Italy Day Four ~ Venice

We tried our best to conquer Venice our second day. 
 Gondola traffic jam.
Gondola parking lot.

 We started at the Accademia, which is Venice's top art museum.  Venice has a treasure trove of art museums, so we tried to pick the top two.  The Accademia houses art from the Venetian Renaissance.    The paintings capture pieces of Venice's history and capture how grand and lively Venice was.  The Feast of the House of Levi below depicts Jesus' last supper.  However, the splendor and party nature of the scene led to an investigation of Veronese by the Roman Catholic Inquisition.  Such a salacious last supper was bordering on heresy.  He was forced to change the painting.  Instead he opted to change the title.
 Next we went to the Correr Museum where we were able to see Venetian art, armor, statues and paintings.  Max loved the weapons and maps display.  Seeing the maps evolve as their identification of the world grew was fascinating.  I enjoyed the coins and sculpture.
After a morning of art, we headed to the square.
 The amount of intricate detail is wonderful.  I loved all the beautiful architecture.
 At on end of Saint Mark's basilica is the Campanile.  The bell tower was built in 1514 but then collapsed and was rebuilt in 1912.
 The Clock Tower that was built during the Renaissance is at the other end of the basilica.  It connects St. Mark's Square with the Rialto.  At the top of the hour we watched the bronze men hammer the bell.  Love the winged lion at the top, which is the traditional symbol of Venice and featured in it's flag.  The winged lion has been symbolic of Mark the apostle, who is the patron saint of Venice.  St. Mark's remains were brought to Venice in 828 A.D.
 In front of St. Mark's!
The Procuratie Vecchie built in 1520.
 Entry into St. Marks with various types of marble columns and superbly detailed arches.
 The basilica is laid out in a Greek cross, with each arm having a central nave and side aisle.  The floor is all marble in a stunning geometric pattern.  Mosaics cover the walls and ceilings.  The stories of the New and Old Testament are depicted in beautiful detail.  It was hard to absorb so much beauty.  It would take days to examine each masterpiece and learn about the history of the treasures the church holds.
Next was Doge's Palace, the home of the ruling duke of Venice.  The grand staircase.
 It was hands down my favorite museum.  The Gothic architecture, lavish appointments, and ornate rooms were amazing.  Over the Doge's throne is Paradise, the largest oil painting in the world!
We then crossed over the Bridge of Sighs which connects the Doge's palace to the dungeons.  The prisoners would go from this beautiful courtroom and end up in a dark dungeon.
 This may be their final glimpse at Venice as they crossed over.  A reason to sigh for sure!
Our grand finally for our trip was to see La boheme at the La Fenice (The Phoenix) Opera House!  We have never been to an opera.  I am pretty sure it is all down here from here!
We laughed as we posed for our "prom" pictures.  It has been a long time since we both got dressed up.
 La Fenice is one of the most famous theaters in Europe in part because it continues to rise from the ashes.  It has been burned down three times and rebuilt.  The current theater was rebuilt using photos to try and replicate it exactly as it was.  We were completely wowed.
 When Max first got invited to speak, I began planning our trip.  I really wanted to go to the opera.  I looked at tickets and talked to Max about it and he wasn't overly excited to go.  Time went by and I never bought them.  Then as the trip got closer, I decided I was just going to get the tickets and make it happen.  He would have to be my date rather he wanted to or not.  The tickets sure seemed expensive but everything in Venice is really expensive.  The tickets were  through an Italian site so I was Google translating the text as I went through.  But I got the tickets and we were set!
As we walked to the theater, Max asked me what kind of tickets we had.  I said I didn't know.  I got what was left so it was probably behind a pole or nosebleeds.  As we handed the lady our tickets she pointed us to the 3rd floor.  We winked at each other thinking nosebleeds.  Then the man at the stairs escorted us to a private box!  I must have turned a hundred shades of red!   The best mistake I have ever made.  The theater was exquisite.  The opera made me cry.  It is a night I will always remember.  Our vacation in Italy couldn't have ended on a better note.

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