After a long night of packing (and questioning certain purchases that now made our burden even heavier), we had our last breakfast at the Foresteria Gould in Florence, said good-bye to Ani and Marta, and walked 10 minutes to meet our charter bus in Piazza Tasso at 9:00. The final leg of our journey to Venice began.

The bus was large enough for everyone to have two seats to themselves, so it was a comfortable 4-hour ride. Mid-way, we stopped at a “truck stop” — more like a “truck super center” for snacks and even some last minute gift-buying. Once in Venice, we unloaded at Piazzale Roma, a new transfer point in the city, approximate to the vaporetti (water buses) that would ultimately take us to a stop near San Marco, the closest to our hotel. 26 people with more than 50 pieces of luggage were transported through the canals that make up Venice’s thoroughfare. The magic of the cityscape was lost on no one, even those of us who have been here before. Undulating light and shadow, incredible colors, and the atmosphere of water and sunshine are indescribable. We were duly entranced!

From the Zaccharia vaporetto stop, it is a relatively quick walk to the Foresteria Valdese. Well, quick if you discount the following factors:

1) Narrow passageways.

2) Throngs of tourists (for every 100 Venetians on a daily basis, there are 89 tourists in town).

3) The aforementioned 26 people with no less than two bags apiece.

4) Bridges, lots of bridges.

We checked in to our rooms and lugged our baggage up four flights of steps to the second floor of the Foresteria. Exhausted but excited, we agreed to meet later in the afternoon to walk to Piazza San Marco and do what we do best: ascend the camponile! While we are certainly in great shape at this point in the trip, we did not get the opportunity to climb the tower — the top is only accessible by elevator. Our timing was perfect; the bells rang at the top of the hour and we were treated to an amazing view of La Serenissima, Venezia!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Back down to the piazza (the only one in Venice meriting the name — all others are called piazzale) and a short walk to the restaurant, Le Piramidi. There, Gino (the owner) and Jeff (our server) offered pasta or pizza with a choice of beverage.

We headed out on a night time vaporetto ride (everyone had 7 day passes) and then home to get some sleep. Tomorrow, the Bienalle!