Arrival in Venice
Bob and Al set out from San Francisco for a week-long cruise on the Adriatic Sea from Venice to Malta on the sailing ship Wind Surf. We will spend twelve days in Venice, Italy, before embarkation, and then spend a week in Malta and two days in Milan, Italy. The cruise will feature two stops in Croatia (Hvar and Dubrovnik), two Greek islands (Corfu and Cephalonia), and Taormina, Sicily, near Mount Etna.
Wednesday 22 May: Arrival in Venice
After an unusual routing through Cincinnati, Newark and Paris (what was Delta thinking?), we arrived in Venice late on a sunny afternoon. We shared a water taxi into town with Linda and Pete from Los Angeles, who Al met during the flight, and five others. Split nine ways, the 108 Euro charge wasn't bad at all. Our taxi passed the Fondamente Nuove, turned into the city on the Rio di Santa Giustina, wound through narrow canals, and emerged into the Canale di San Marco. There we were treated to a panorama of San Giorgio, La Salute, the Ducal Palace, and Piazetta di San Marco. A magnificent entrance. After dropping off our fellow travelers, the taxi took us directly to our hotel's private dock.
The Hotel American is in the Dorsoduro sestiere (district), situated on the Fondamenta Bragadin on Rio di San Vio, a quiet canal with fondamente (walkways) on both sides. (Many canals have just one fondamenta or none at all.)
Our room was on the second floor, with a balcony overlooking the canal.
Across the canal was a brick wall covered with blooming roses. The fondamenta was speckled with pink and red petals. Behind the wall was a courtyard filled with trees, greenery and more flowers.
We could also see a room with bookcases from which emanated classical music.
Next door to the hotel is a restaurant, and further along toward the Grand Canal a newsstand (our daily source of the International Herald-Tribune), a cookie/tea shop, and finally Campo San Vio, where one can sit and watch the activity on the Grand Canal.
We learned that this is the only campo on the entire length of the Grand Canal.
There were several motor boats tied up in the canal but very few motored past the hotel. A string of seven gondolas glided silently by with their tourist passengers. No singing gondolier with this group. The quiet of the canal is broken every evening at 6:00 PM by the sound of bells chiming from many churches in the city. This is indeed a very tranquil neighborhood.
In the distance, across the Grand Canal, we can see a leaning campanile. Our own leaning tower.
What is its name?
For the next ten days, we tried to locate the campanile but it was not easy to find.
It is part of the Chiesa di Santo Stefano, a 14th century Gothic church, in the Campo Francesco Morosini. (Useless information: the last bull fight in Venice took place in this campo in 1802.) The campanile itself was built in 1544, but how long has it been leaning? We couldn't find much about it in any of the guide books. In fact, we could never find the campanile itself. No walkways would bring us to its base. All we could do is view it from afar.
After settling in to the hotel, we took an exploratory walk through the Dorsoduro. In the Campo Santa Margherita, we had a pizza and then at about 9:00 walked back.