Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima

May 16, 2016 / Places
Venice, Veneto
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Once upon a time, the Most Serene Republic of Venice was a majestic and innovative maritime power that soared above all others as it ruled the commerce-laden sea lanes between Europe and the Orient for over 1,000 years.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Today, La Serenissima is world renowned for her many bridges and canals — revealing postcard-perfect scenes around every bend and across every expanse — along with her priceless art and stunning architecture. But, most importantly, it is Venice’s ability to simply take your breath away, without warning, regardless of how many times you’ve visited her.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

No stranger to the City of Canals, I’m about to see her in a new light — from way above the crowds down to eye-level with their footwear — as I, together with five paying customers, meet up with a Walks of Italy (WOI) local guide, board a luxury motoscafo (motorboat) at the pier near Palazzo Ducale and shove off on WOI‘s intimate tour: Venice by Boat and Tower Climb.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

While our pilot steers the sleek, white craft across St. Mark’s Basin, past Canale della Giudecca and towards Isola San Giorgio Maggiore, our guide points out that, “Few visitors take the time to visit this island, and that’s their loss as you’re about to find out.”

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

One of Venice’s most photographed islands, we alight onto San Giorgio Maggiore for the “climb” portion of this 2-hour tour.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

We marvel at the exterior of the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, a Benedictine basilica designed by High-Renaissance master builder Andrea Palladio that was constructed between 1566 and 1610.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Inside, we enjoy the quietness of this exquisite house of worship, including the original protectorate angel that stood atop the basilica for centuries until it was struck down by lighting. And, not to be missed are two 16th century capolavori (masterpieces) by Jacopo Tintoretto, the energetic Renaissance painter know as Il Furioso (The Furious): The Last Supper and The Fall of Manna.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

The church’s campanile (bell tower) has a ring of nine bells in C♯, and its architectural style mimics that of the tower just across the way in Saint Mark’s Square.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

From the belfry, reachable on foot or via an elevator, you’re treated to incredible bird’s-eye views of La Serenissima. Trace the route of the Grand Canal, marvel at the dome of St. Mark’s Basilica and be surprised by the well-manicured labyrinth just down below. Armed with a camera, you can get off some memorable shots of Giacomo Casanova’s hometown.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Built entirely over water, Venezia sits atop an archipelago of 118 small islands in a shallow lagoon that empties into the Adriatic Sea. Connected by more than 400 bridges, Venice is separated by an assortment of canals, like the Grand Canal (called Canalasso in the Venetian dialect), smaller ones called rio, and the narrowest and shortest of the waterways called riello, making her truly the City of Canals.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

During our “glide,” we head into the back-waters of La Serenissima and collectively inhale as we negotiate some very narrow riello and duck our heads as we barely clear a few low-arched bridges that you can almost touch as you pass by underneath.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com
Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Making our way up the Grand Canal as daytime begins to give way to nighttime, we navigate past luxurious palaces like Cà d’ora, Cà Pesaro and the Casino, glide underneath the iconic Rialto Bridge and slowly make our way back to GO: the pier, just below Palazzo Ducale, with its fab view out to Isola San Giorgio Maggiore.

Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima | ©thepalladiantraveler.com

Editor’s note: The writer’s participation in this tour was supported by Walks of Italy, but his article was written independently.

by Tom Weber

Tom is a veteran print-broadcast journalist who resides in the Colli Euganei (Euganean Hills) in the province of Padova in the Veneto region of northestern Italy. He hosts the eclectic travel/foodie/photography blog The Palladian Traveler.com, is a regular contributor to Los Angeles-based TravelingBoy.com, and is a member of the International Travel Writers Alliance. Feel free to follow Tom as he “meanders along the cobblestone to somewhere.”

30 Responses to “Climbing High, Gliding Low in La Serenissima”

  1. Riccardo

    Tom,
    Thanks for the great article and photos. I’ve been to Italy many times and heard friends speak of their love of Venice, but I have not visited Venice. This post moves Venice up on my “Bucket List”.

    Reply
    • Ricardo — Venice should be at the top of everyone’s “bucket list.” Hope you make it over soon.

      Reply
  2. Antoinette Shapiama

    Beautiful photos, Tom! Makes me wish I was there again.

    Reply
  3. Melinda Jankord-Steedman

    I’m breathless — your photos are absolutely gorgeous, Tom.

    Reply
  4. mike Lynch

    Venice is truly magical! Go!
    It is also very confusing to get around, This can become part of its charm
    I once asked a local about this and was told to” buy the best map you can find- It won’t help but it will make you feel good!”

    Reply
    • Mike — The beauty of Venice is her narrow calle (alleys) and multiple ways to get to one’s final destination. She’s a one-of-a-kind city. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  5. Jeannie Woods

    Lovely article. I would like to attend Carnival in Venice next year. Any suggestions on how to plan such a visit?

    Reply
  6. jenny guth

    thank you for seeing he Maggiore from on high, I never have seen the cloistered gardens, nor the roof!

    Reply
  7. Jean Mauro

    Anyone who hasn’t visited Venice might not believe the colors in your photos, but they are real. Pity there is no photo of “acqua alta,” the infamous “high water,” which is as much a part of the experience veneziana as is getting lost.

    Reply
  8. Virginia C. Mars

    I have visited Venice over the years-on my honeymoon (in November in the rain), with my children at various ages, with friends. It is forever magical, always with surprises and delights. Your beautiful photos makes me nostalgic and excited at the same time. And another reason to return-whether to visit the market or a magnificent church or to have a delicious meal. Thank you.

    Reply
  9. Ricardo Russo

    Tom –
    The Principessa and I were there last fall celebrating our 50th anniversary, and your pictures brought back memories – unhappy ones, remiinders of my cataracts. Sending you a lens cloth…

    Reply
  10. Marian

    Venice will always be on everyone’s bucket list……..but…….do any Venetians actually still live in the city Tom?

    Reply
  11. John Bellanti

    Lovely photos that bring back pleasant memories and a longing for Italy.

    Reply
  12. Suzy Denison

    Incredibly gorgeous photos of Venice – brings it all back. Grazie tanto.

    Reply
  13. Phyllis getting ready to go Sept cannot wait...Simply gorgeous!!

    I need sept to hurry hear I’m so anxious to see this beautiful country an towns. Thanks for gorgeous heads up an pictures! Thanks John!

    Reply
    • Hi Phyllis — My name is Tom. Thanks for viewing the article on Venice and commenting. Here’s hoping someday soon you’ll come visit the Bel Paese and see her beauty firsthand.

      Reply
  14. Lina Falcone

    Thank you Tom for these great pictures of Venice I visited several years ago and enjoyed it very much. I hope to go again next year.

    Reply
    • If you return, La Serenissima will be waiting for you…with open arms, one holding, hopefully, an “ombra.”

      Reply

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