Ducale’s Palace and a Towering View
21 July 2013
After our relaxed morning, we began The Museums. Four to see, all in St Mark’s Square.
On the way there (and back this afternoon) some locals.
The Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) is an immense building that, for many hundreds of years, was the seat of political, industrial and military power in Venice. It housed the various legislative councils, law courts, armoury and jail cells.
Inside it is lavishly decorated, reminiscent of the style of decoration we saw in the Vatican, most of it dating from the late 16th century, when it was restored after a fire. Extraordinary ceilings covered with paintings (usually of doges being ‘crowned’ by angels, and the like) framed with gaudy gold-painted wooden mouldings. We walked through a number of waiting and council rooms, all with very impressive wooden furniture in the form of fixed seating around the edges. Unfortunately, again, no photos allowed. (Although people tried — and were constantly told off by the ‘watchers’ seated in each room.)
Of particular interest, though, was the armoury. On display were numerous swords, combination sword-musket things, maces, suits of armour, crossbows, lances, arquebuses and flint-lock rifles. Fascinating. How any of the soldiers ever rode a horse in a suit of armour remains a mystery; the suggestion that they managed to wield one of those gigantic lances at the same time must surely be merely mythical! Most of the weaponry on display dated from the 16th to 17th centuries.
After several hours wending our way slowly through the palace (and then the bookshop) which wasn’t very crowded, we found ourselves back outside in the piazza again about four o’clock. There was no line to go up the campanile (bell tower) which has a lift, so we paid our eight euros each to have a look. Eight euros seemed like a lot to me just to look at a view, but it was well worth it: elevation is the only way to get an overview of where everything is. Again, I have a number of images that need to be stitched together in a panorama later.
The pontoon bridge constructed annually for the Redentore Festival across the Canale Della Giudecca from Spirito Santo (or thereabouts) to Campo del Redentore, taking worshippers to the special service at the church there.
On the way home, Dave bought a watch (which he has needed for a long time — so he doesn’t have to keep asking me what the time is!) It is made in Italy, and has the same face as the clock on Saint Mark’s Basilica: 24-hour Roman numerals, with signs of the zodiac included. (Why a Catholic Church has signs of the zodiac on its clock is puzzling to me.) Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually tell 24-hour time — it works just like a normal watch, but it looks cool, and is well made. Something just a bit different.