Aug 2, 2014

Fine d'Italia

We boarded the water bus at the train station and headed towards the hostel in Venice, Italy when Marine asked, "I wonder what it's like here during a storm." A few hours later, she got her answer. The first night in Venice was a cozy one spent indoors looking out at lightening strike over the canals. We stayed in Giudecca, which overlooked San Marcos square and The Doge's Palace. We awoke in the morning to a calm, clear sunshine and miles of canals to explore.

We saw the famed "Bridge of Sighs", a passageway from the court of the palace to the prison. It is said that prisoners would glimpse out of the windows towards the Venetian canals and take in the last view of their freedom and sigh.

We explored the canals, the Rialto bridge, and ate our way through the city. The best pasta we had in all of Italy was discovered here, at a tiny take away window serving cheap, fresh, hot pasta to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Also gelato. The next day we ran into some family friends who were on vacation, and joined them to see the Murano glass blowers. As big as the world is, it is still awfully small sometimes.

Later on it rained and cleared most of the tourists out of San Marcos square which made it immensly more pleasurable to spend time in. That evening we saw a play depicting the history of Venice and actually learned a lot. The city was built by Italian refugees escaping Attila the Hun's invading army in the lagoon. The newly established village became a popular trade route connecting Asia and Europe, and the city later earned further repute when two merchants stole the bones of St. Mark from an Egyptian tomb and put him to rest in the basilica in San Marcos square. It also became famous for its underworld of masquarade balls and scandalous courteseans. Venice is a history and mystery buff's dream.

In the morning the clear skies beckoned us to the Doge's Palace (you know, the one the Venetian in Las Vegas looks like). The Doge ruled for centuries and was a democratically elected leader. In fact, Venice had a history of scandal, but hardly from the government. We strolled the rest of the afternoon through winding sidewalks and back alley bridges over bustling canals. We ended here in perfect weather, ready for the streets of Milan.

In Milan, the weather had begun to look ominous again. We walked through the city and stopped for lunch in the park.

We strolled the shopping center and wound up in front of the Duomo just as the sky darkened around us. The towering structure looming before us looked like a castle straight out of Beauty and the Beast. We snapped a few photos and ducked into the subway before it began to rain again.Up next: The Swiss Alps!

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