Day 183 – Italy Travel Diary: Day 8 – The Doge’s Palace

Hello Yearlings!

Today has been so incredibly busy and picture filled that I really don’t know where to start. Venice is for sure better on the second day, when you know what to avoid and aren’t constantly getting lost and ending up in shady looking alleyways or dead ends. I’m beginning to understand what Hemingway saw in the place.

We started our day with a walking tour of the Doge’s palace, which was huge and basically just wall to wall art. I have so many pictures from this tour that it was hard to only pick one that would encompass everything that we saw. Sadly the Doge’s personal apartments, which are normally open to the public as well, was being used as a private gallery so we didn’t get to see that. Fun fact, a Doge is an elected official, an office that they take for life, and when a Doge died the family had three days to empty the apartment of his personal belongings. After three days the apartment doors were thrown open to the public and people could come in and take whatever they wanted. Hence why the Doge’s apartments are strangely devoid of any of the rich art and history that you find all throughout the rest of palace.

The Doge’s palace also connects to the incredibly famous Bridge of Sighs, so named by Byron, where prisoners were led to their death from the prisons inside the palace. Really, what I gathered from our tour guide, it seems as though the palace is not your typical place of residency and offices, so much as it was a court where grievances could be aired and disputes could be resolved. Much like the way we might think of congress or parliament. I didn’t enjoy this walking tour as much as I enjoyed the one in Florence, but it was also almost entirely focused on one place, but I do feel as though I learned a lot about the history of the Doge’s palace, just not much about the rest of Venice.

There were so many pictures from inside the palace I tried to use one that captured both its enormity as well as its extensive art collection.
There were so many pictures from inside the palace I tried to use one that captured both its enormity as well as its extensive art collection.

After we finished our tour we took a quick jaunt over to the fish market which was quite an experience in itself. The fish market is actually right next to the regular market so we picked up some produce and snack type foods and made a lunch out of that. It was lovely and as a huge foodie I find that there are very few things more beautiful than a bustling food market with all its shouting and beautiful raw ingredients. The mind does tend to run a bit wild when it sees squids still covered in ink and a gigantic octopus. It was just enjoyable to be here and I really wish that we had something that felt equivelant in Dallas. Sadly I have to go up to Seattle for a similar experience. I don’t think I’d want a fish market in land locked Dallas anyhow.

The incredibly beautiful, but a bit overwhelming, market where we made a piecemeal picnic.
The incredibly beautiful, but a bit overwhelming, market where we made a piecemeal picnic.

Much like yesterday we spent most of our day wandering around attempting to get ourselves into trouble whenever we found it: Libreria Acqua Alta. Libreria Acqua Alta is the bookstore to end all bookstores. You’ll frequently see it listed as one of the top bookstores that you should visit before you die. There’s nothing particularly beautiful or amazing about the place, it’s impossible to find books as they’re all in giant heaps and piles all around the place and there’s no sense of order, geometry or aesthetic. If anything the place sort of looks like it belongs in an episode of hoarders and that’s what makes it a place worth loving. They store their books the way that I store mine and because of the Venetian penchant for flooding they store their books in gondolas, bathtubs and anything else that will float ab protect the books should the waters get too high. I could have lived in this place and felt totally at home, though I don’t think I’d ever have been able to actually find a book here that I might want to buy.

Can you see the gondola?
Can you see the gondola?

Today is technically our last day in Venice, and Italy for that matter, so I feel like there should be some sense of finality that just isn’t here. I know that I’ll spend all of tomorrow on planes or enduring layovers but I don’t feel like I’m really stressed enough to be mentally prepared for travel. I guess I’m just still on the Italy schedule for things which seems to be ‘We’ll get there when we get there, let’s have some wine while we wait.’ I’m loving it.

Lots of Love,

Maya

PS I forgot to mention that while we were in Rome we saw the Shelly/Keats house, where Keats eventually succumbed to tuberculosis after moving to Italy for his health and today we saw the placard on the wall that shows where Byron swam the canal as a show of masculine bravado. It feels cool to be hanging out in the same haunts as some of my all time favorites.

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