Music for the Soul
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Travel Log
The Venice island was an 8 minute train ride from our hotel. It was really easy to get to Venice, and once we were there, we could walk or take a water taxi to wherever we needed to go. When we first got out and about on Sunday, we took a private water taxi for about an hour. The guy took us in the main channel and in some of the larger inside canals. That gave us a since of direction around the island. We got to take some good general pictures and they amazingly were in focus for the most part. We both were surprised how big the main channel was. After the water taxi we hung out at an outdoor café for a couple hours letting the afternoon heat dissipate a little. Operative word being a little.
Walking around Venice was fun. There is so much color here in the buildings. Then you add the patio areas outside cafés, restaurants, and shops. It was really pleasing.

So many flower boxes and old shutters covering the windows with so many different colors.

The whole island used to be mostly canals, until Napoleon decided that he wanted to ride his chariot through Venice, which is why there are so many "streets". They are not very wide.

The gondolas were fun to see. They represent how people traveled around the city for centuries. The drivers had their "outfits" to appeal to the tourism, but were still wonderful to take pictures of. So we still gained an appreciation for the history of the city while being amongst the people just trying to make a living off the tourism trade.

We water taxied around to the Basilica in St Mark's Square which is where we spent most of our time. On our ride we met two very nice 4th grade teachers from Chicago, Mary Jo and Jerry. They have been traveling Europe in a group since the middle of June, so we had fun comparing notes.

St Mark's Basilica
The St Mark's Basilica is one of the main buildings in the St Mark's Square. We were not allowed in the first evening because we had sleeveless shirts. So we bought some t-shirts and went back in for a quick run through as it was 30 minutes before closing time.

St Mark's was originally constructed in the 9th century. The chapel was destroyed by fire and rebuilt (of wood again) in the 10th century. It was destroyed by fire again in the 11th century. This time concrete, marble and brick were used in the rebuilding.
The Basilica was built to house the body of St Mark after it was stolen from Alexandria, Rome. Plus, to accentuate the city's independence in religious as well as political matters. The main attraction is that the entire inside is done in mosaic. The ceiling, the walls, and the floor.
The mosaic style is made from very small pieces of stone, marble or gold tile. Most of the church has gold mosaic as the background for the stories.
The stories start at the main nave telling the story of Jesus, then many of the other bible stories: The Last Testament, The Last Supper, The Creation, Moses, etc..

There are four large horses on the front outside balcony. The original horses are inside the basilica. These original horses were created between the 2nd century BC and the 2nd century AD. What is really different is that this unique metal composition has not been found anywhere else in the world.
The floors are made to look like Oriental carpets. At one point in the middle of the Basilica, the floor is in waves, which was done to represent the waves of the sea. Originally, the waves in the floor were not that large, but over the centuries because of settling and earthquakes, they are now about 12 to 18 inches.
This was another place that did not allow pictures, but I snuck some anyway. I'm sorry, but I feel as long as I am not using a flash, I am doing no harm. Plus, I am not using my shots for commercial proposes. I also feel, that in this time in our world the more records that can be created of history, the better off we are all are, as these magnificent works of art are recorded in case they are destroyed by Mother Earth or, unfortunately, by man.
The Golden Altarpiece is a magnificent work of art. It is gold, enamel and has over 1,039 diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, agates, carnelians, sapphires, amethysts, garnets and a few more that I cannot remember. It has eighty enamel tablets depicting navigators, pioneers, Angels, Saints and of course, Jesus.

The mosaics on the outside of the Basilica show the journey of St Mark's body from Alexandria to Venice. The oldest mosaic is from the 13th century AD.

The Clock Tower is also in the St Marks's Square. We took the elevator to the top to see a 360 degree view Venice.

