Surprisingly, we found ourselves waking up early for all our days spent at Venice. It was to avoid the unnecessary queues and to be able to shoot some tourist-free photos. Any time later and you would have to share the nice photo spot with almost everyone else.
We had our second round of photos at the Rialto Bridge and also at the St Mark’s Square. Then my mum turned around to ask.
“Why haven’t we visited the basilica yet?”
There is a trick on how to enter the basilica WITHOUT queuing
“Don’t worry. It is all in the plans.” I replied.
“Oh no, look at the queue!”
Actually, the basilica is the first thing that most tourist would queue up for when they arrive, either by foot or by boat. Even before the opening hours.
“Why didn’t you tell us to walk faster just now? We’re going to waste time queuing.”
“Let me show you how it’s done. We will take some photos first, my trick starts at 930am,” I replied confidently.
As you all should know, St Mark’s Basilica is a church and it is free. That is why there is such a long queue. Although there are a couple of sub-sections within the church which require a payment, most notably the museum and the treasury. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed.
Walk to the left of the basilica down Calle San Basso, drop off your bags and get the token.
If you’re the first to arrive, then you could skip this as there is no added advantage. But if you’re not, head to the left of the basilica, on a narrow strip of road called Calle San Basso. Look for Ateneo San Basso. This is where you keep your backpacks if you have to enter St Mark’s Basilica.
You cannot enter the church with anything larger than a shoulder-slung bag. Just deposit whatever bag that you have, collect the token and then go to the guard at the entrance.
“Show him the token!” I said excitedly.
“Are you sure this will work?”
“Obviously. See. Aren’t we already inside the church?”
This trick works because most people don’t realize that they can’t enter with backpacks. So the guard at the entrance will direct you to the baggage storage and to avoid having to queue again, they will give you a token. Show your token, and you can enter!
St Mark’s Basilica
It is basically quite dark inside, there is a steady stream of tourists, including those with tour groups. My advice is to just passively follow one of the tour groups who are talking in a language you could understand. By doing so, you will be able to glean a lot of information about the place.
Read up before visiting or else, just follow a tour operator
The main thing that is so wonderful about this basilica is the mosaics used to make up the designs. Furthermore, the St Mark’s mosaics tell the entire Christian history from end to the beginning.
“Yes, the entrance depicts the end of the world, and as we walk further in towards the altar, you will see the source.” I replied.
There are actually 3 museums here, for the price of one, all interconnected. Namely, the Correr Museum, the National Archaeological Museum and the Marciana National Library.
If you are not a history buff and museums aren’t your thing, I would suggest that you give this a skip. I am neither one of those stated, but for the sake of doing touristy stuffs, I had to give it a go. It was an hour and a half of boredom and torture, walking along the rooms and reading the history behind each and every artifact.
You can give the Correr Museum a skip if history ain’t your stuff
By the time we were finished with the museums, it was almost lunch. QS and GC wanted to go shopping, while my parents preferred to get lost amongst the narrow lanes with us. But before that, we had to ease our hunger pangs.
Located along Calle Fiubera, just behind St Mark’s Square along the direction towards the Rialto, lies this quaint little shop just after a small footbridge. There were about 4 small tables inside and we were almost sitting elbows against elbows despite being the only group there.
I have forgotten on whose suggestion it was to visit the place, but what I do remember was that we needed to try their spaghetti. Unfortunately again, my memories failed me, but maybe the pictures could remind some of the readers about the names of the dishes we ordered.
The owner was the cook and the waiter altogether, with only another helper. But when you have only 5 tables, I think it was pretty manageable. The 4 of us spent €84 on meals and drinks here. It is on the expensive side but I guess everything in Venice is catered with the tourists in mind.
Anyone would like to try?
(to be continued)