venetian boatman, and Melinda.

Our luggage went on a different boat. As I was boarding the water taxi, a little skiff loaded with our luggage zoomed off. I was rather alarmed to see the skiff was named the "Trashbagger!"

There were no mishaps with our suitcases. Maybe because of the strong presence of law enforcement.

The Doges of Venice.

Being a Republic, Venice never had a king. Instead, it was ruled by the doge - a word which comes from the same root as duce and duke.

Our Venice guide Laura pointed out pictures of the various doges in the Palazzo Ducale. They'll all gray-haired men! It was the practice to pick an old man as doge, to make sure that his reign would naturally be short. Here's more on doges, in the audio spot I sent from Venice.

Here, then are some pictures of the Doges of Venice.

Whoops! Better makes that "The DOGS of Venice."

Hey, if Verona's top ruling family was so into dogs, why not see how the canine has thrived under Venetians?

But seriously, we all noticed more dogs in Venice than in the other cities we visited. They were better groomed, and very well behaved. I remember hearing just one dog barking during our time in La Serenissima. On our walk to the Rialto on Saturday morning, I loved seeing how dogs fit into daily routines. Couldn't help but take some doggy snapshots. This one below is one of my favorite pictures.

I just love the way this little one below is patiently waiting for its owner, who runs a vegetable stand at the Rialto market. No leash - dog knows to stay close. That's a box of mushrooms behind this lovely dog, labeled "funghi."

While most were small dogs, I did see a couple of larger animals, including this one who gallantly hiked up the steps to the Rialto bridge with owner and shopping cart.

Canine duo waiting while owners sip caffe at a bar.

Walking by a souvenir shop. See the little hand-written notice advertising toy gondole?

Well, at least she's wearing one.

Verona's Piazza Bra (here's their webcam) is a big, full, beautiful... SQUARE, flanked by a Roman arena, fountains, statues, and a great restaurant and shopping area. Our guide Alberto told us "Bra" is derived from a word in the Veronese dialect that means "big wide open space."

This Roman gate flanks Piazza Bra. I believe those little brick projections on the top are called "crenels," and were for the archers to do their job with some protection. Clever design! (You'll see crenellated Roman walls all over Verona.)

This picture really doesn't do justice to the beautiful gate. The blocks of marble range from snowy white to a rose pink. Actually, glance around this beautiful city, and you'll notice a lot of that pink, thanks to the local marble known as "Rossa Verona." You'll see blocks of it used in the construction of the arena, which dates to the first century B.C.

Verona's arena is older and in better condition than Rome's Colosseum. The interior is in good shape, while a part of the outer wall still rises above the amphitheater. These are the four remaining arches of that outer wall.

We we curious enough that we paid the entry fee to experience the interior of this imposing structure.

Imagine watching a show on the stage of an ancient Roman amphitheater! That's what happens every summer in Verona. Thankfully, it's no longer spectacles of gladiators and wild animals and rivers of blood. Instead, there are rock concerts, and operas. When we were there, we saw the massive set of Zeffirelli's "Aida" production right in front of the town hall, Palazzo Barbieri (below). It's right by the Arena, waiting to be moved to the stage.

Note: on Monday morning, Pacific time, I saw the Piazza Bra webcam showing the pharoah figure right outside the arena walls! The next staging of Aida is drawing close. Oh that we could be there for it! Maybe another opera trip?
Here's a link to the Arena's official website. It has some great pictures of the productions on the arena stage, and is really worth a look.