Friday, September 13, 2019

October 02, 2017 - Visiting Venice: Gondola ride and a visit to Murano Glass Factory

October 02, 2017:

Visiting Venice,  Gondola ride and a visit to Murano Glass Factory

Checking in to Carnival Palace

We only have today and October 3 in Venice. We leave Venice to our respective homes beginning October 4. We will also have our final farewell dinner in Venice. There is also an option to spend a day more in Venice if we choose to. A few did, but we decided not to prolong our stay.

We left Hotel Cortefreda with bag and baggage, as usual around 8:30 after our breakfast.  The hotel Cortefreda also sells wine and vinegar of the region.  We bought a small bottle of vinegar.

It was a bright day and we will be doing the final leg of our journey- move to Venice and do a whirlwind tour of the city. The bus takes about 3 hours from where we are to Venice.

Our tour director regaled us with jokes and songs. She also gave us some language instructions and played some taped music. The more audacious of our group hummed along.

After about an hour and a half, we reached one of the main recreational/restaurant areas not too far from Bologna. We got off the bus to use the restrooms and drink some coffee or have a snack.

We reached the end of our bus trip at one of the regular bus stations at Codevigo which is also the place we take water taxis to Venice.

The water taxis ("Vaporetto" ) are small, high speed, covered boats that can seat anywhere from 8 to 10. It may cost anywhere from 100 to 130 Euros one way, to rent the boat. As our group was big, we went in groups of 8, or 9.

We arrived at Carnival Palace, a little after 1 P.M., flutes of bubbly wine were waiting at the lobby. It took a little while to get to our rooms. We sipped our wine in the lounge.

We plan on staying two nights here. Carnival Palace the most modern-looking of the hotels we have stayed so far. Quite the opposite of the hotel in Amalfi.

Visiting Murano

We really had half a day and some of us wanted to visit Murano. Our tour director arranged some boats that we could take near Carnival Palace. It was perhaps 20 minutes ride to Murano.

We visited the Ferro-Lazzarini glassworks. There are many other glassworks on this island as well.

The glass factory had made an arrangement for the demonstration of working with glass.

The demo was very interesting and we could see the whole thing in close up. We visited the showroom. The display was dazzling.

Here is a quick video of the showroom.

We always wanted so buy some Murano wine goblets, and we bought some here. They were very pricey, but they could ship to the USA.

After the demo, we left soon and got off the boat at St. Mark.

Riding the Gondolas

The whole of Venice is built on tree-trunks and there are many islands within this island separated by more than 400 bridges. There are 1000's of buildings close together all over this tiny island with some 400,000 inhabitants. Fortunately, there is no vehicular traffic as most traffic is via boats and gondolas. Gondolas were the main means of transport until the motorboats( 'vaporettes') made their appearance. The Gondola ride is a must when visiting Venice. Our tour director with her family living in Venice had no problem in arranging this event for us.

We rode the gondolas owned by the Traghetto which usually ferried the tourists in the Grand Canal. Each gondola can accommodate from 5 to 6 in addition to the Gondolieri with a striped T-Shirt and a guy playing on the accordion. Our group was large and therefore we had to ride 3 to 4 gondolas.  The accordion music was Ok although we did not recognize any of it.  The crisscrossing the canals and going under the bridges with tourists looking down from above was quite enjoyable. We passed in front of many historic waterfront buildings.

Here are some pictures of our group enjoying a gondola ride in the Grand Canal in Venice.

 Palazzo Salviati

In front of Dario's Palace [Ca' Dario Offset Renaissance Facade]

We got off the Gondola at one of its service points. Our tour director had arranged for another round of bubbly wine. We then parted our ways to return to the hotel by ourselves.  We followed the map supplied to us to get back.

We passed through St.Mark's place.

In front of St. Mark's Piazza

Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri) over the Palace river. Once you crossed the bridge taking in the sights through windows there was no return.

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand: I saw from out the wave her structures rise As from the stroke of the enchanter's wand: A thousand years their cloudy wings expand Around me, and a dying Glory smiles O'er the far times, when many a subject land Looked to the wing├ęd Lion's marble piles, Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

From Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, G.G.Byron 178-1824

Not too far from our hotel, we found a nice restaurant, Laguna Libre. We were early and later it got filled up. One could sit outside by the canal but for the mosquitoes. Inside it was not big but the service was great. We had some pasta and wine. The dessert was very good.

Tomorrow, our last day of the trip, we will do a walking tour with our local guide.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

October 01, 2017: Visiting San Gimignano and tasting Tuscan wine at Palagetto Winery

October 01, 2017:

Visiting San Gimignano and wine tasting at Palagetto winery

We have one more day left in Tuscany and we will be visiting San Gimignano and do some serious wine tasting at the Palagetto Winery on the way. This region is well known for its Chiantis.

We left our Cortefreda Hotel around 8:30 AM. The sky was somewhat overcast and there was a slight drizzle. Cortefreda provided guest umbrellas. We got up somewhat early to watch the sunrise over the Tuscan hills that we were recommended to see. We slept somewhat late and missed the best part. Well, there goes another sunrise to waste.

Our bus was waiting to take us to  San Gimignano which is not too far from where we stayed. It’s just 40 minutes or so by a bus driving south.

In the Middle Ages, San Gimignano was a village on the famous route Via Francigena (Canterbury to Rome) taken by pilgrims to visit Rome. As a point in the historical timeline, 1140 marks the beginnings of 'free communes' or the rise of the city-states. Most of the towns we visited so far were at one time city-states including, Venice which we will be visiting next. San Gimignano is no exception, and it also started off as a city-state or 'free commune'. The city-state was engaged in agriculture activities producing wine, saffron, and Vernaccia (white wine local to grapes grown in San Gimignano).

I read somewhere that beef cooked with saffron is a Gimignano delicacy.

Vernaccia wine was quite well known and even Dante refers to it in his Purgatorio describing the gluttony of Pope Martin IV thus,

"ebbe la Santa Chiesa in le sue braccia:

ebbe la Santa Chiesa in le sue braccia:

dal Torso fu, e purga per digiuno

l’anguille di Bolsena e la vernaccia."

This roughly translates to,

"had the Holy Church in his arms:

had the Holy Church in his arms:

from the Torso fu, and purge for fasting

the Bolsena eels and the Vernaccia."

I am waiting to taste that wine today.

San Gimignano lost much of its luster due to the plague that ravaged and killed off 2/3 of its population. The city finally submitted to Florence losing its independent status around 1348.

Rising 334 meters above sea level it presents a beautiful cityscape (Urban Landscape) with its several towers (13 or so towers). Later,  palaces with much larger living spaces were built and inhabited by the rich and famous. It has been deemed a World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO.

These days tourists walk up the ramp after climbing a few steps from the bus stop that takes them to the city center. Here are some pictures of our visit to San Gimignano.

San Gimignano scaled model in a gift shop. We also sipped a sample of Vernaccia wine.

San Gimignano street scenes.

Torture museum -We skipped.

Dondoli Ice Cream (Gelato) World Champion 2006 to 2009

Piazza Della Cisterna. Folks standing in front of the wishing well.

Duomo Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (1148)

San Gimignano - Distant view

Tuscan Countryside

Entrance to Palagetto Winery

Vegetarian Plate

Our group sitting down for wine tasting with cold cuts

Wines we sampled

You can buy wine in the winery store and get it shipped to your country

Getting into the bus to return. Bye, Bye San Gimignano.

We go back, drink more wine and dine at Cortefeda. Tomorrow, we will be off to Venice. Protection Status