We’d been pretty upbeat about the weather, but when we woke on Saturday to more rain, we were bumming. Once again armed with umbrellas and rain jackets, we forged on with our plan from the day previous working our way toward the famous Rialto bridge by way of Scuola San Rocco and the Frari church. Both of these places were amazing in their own right and both very different. Scuolo San Rocco is referred to as Tintoretto’s Sistine Chapel because the artist painted his own rendition of the period from Adam and Eve to Christ’s resurrection on an even bigger ceiling than the Sistine. And this one is in a much less-crowded environment. Plus, they provide mirrors so you can get a good look at the ceiling without craning your neck.
The Frari Church is impressive in scope and houses many famous dead Venetians. The coolest aspect of it, in my opinion, is the carved choir seats and the altar screen featuring the apostles carved in the top of it. Of course, as it is a church, no photos were allowed. (sidenote: this didn't seem to stop many, many people from snapping images in all the churches we visited. I chose to follow the rules. Big surprise, right?)
By this time, our older son was definitely on church overload so when our younger son saw a sign for the da Vinci museum, we agreed. In this museum, people have used da Vinci’s drawings and notes to re-create some of his inventions and the kids can manipulate many of them. It’s only a few rooms and, in my opinion, not really worth the charge, but if you have a museum pass and kids in tow, definitely worth a peek. A plus? If it’s as cold and rainy as it was when we were there, the museum was toasty warm, whereas neither the San Rocco nor the Frari were heated. Brrr…
Hungry from all that looking at old stuff, we worked our way through puddles and dodged umbrellas to the Rialto bridge. I’d heard it was a busy place, but that in no way prepared me for the crowds. And every person seemed to be seeking the bit of refuge from rain that we were seeking. We searched out Cafe Vergnano, recommended for views of the Grand Canal, but the only seats available were on the second floor with no windows. By this point, we were experiencing a fair amount of tourist fatigue, not to mention we were all a bit damp and chilled. Tom lightened the mood by asking us all to lay on the table, metaphorically speaking, our three complaints about the cafe. They included the weird electronic runway/club music, the fact that all the upper windows were covered by posters of the restaurant, and our table’s proximity to the WC. By the amount of traffic going in and out of that bathroom, you would have thought either it was the only one in town or someone was dealing drugs in the back. At one point no less than five teenage girls went in there together. I don’t know how they all fit and they were in there for a while, too. Fortunately, the food was great and after gobbling up our lunch, we returned downstairs to take our coffee and dessert by the window where we watched the rain fall in the canal.
After taking the obligatory photo on the Rialto bridge, we were all pretty much done trouncing through puddles, so we thought we’d grab a water taxi for a ride down the Grand Canal to our hotel, but when the guy quoted us 60 euro, we decided that it wasn’t really raining all that bad after all.
By the time we made it back to our hotel, we were bedraggled and tired. By dinner time, the rain was getting worse rather than better. Tom and I surprised the kids with perfect end to our rainy time in Venice. We ordered pizza and brought it back to the room where we ate in pj’s on the bed and watched a movie.
Looking back at all that I’ve written about Venice, it seems that maybe I didn’t have a wonderful time. I was entranced by Venice and the kids said that they enjoyed it more than Rome. The pace is wonderfully relaxed and the environment hauntingly magical and the people kind and helpful. Venice won me over completely and I'd love to experience again during a sunnier, warmer season.