Our first stop ended up heading up the stairs to the balcony on the roof for the view and to look down from the galley into the church itself. I found it quite dark after the bright sunlight outside. They have a small museum on the upper levels and we toured that before heading outside.
The famous porphyry statue of the Four Tetrarchs represents the interdependence of the four rulers.
Models of the Basilica
Interesting - no flash and it's much brighter than it appeared when in the basilica itself.
Under the dome.
A detail of all the really small pieces that create the fresco's. They're about 1/2 inch in size.
Samples of the frescoes in the museum
The original horses of St. Mark - kept indoors with replica's in their place.
The replica horses in place.
And the amazing view that was worth the climb.
St Mark's Clocktower - at the top of each hour the little brass figures bang on the bell tolling out the time.
The clock face in blue and gold inside a fixed circle of marble engraved with the 24 hours of the day in Roman numerals. A golden pointer with an image of the sun moves round the circle and indicates the hour of the day. Beneath the sun pointer are the signs of the zodiac in gold (these are original and date from the 1490s), which revolve slightly more slowly than the pointer to show the position of the sun in the zodiac. In the middle of the clockface is the earth (in the centre) and the moon, which revolves to show its phases, surrounded by stars which are fixed in position. The background is of blue enamel.
A better view of the clock details.
The roof slants downwards and it's marble so you can imagine how slippery this can get. Here is where my fear of heights took over.
The intricate inlaid marble floors.
We actually did try to find our way back again, but gave up when we got lost and once more spotted the square. Water taxi back to the hotel and an afternoon nap for both of us as we realized that our trip was coming to an end. With that in mind I vowed to go out and walk around after dark with our without my son.
The intricate Venetian masks
Some of these are really amazing in their details. I was tempted to buy one but had no idea where I would put it or how well it would travel so I kept talking myself out of it.
I so didn't want our time in Venice to end but we had a flight the next day and scampered off to bed.
The next day as if sad to see us go the sky's opened up and poured rain - so much so that we were concerned our flight was going to be delayed. Eventually though we did take off and returned exhausted but happy to be home.
Now... back to reality.
HINDSIGHT: So what would I do differently? Since this was a last minute decision to book this trip and I didn't have the time for research, we booked with a tour. I would definitely book more time and do more research on the trip as I would have liked to spend more time in some of the locations. I found the tours too rushed and basically it was just a skimming over type of tour to take everything in. The pace was too rushed and I would definitely leave myself more down time for jetlag. The hotels we were shown on the trip changed at the last minute and I think I would like to do more research on the hotels and book direct in order to assure myself I was getting what I paid for. I think it might have been worth the extra cash.
I would definitely take more taxi's in Rome since the price was reasonable once you were within the tourist areas, and of course August is not the time to visit. Too many tourists and while I would have liked to visit the coastal area's, I was advised by some of the other tourists that they found the coastline just too crowded. Keep in mind that Venice is really expensive and prepare for the water taxi experience. For me it was worth it - how often will I be in Venice?
Next year when a lot of the renovations are completed is the best time to go in my opinion. So again, do your research.
I spent a lot of time researching restaurants since I have a sensitive system. However, all of the food was fantastic in Italy and I needn't have bothered.
Overall - it was a great trip and I would definitely visit again.
NOTE: I went a bit nuts with posting so many images, but since I've frequenting traveled vicariously through other blogs I included as many as I could so other's could do the same and enjoy the experience. Thank you to all those blogs that post such stunning photo's. It feeds my travel bug when I'm unable to get away.