Women's Basketball Italy Diary - Angie Jones
Aug. 29, 2006
Well hello there everybody, it has been another beautiful day in Italy. Today we spent the day in the amazing city of Venice. There is so much history and beautiful architecture in this small area. I was told the city is only home to about 60,000 people but with all the thousands and thousands of tourists everywhere it felt like a population in the millions.
Our day started with a short boat ride to the city. We traveled across the Grand Canal and saw some of the most spectacular feats of architecture imaginable. Everything in the city is built on millions and millions of pilings. A gigantic Church elaborately decorated, in traditional Italian style appeared to be floating on the water. We also saw many old palaces. Most of them had once housed the most prominent Venetian families, and now had recently been converted into museums.
After we got back on solid land, we were able to go the Murano Glass Factory and learn a little about the remarkable process of making the beautiful treasures we see all around the world. Along our tour we were able to watch an actual artisan create a vase in a matter of minutes from just a red hot lump of glass. He also took a few minutes to make a unicorn. It was breathtaking to watch the features of the unicorn slowly appear in that mass of hot glass. Even more amazing was taking a tour of the galleries. The completed works were so intricately decorated! Every piece hand painted and designed. We learned that the specific colors of Murano glass come from an array of different minerals added to glass, and also the reason the red-colored glass costs more (actual gold is one of the compounds added to give it its color).
One of the other activities scheduled while we were in Venice was to take a guided tour of the historical sites like Saint Mark's Basilica. Unfortunately with a city built on water there certain inevitabilities, like floods, and the church was flooded today. So we all took some time to shop `till we dropped. There were tons of little shops, every alley you turned down had rows and rows of stores selling Murano glass (and knock offs of course, although I probably couldn't tell the difference). Some of the most beautiful works of art in the world! Amazing glass sculptures, jewelry, picture frames, paper weights, you name it and they had it.
Our last venture was a Gondola ride. We climbed into the small, old fashioned boats and were able to go down the Grand Canal and then through some of the side streets of Venice. We saw people eating lunch, hanging laundry, etc, all with 8 feet of water right outside the door. The apartment complexes actually had the front door facing the water, the main step leading into the water. It was remarkable to see a life basically of water. Earlier in the day we passed the police station and saw tons of police boats lined up in front of the station. I had to wonder what a high speed chase in Venice would be like.
The one thing I didn't like about this city is another reason it's so famous, the pigeons. YUCK. And I mean YUCK. They were everywhere millions and millions of pigeons. There were even vendors selling food so the birds would come and perch on you. Maybe it's just because I have a deep fear of birds, but I will admit that I was grossed out beyond words by the masses of birds.
In all I would have to agree that Venice is one of the most mind-blowing and beautiful places in the world. As we sailed away you couldn't help but to feel like you were on a movie set. The sun setting behind us, it was great day!
Hope all is well in Seattle! See you when we get back.