Italy (day 6) – Venice
Friday, 26 July 2013
Today is our last day in Venice. We will fly back to Malaysia tomorrow. After breakfast, we took the water bus to Piazza San Marco. We passed by the Rialto Bridge and I was able to snap a nice photo of the Grand Canal (photo above). The plan for today is to visit the Doge’s Palace before leaving Venice. As we arrived in Piazza San Marco, we explored some of the shops in the alley before heading to the Doge’s Palace.
We came across La Ricerca (website), an artisan paper boutique that sells leather goods, high quality paper, souvenirs and maps. They had a map of Venice in a form of a comical-like painting. I bought a copy of the map as I knew it is the perfect addition to my map collection.
At the Doge’s Palace (Italian: Palazzo Ducale), we were surprised to see there was hardly any visitors at the ticket counter. It’s either most people prefer to visit later in the day, or it’s just simply too hot. We paid of the tickets, grabbed an audio tour guide, and start the tour. Although the palace looks kinda of square-ish from the outside, it has a nice interior.
The Doge is the chief magistrate that ruled Venice from 697CE to 1797CE, over a thousand years! As for the palace, the initial building was established in 810CE, but had massive reconstructions in 12th century and took it’s current form in 1442CE.
One of the interesting sections of the palace is the Bridge of Sighs (built in 16th century) that connects the main building to the interrogation rooms (also used as a prison). The bridge was designed by Antonio Contino in 1600. We went through the bridge and visited the prison cells. I can only imagine how is it like back then. With minimum ventilation and sunlight, it must be a very depressing (and smelly) place for the prisoners! (for external view of Bridge of Sighs, refer to Venice Day 4)
Towards the end of the tour, we visited the armory of palace. While there were various middle age and Renaissance-era weaponry on display, one particular device caught my attention. There were no description on the gun. After a bit of research online, I found 3 possible stories:
- It is some sort of early Gatling gun. The Gatling gun was created in 1861 in the US, however there were similar weapons in Europe at the same era.
- Some believe it’s a 17th century French attempt at a machine gun. The French have their own version of a machine/volley gun called the mitrailleuse (1851CE). Maybe it’s an early attempt of the mitrailleuse?
- A more extreme suggestion is that it was created by Da Vinci. There were no facts to back up this claim, and it does seem a bit far fetched as during Da Vinci’s era (1519), many other supporting technology needed for the gun to work has yet to be discovered. But then it may just be one of his wild ideas? Oh well we’ll never know for sure!
After we were done at the palace, we had dinner at a nearby restaurant. We did some last minute shopping before going back to the hotel to pack up. Tomorrow is our flight back to Malaysia. I had a good time in Italy. We visited 3 cities in 6 days. The weather was somewhat unpleasant, but at least I finally experienced the Tuscan summer. If I ever visit Europe again, I’ll be sure to come during a “cooler” season.