Our first stop was the Doge’s Palace.
“It says here that Venice was known as the most serene republic,” said the wife. Spouting off her new found local knowledge garnered from the travel guides. Saved us a fortune on hiring local guides to take us around.
“Serene? What about this blood stained pillar thing here?” I pointed at the facade of the Doge’s Palace. “I think this is where they chopped off their heads.”
The Doge’s Palace houses the home of the ruler of the Venetian empire and its government back in their heydays. Surprisingly, they held onto power for almost 400 years.
To avoid the queue, you can get the Museum Pass from Venice Connected. Depending on the season and also the types of museum passes, be ready to pay €8 to €20 each. If you plan on visiting more than one museum in Venice, you can get the Museum Pass (€18/€20) that lasts for 6 months but only one entry each to the museums listed. Or if you only plan to visit those around the St Mark’s Square, they have the Museum of St Mark’s Pass (€16).
“We’ve got the Museum Pass right?” said QS.
“This way then, shorter queue.” replied GC.
Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the Doge’s Palace. Entrance is via what is known as the Stairway of Giants. Unlike the Doge, everyone else would have to climb these stairs to meet the Doge. He, on the other hand, would descend the stairs for no one.
“Pompous.” I smiled.
Do not worry about the directions, all tourists are guided along with arrows and such.
Tip: Try to find a fierce looking dude with an opening for his mouth. This is where you drop in anonymous tips or complaints.
As you climb the inner stairs, try to look up and admire the gold covered ceiling. Talk about impressing your guests and stamping your wealth all over them. Within the halls of the Doge’s Palace lie various paintings by Tintoretto and other artists. These paintings are sometimes affixed to the walls, while some are attached to the ceilings. The wife soon spouted another astonishing fact about Venice.
“Did you know that these doges were actually elected annually? Hence there was no dictatorship, tyrants or kings during their rule.”
“Better than now I guess.”
Pay attention particularly to the Hall of the Council of Ten. This was the CIA/FBI or the favourite of the conspiracy theorists back then. It is here that the doge and his advisors decided on whether you live or die.
Tip: Unlike other places, for the Doge’s Palace, it is recommended to visit the dungeons, no thanks to the fact that it is through these dungeons which you will find yourself crossing the Bridge of Sighs.
“Let’s try to queue up for this cam-pa-nil!” says QS excitedly.
Unfortunately, that is not the proper pronunciation.
“It is cam-pa-nee-lay. Meaning bell tower.” I said. Another unfortunate thing was that the queue was super long. There is no fast track lane either. Everyone had to queue and wait for those on top to come down before being allowed to go up. Tickets cost €8 per person.
On hindsight, it would have been better to have queued up early for the Campanile before going to the Doge’s Palace. But we had all the time in the world, so after an hour of queuing, we were finally at the top.
Osteria Antico Dolo
All this waiting and queuing got us hungry, the rest of my family decided that they wanted to go shopping, I on the other hand, wanted to try something local. From my research, I found out about this place called Antico Dolo located somewhere along Ruga Rialto. It is hard to find if you don’t have a good sense of location/direction, unlike me.
Most eateries around Venice which are frequented by the locals are small, kind of like this one. We were the only foreigners there, it was a bit early for business I supposed but we were here to try something out — cicchetti.
“Sorry for the pickiness but it is pronounced as chi-ket-tee,” I said.
These small snacks (side dishes) are made up of sandwiches topped with various seafood in bite-sized format. Wait, maybe not bread but something more like polenta. It is a must to mix it up with some combination of the choices available. To wash it all down, we ordered ‘spitz’, another local drink.
The amount was just nice for the two of us as we didn’t want a heavy lunch, we just wanted something to fill up the stomach before launching on another assault of the Venetian area.
The price? €18 for the both of us.
(to be continued)