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I'm an Aussie who likes wandering all over the world but keeps coming back home to paradise and my family. If you are reading this on one of my travel blogs, I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them. If you are reading the Diabetes and weight loss blog - I hope it helps in your battle with the beast. Cheers, Alan

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Venice, Aquileia and Trieste

We arrived in Venice in different ways on the two trips.

In 2003 we cruised slowly up the Adriatic on the car-ferry from Patras in Greece. The sea was as smooth as glass and the trip was peaceful and uneventful; I enjoyed the quiet interlude. The sea entry into Venice is wonderful. I have to recommend it as the best possible way to arrive in that town; to slowly see the distant shapes appear and grow to be recognisable and then to glide quietly by the lagoon entrance and the outer islands as those marvellous buildings come into view.

In 2006 we drove from Florence via the back roads, deliberately avoiding major roads wherever possible. That led to a very interesting day, first in the hills North-East of Florence, wandering through the small villages and towns, and then through the flat-lands of the Po estuary, with quite different villages and farms to those in the Tuscan hills.

Venice has been described a million times before by better-informed authors than I. I won’t pretend to be erudite about the Doge’s Palace, or the other Palaces and Cathedral’s – let the pictures suffice.

We just wandered around as wide-eyed tourists through this fabulous, flawed city with it’s wonderful history of mediaeval power, trade, discovery and culture. My earlier wanders in Greece had reminded me of the importance of Venetian traders – and conquerors – in those times.

The wealth of Europe was funnelled through Venice for centuries, and high culture followed the wealth.

In 2003 we stayed in Le Mestre, mainly because we needed to park the car, at the 4* Hotel Sirio booked via http://www.venere.com/. It would equate to about 2.5* in US or Australian terms – but that’s true of most European hotels and it turned out to be a very pleasant stay;
we also enjoyed the trip in and out on the nearby bus to the islands. To me, those suburban bus trips can be part of the enjoyment of the visit, seeing a city from a side it doesn’t always show to tourists.

In 2006 we stayed at the Holiday Inn in Le Marghera, booked via Priceline. It was closer to a US 4* - but I would never stay there again or recommend it. Too many little problems – the traffic nearby, problems in the restaurant, poor customer advice; enough said. The bus was a long walk through a dark suburb at night to that hotel, and the shuttle ran at limited times. Sirio was far better.

While staying in Venice we spent some time driving in the hinterland, up North to the small villages and towns. We got lost without worrying, stopped in little village squares, browsed through small shops and had a lovely lunch in a village which was holding a "red wine tasting" fete with lots of small food stalls outside the wine marquee. I have no idea where we were - just somewhere 50-80km north-ish of Venice. It was a magical day, one of my favourites on the trip
The receptionist in the hotel asked where we were headed and then recommended that we drop in on Aquileia on the way to Trieste. I'm so glad we did, one of those unexpected things you find when you don't really have an itinerary.

Aquileia is now just a tiny town with some remnants of it's once great past. Founded in the 2nd century BC it became one of the major centres of the Roman Empire in the 2nd-4th century AD and was also the seat for bishops then and later in early mediaeval times in the Holy Roman Empire.

But nearly all that is gone now, and it is a sleepy town where the locals are probably outnumbered by tourists; although when we arrived it was quiet with only the occasional school group.

Very little is left of the early Roman days, after centuries of battles at the crossroads of Europe. What the Huns, Venetians and others didn't destroy was finished off by an earthquake in 1348; and later variations in the level of the Adriatic submerged everything in mud.
The Cathedral stands on a site consecrated in the 4th century, but the present one was built around the 11th and 12th.

The wonderful mosaic floors were preserved by a mud cover for centuries; the diversion to Aquileia was worth it just to see them.

We drove on to Trieste for dinner. This ancient Adriatic port seemed a little unexciting after the magnificence of Venice and Aquileia.

Next, we cross the old iron curtain and wander off to Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech.

Cheers, Alan

1 comment:

  1. Sandy9:39 am

    Alan, thanks for sharing your wonderful travel adventures with us. It reminded me of my trip to Berlin right after the wall came down. It was a wonderful trip and one I never dreamed to taking. Your photos and commentary are absolutely wonderful. Thanks, again, for sharing.

    Sandy (ADA T2 Message Board)