Venice: Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace & Al Covo

Everyone should visit Piazza San Marco and the Basilica di San Marco even if you hate tourists.  Embrace the madness of all the people and pigeons and marvel.  A few weeks ago Venice was hit by the worst acqua alte (high waters) in 22 years.  The city was reportedly flooded with 6 feet of water!  Incredible how the canals rise and the water takes over.  Pictures are here.

Piazza San Marco

The line into the Basilica di San Marco wasn’t too bad.  We went in the morning to avoid the crowds as much as possible.  Behind the altar is  the Pala d’Oro.  It’s studded with 2,000 emeralds, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, pearls and other gemstones.  Biblical figures are depicted in colorful enamel, or cloisonné.  St. Mark stands in the center as the saints, angels and Mary look to him.  It was started in 976 in Constantinople and Venetian goldsmiths embellished it in 1209.  It gives you a sense of wealth of Venice at one time.  When Napoleon needed to fund his wars he pillaged Venice for gold, silver, jewelry, paintings, everything, that’s how wealthy Venice was.

There’s also a Treasury and Museum in the Basilica that are fun to visit if you’re a history buff or into art.  There are plenty of signs that say “No photos” but so many people ignored them.  Bf decided that if everyone else was doing it then he could do.  I didn’t want to get yelled at so I refrained and let him do the damage.

In addition to the interior mosaics there are the 4 gilt bronze horses in the Museum that date from the 8th or 9th century (there’s some dispute as to their exact date.  Some say 4th century BCE but that’s been refuted.)  When the Venetians sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, they took the horses from the Hippodrome and installed them on the facade of the Basilica.  In 1797 Napoleon took them and they were used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe.  The horses returned to Venice in 1815.  Due to pollution in the 1980s the horses were moved inside the Basilica and replicas were installed outside.

We walked through all the rooms of the Doge’s Palace to admire the paintings by Tintoretto, Titian, Tiepolo and Veronese.  We saw the prisons but skipped the Secret Passages tour.  We were hungry.  Since we were in San Marco we decided to revisit Al Covo which I discussed previously.  Yes we had dinner and lunch there it was so good.

I’ve included pictures of the evening we walked to Al Covo when the moon was full and the sky was haunting.  There’s also a picture of the glass sea life sculptures that were on the shelf behind me and a picture of the toilet seat.  Why would I include a picture of a toilet seat at a restaurant?  Because it’s green transparent plastic with little shells embedded in it, of course!  It reminded me of the toilet seat in my bathroom which is clear plastic with rubber ducks.  When I moved into my apartment I had to replace my  toilet seat and decided to have some fun with it.

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