VENICE – Our first included shore excursion attracted many of our number to St. Mark’s square and its perennial Venetian favorite, the Doge’s Palace. I’m here to tell you that on the outside, at least, it looks pretty much like the one in Las Vegas.
Inside, however, the splendor of the 14th to the 18th century Republic of Venice comes alive, beginning with our ascent of the Golden Staircase, and continuing inside with the trappings of the doges and autocratic senators who ruled a large section of Europe with iron fists.
“Paris, Rome, and Venice,” said Martina, our guide. Those were the major cities of Europe in times of yore.
On a private tour, that would have cost at least 14 Euros each, Aegean Odyssey cruisers trooped up and down staircases and through baronial halls filled with ancient paintings that often featured the autocratic senators who ruled the influential republic, sometimes with masked faces during inquisitorial trials.
She also told us that the fate of the merchants of Venice was sealed with the discovery of America, since the trade routes they controlled were soon no longer exclusive.
We learned something, too, about Casanova, the legendary seducer and the only prisoner ever to have escaped the dungeon on the other side of the Bridge of Sighs. Then with somewhat lesser effort, we came to that bridge and crossed it ourselves to inspect the prison cells.
Martina also revealed that the infamous bridge was never known by that moniker in Venice itself until a British romantic poet made it up in the 19th century, telling his readers that no-hope prisoners could be heard there audibly giving in to their fate as they were lead away forever.
April 14, 2012
Photos by Robert W. Bone