Venice (or Venezia, in Italian) was only supposed to be a short stop-over, like Florence. It was that city I had to go to just because I was in Italy at the time — and you have to go to Venice.
Looking at the only guide to Venice, which was no longer than my hand and even less thick, I scheduled two days to spend in the city. Florence only got a few hours between trains (at the time, I hadn’t found it as interesting). That would be plenty of time to see the canals and a few of the historical buildings and then I could make my way to Paris on the overnight train! (I love riding trains.)
I didn’t even stay overnight in Venice, but stayed on the mainland as the cheaper option. I arrived in Veneto late at night after a hurried visit to Florence, where only after arriving in Rome I discovered the amazing story of the Medicis.
The next morning, I left early to take the train to the mainland. In the late 19th century, they built a bridge and highway between Veneto and Venice. It’s not such a great view — ocean and packing crates, from what I remember.
But once I reached Venice, once I stepped out of the train station and saw the Grand Canal — I was enchanted. So much that I even wrote a book based in an alternate city.
(If you didn’t realize — well, surprise!)
I had no problem filling my day. Finding one’s way around, if one decides like I did to walk most places and only taking the water bus in the morning, takes up half of one’s time, even though the city’s only half a mile long.
Getting lost in Venice, which I did constantly and even helped a few other tourists along the way, was the most incredible time I have ever had getting lost. Seraphin, I admit, found it less magical — but he had other things on his mind.
The Palazzo Ducale
The Palazzo Ducale (or Doge’s Palace in English) is actually the very light pink that surprised both Seraphin and I. Most of the other buildings are bolder colours like orange — and who believes that a ruler actually lived in a pink palace that resembles a lady’s lace handkerchief?
The gray is made out of Istrian stone, which was a prime building material in Venice because it was so abundant in the area. The pink is made from Veronese pink marble.
Inside the Palazzo Ducale, when I began to ascend the Scala d’Oro, I had to stop and stare. An older couple, having trouble with finding where they were, came up behind me, and they too had to stop and stare. The Scale d’Oro, or Gold Staircase, is just that stunning.
The fresco is made out of 24-carat gold, and inspired the golden fresco of Neputio that stunned Seraphin as he and Alexis arrived at the main Carnivale event. Honestly, the photos do not do it justice.
Sala del Maggior Consiglio
After my complete adoration of the Scale d’Oro, I arrived at the large hall that I set the main ball of the Carnivale in — the Sala del Maggior Consiglio. It overlooks the entrance to the Grand Canal and customs house. The breeze coming through the large windows was very welcome indeed! My stay in Italy had been accompanied by 30C+ weather and even in Venice, with its ocean breeze, was sweltering.
As you can see, the paintings look quite dark. In Rome, frescoes were so much lighter and airy. These could even appear drab, as Seraphin describes them. In the dark of night with only a roaring fire at one end and candle light for the rest, I can’t imagine you’d be able to make out much.
Not every detail is faithfully reproduced in God Cursed (it is a fantasy world, after all). I would have loved to have more time to stroll around, examining all the details and taking their secret tour, which takes you into places regular visitors aren’t allowed to visit, including the cells where they believe Casanova to have been imprisoned. I hadn’t imagined I’d find Venice anything but a tourist trap — and never even considered basing a book there. How mistaken I was.
If you have a chance to go to Venice and the Palazzo Ducale — take it! And if you can bring your beloved with you (unlike me), even better because you can show Venice’s romantic scenes together. It will be well worth the trip!
Also a side note: The Palazzo Ducale is the only place in Venice where I saw any advertisements. Part of the building was under construction, so they had covered it with a tarp advertising makeup.