The islands of Murano are right off of Venice, so glass shops are everywhere. We found a sign for Murano Glass so we went into the building. It turned out to be Pauly and Co which is one of many distributors of this glass. ( They either didn't or no longer do tours at the actual Murano factories, which was disappointing.
The representatives of Pauly and Co, Andre and Bruno, were extremely nice and very generous to Sharon and I. After we saw their showroom, Andre took us upstairs. My Goodness, it went on forever! The chandeliers alone were magnificent. The rooms went on and on. I estimated at least 20 rooms that we went through over the two days. And there were still more to go! This building was constructed in the 1400's and it was quite large. We are guessing that each of the rooms were at least 20 by 40 feet. Some were larger. Table glasses, plates, vases, figurines and any other type of glass work you can think of. Andre went out of his way to show us those rooms because they don't normally take the general public up there.
The second day we went back and saw a little demonstration of how they blow the glass. They told us this was just a demo as the glass will end up cracking. Normally they have to put the item back into a kiln and let it cool down over 24 to 48 hours in order for it to last. It can't cool too quickly.
It was really fun seeing the workmanship. They keep track of every piece they sell and who the master is that blew it. If a piece ever breaks they will replace it if that master is still working. I think they try to duplicate it if that master is not still working but they don't guarantee as close of a replica. These guys actually still hand blow instead of using an air compressor.

The second day Andre was off and he told us to come back and see Bruno. He was wonderful! He took us back upstairs after we finished our business and showed us more rooms. There is one almost complete set of a centerpiece that was done for Mussolini in 1938. There are easily 1000 pieces to this and it went on a table that was at least 25 feet long. It is all clear glass with about a 3 foot dome shaped gazebo of sorts in the center and figurines, service bells, and carafes all around. Surrounding the whole oblong table there were sort of C shaped pieces of glass that represents a wave of water.

Bruno showed us these books that go back to 1905 where they list every person that has purchased something from them. They have books stored that go further than that. For the big metropolis of Denton TX there were four names from 1955, 1980, and 1998. I will be the third entry under La Verne, California. The first was from 1969, the second from 1982. So Sharon and I will be the first persons listed from this century in each of our towns, which is kinda cool in a way. The different handwritings from over the years were very neat and almost calligraphic in nature. They were nice, especially the older entries.
Andre and Bruno both were born and raised in Venice. They told us a little about the change of Venice over time. Bruno told us that the worst recent flooding there, was in 1966 and the water came into the building up to about his chest. He is just about my height so that is a good bit of water to cover an island.

The building itself was cool also. Just the shear age of it was enough. Sharon took shots of two fireplaces made of marble of course, with very elaborate statues above and on either side. Andre told us that in 1976 there was a significant earthquake that cracked one of the fireplaces. That is the only thing that got broken in the whole building! Among 10's of 1000's of pieces of glass work and chandeliers and not one thing gets broken except this marble that has been around for roughly 900 years. Go figure.
Please, visit them if you go to Venice, you will be glad you did! They are located near The Bridge of Sighs.

Bruno then takes us to a guy next door that is a lace and linen man at Succ. E. Kerer This was another amazing place.

Salvano Lasala said all the work is done by hand and he calls it Cottage work, by little old ladies who do it at home at their own pace. He has about 150 ladies working for him, but the bummer is that the youngest one is 75 years old. He said the younger generations don't want to learn the craft or do the work. It is a real shame. You just can't appreciate the time and effort that goes into this until you actually see it. It will truly be a lost art form. He had a piece that was hand made from China and there just isn't a comparison. The one from China was quite nice, but when you put it next to some of this work the difference in quality is very evident. Salvano is also a native Venetian and has been working at that company for about 45 years.
Please visit his web site so you can see more of the beautiful pieces. (

Famous Person Sighting
Sharon and I were walking down one the streets about 7:30 pm, when Sharon pointed to a person ahead of her. I looked over and got a full view from the front and it was Tony Bennett! About that time he notices us and says "Hello." We both knew as soon as he spoke it was really him. I said, "It is really you!" Sharon came up with the brilliant line - "You are really who you are!" .... Well we were caught off guard! He was gracious and brushed us off quite well I might add. He asked where we were from and I said California and Texas. He told us to have a good time and enjoy our trip and kept on strolling along with his wife. Turned out he was singing at the Lido that night and two other places Sunday and Monday night. So we thought that was cool. How easily we are amused sometimes!

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