Gondolas lined up along the Grand Canal, waiting to give rides to tourists like us. The Grand Canal snakes through Venice, bisecting the city.
Old palazzi (the offices and houses of great merchant families) line the Grand Canal
Every house and street has a place to tie up boats
A traghetto (water taxi) to ferry people from one side of the Grand Canal to another
The flag of Venice, with the winged lion of St. Mark
The Rialto fish and produce markets have been operating for 900 years.
The 16th century Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge over the Grand Canal
The view from Rialto Bridge
Melissa's mother, Pam, at Rialto Bridge
Palazzo windows in the medieval Venetian- Byzantine style . . .
. . . And in the slightly later Gothic style.
More Gothic windows
Many houses on the Grand Canal have plain facades now . . .
. . . but originally they were highly painted and decorated
All of the supplies the city needs have to arrive by boat
Melissa's mother in a gondola
Chris and Melissa in a gondola
San Stae, a Baroque church near our apartment
With little terra firma, Venetians do most of their gardening in pots
Old carvings embedded in the wall of a house
Venice is laced with hundreds of small canals, streets, and alleys. This is a quiet canal near our apartment.
Venice isn't all water; there are a few biggish plazas
The 14th century church of San Stefano with its ship's-keel roof
Spiral staircase on the back of a palazzo
Wooden ceiling in San Giacomo dell'Orio, one of Venice's oldest churches.
Extremely old carving of the Madonna in San Giacomo dell'Orio
Alterpiece by Titian in the church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (and some of the only stained glass windows we saw in Venice)
Titian's Madonna di Ca' Pisaro in the Frari church.
Amazing 15th-century inlayed wood choir stalls in Frari church
Frari choir stalls
Frari choir stalls
Bellini's triptych in the Frari church with its amazing jewel-like tones.
Tintoretto's wall-sized Crucifixion in the Scuola Grande di San Rocco.
The Venetian Lagoon contains hundreds of islands, large and small. This is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore, with Lido island in the background.
A 12th-century mosaic floor in the Church of Santi Maria e Donato on the glassmakers' island of Murano.
The mosiac floor incudes early glass, as well as stone
The nearly deserted island of Torcello, site of a major settlement between the 5th and 15th centuries.
Torcello's 9th century church was Venice's first cathedral
Another wonderful inlaid stone floor, this one from the 11th century
A 12th-century mosaic of the Madonna and Child in Torcello's cathedral
More Byzantine-style mosaics in Torcello
Carved peacocks in the Torcello cathedral
This 11th century church on Torcello (Santa Fosca) was hosting a wedding the day we visited
The island of Burano is famous for lace making and colorful houses
Melissa's mom loved the roses in bloom
Burano is still largely a fishing community
Nothing symbolizes Venice as much as Piazza San Marco, with its basilica, iconic bell tower, mobs of pigeons, and palace of the doge (the elected leader of the city).
Two giant columns flank the seaside entrance to the piazza
This San Marco belltower is a reconstruction; the original collapsed in 1902
Convicted prisoners crossed the Bridge of Sighs on their way from the courts to the prison
The doge's palace (Palazzo Ducale) was also home to the city's various governing councils
Carvings above the main entrance to the Palazzo Ducale.
A statue of four kings in porphyry stone brought from the Middle East
Loggia on the doge's palace
The Roman bronze horses were stolen from Constantinople during the Crusades
Eastern influences are visible in the mosaics and the pierced stone screens
The 1506 Torre dell'Orologio still keeps time (shown here at 8:30 a.m.)
The Basilica of San Marco, which dates from 1094, was originally the doge's private chapel
Vast Piazza San Marco in a rare moment before the tour groups arrive
Napolean called the piazza "the finest drawing room in Europe"
Piazza San Marco as seen from the belltower
Looking down on the Torre dell'Orologio
The domes of San Marco Basilica
One of the bells that rings out over Venice
A slot in the doge's palace where Venetians could leave messages reporting people to the authorities