November 2, 2014 – Visiting the Doge’s Palace

It is a beautiful day today and we are off to visit the Doge’s Palace over in St. Mark’s Square. It’s kind of a long walk with lots of bridges and we are enjoying the sunshine and all the Venetians and tourists who are out in droves today.

Some pictures from the walk over to the Doge’s Palace –

John in front of our apartment
John in front of our apartment

View down the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge
View down the Grand Canal from the Accademia Bridge

View up the Grand Canal
View up the Grand Canal

St. Mark's Square
St. Mark’s Square

Basilica San Marco (still being restored)
Basilica San Marco (still being restored)

Sharing a wall with the basilica is the Doge’s Palace. In fact until around the 12th century the basilica was the private chapel of the doge.
The Doge's Palace on the right with the Basilica San Marco behind it
The Doge’s Palace on the right with the Basilica San Marco behind it

At first we decide that we will just follow the self-guided tour and read the placards which are conveniently posted in three languages. Since English is the second language of the world, it is always included. (In fact today a Russian family was having lunch at the same time as we were. The Italian waiter could not understand Russian and the Russians could not understand Italian so they all spoke English. We’ve seen this a lot.) Getting back to the palace visit, the explanations on the placards are very lengthy and require looking back and forth from the placard to the object that it is describing. It is just too onerous and we decide that we are better off using the audio tour.

The palace is immense and was not only the doge’s house but also the seat of government where our audio guide says that the functions of executive, legislative, and judicial branches were carried out. We are not sure that this is a picture of an early modern form of government since many of the same people were doing all the jobs. Not exactly a separation of powers.

Here are some pictures from the palace –

The courtyard
The courtyard

The always interesting Hall of Maps
The always interesting Hall of Maps

A sculpture of the head of Doge Francesco Foscari by Bartolomeo Bon
A sculpture of the head of Doge Francesco Foscari by Bartolomeo Bon

At this point John takes the camera and snaps off quite an array of artwork. I’ve asked him to pick out a few of his favorites.
St. Christopher by Titian
St. Christopher by Titian

On the ceiling Tintoretto's Doge with the Holy Family
On the ceiling Tintoretto’s Doge with the Holy Family

Tiepolo painting near the end of Venetian power is rather tired looking Venice (the woman) and her symbolic lion
Tiepolo painting near the end of Venetian power is rather tired looking Venice (the woman) and her symbolic lion

We visited the Doge’s Palace when we took Sarah and Jonathan on a Grand Tour in 1998(?). One of the rooms that they enjoyed was the Hall of Scrutiny. Actually its function was for vetting future doges and office holders. But at our house ever afterward when someone said something a little unbelievable, we would give them the gimlet eye and say sonorously, Hall of Scrutiny!. (A little of our weird family humor)
The Hall of Scrutiny
The Hall of Scrutiny

Needless to say our minute examination of the Doge’s Palace takes up the better part of the day which means at 4 PM we have not eaten lunch. Eating near St. Mark’s Square is a dodgy business since many proprietors are not really interested in serving the hordes of tourists the best food but are interested in charging the most expensive prices. But we duck into a little alleyway on the route back to our apartment and are pleasantly surprised by a well-prepared lunch/dinner.

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