Slacking at Piazza San Marco

The day I was at the Piazza San Marco in Venice, it was bustling with large crowds…people had settled like birds wherever they got even a foot of seating space, spreading their bags, food and books around them, slacking off and schmoozing in the ambiance of live music in the vicinity of eager pigeons that are always waiting to be fed. Wonder if this is what Napoleon had in mind when he called the Piazza “the finest drawing room in Europe.” :-)

Piazza of San Marco, Venice

The Piazza  is the principal public square of Venice and has been the social, religious and political center of the city. On the two sides of the Piazza, facing each other are cafes where you can sit and take in the splendor of this incredibly amazing place. In the evenings, each cafe boasts orchestras that the passers-by enjoy for free. There’s actually quite a competition between the orchestras as they challenge each other for the attention of the tourists.

Piazza of San Marco,  St. Marks Square, Venice

This great square overlooks the lagoon and  is a heady mix of spaces, volumes and styles: the Procurator’s residence, the bell tower, the Doge’s Palace and the Sansoviniana library.

Campanile di San Marco, or Bell tower of St. Mark's, Venice

Campanile di San Marco, or Bell tower of St. Mark’s

After a good dose of slacking, I finally decided to climb the stairs of the Bell Tower or Campanile di San Marco for an aerial view of the city. You can also take an elevator to the top. Although “campanile” means “bell tower,” the Campanile di San Marco did double duty as a military watchtower when it was constructed in the 10th Century.

Did you know that The Campanile was ‘taken over’ briefly by Northern Italian separatists in May, 1997. No one was hurt in the slapstick hijacking by the “Most Serene Venetian Army.” :-)

The Doge's Palace, Piazza of San Marco, Venice

The Doge’s Palace

The other dominant building around St. Mark’s Square is the Doge’s Palace that housed Venice’s rulers for more than six centuries. A beautiful gothic structure, it faces the Venetian lagoon and connects to the adjacent Prigioni Nuove (“New Prisons”) via the Bridge of Sighs.

Winged Lion of Saint Mark, Venice

Near the Doge’s Palace is the Piazzetta (little piazza) San Marco. It is known for the two columns located there that pay homage to two of Venice’s patrons – St. Mark and St. Teodoro of Amasea. The columns have long served as the official gateway to the city. But it is hardly romantic to realize that until the mid 18th century, the piazetta was also an area were criminals were executed :-(
Torre dell'Orologio, the Clock Tower, Piazza San Marco, venice

Torre dell’Orologio, the Clock Tower

On the opposite side of St Marks square to the bell tower is the  Torre Dell’Orologio - the Clock Tower. The tower holds the large blue clock with golden decorations to represent the signs of the zodiac. On a terrace at the top of the tower are two great bronze figures known as “the Moors” who strike the hours on a bell. One is old and the other young, to show the passing of time.

Below the clock is the archway through which the street known as the Merceria leaves the Piazza on its way to the Rialto.

Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Basilica di San Marco

The centerpiece of the piazza is, of course, the magnificent St. Mark’s Basilica, built in Venetian-Byzantine style, a mixture of western and eastern styles and famous for its huge domes and gilded mosaics. Nicknamed the “Church of Gold” because of its opulence, it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice.

St. Mark and the angels, Venice

St. Mark and the angels

The exterior of the basilica is quite ornate and has been added to over the centuries. It’s said that whenever Venetian vessels returned from the Orient, they brought something for the basilica.

See more stories with Letter “P” here in Frizz Text’s Story Challenge

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3 thoughts on “Slacking at Piazza San Marco

  1. hi Deepali, thank you for your story about the “Piazza San Marco” in Venice – once, when I was there, I was shocked by a seagull: she killed a pigeon – during tourists were feeding the other pigeons; seagulls can be very cruel; I don’t know why I can’t accept this. Maybe in one of my earlier lifes I have been a pigeon? Maybe I should try to live as a seagull next turn?

    1. OMG that is scary! I’ve seen hordes of pigeons attacking any bit of food thrown around, but they’re harmless and actually give a certain character to this place :-) I don’t think a nice soul like you can ever be a seagull in any life.. a dove, maybe ;-)

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