Stats: Venice is the capital of the Veneto region (northeastern Italy), located in the shallow Venetian Lagoon. It is made up of 117 small islands connected by canals and bridges.
The population is about 261,000 (2012 census) with about 60,000 living in the historic district. There are 20 million visitors per year, but only about half actually sleep overnight on the islands
This is the flag of Venice, a winged lion which was the symbol of St. Mark who is the patron saint of Venice. There are several versions. This is the peace time flag. In war time the lion holds a sword instead of the open book seen here. There are other flags as well--lion holding a cross, a scroll, or different colors. This peace flag seemed to be the most popular for sale to tourists.
Other nearby island towns are Murano (famous for glass-making), Burano (noted for colorfully painted houses and lace-making), and Torcello (oldest continuously populated area of Venice). If we would have had one more day, we would have taken a boat trip to see these islands. Alas, when time is limited you have to pick and chose. We chose to cover as much of Venice proper as possible.
So back over the Rialto bridge and on to San Marco Square. We had forgotten our trusty map, so signs helped guide us. They took us through some of the most high end and interesting shopping areas. Windows were not only advertising, but in many cases, works of art. Below are just a few fun storefronts.
Limoncello store with lots of shapes and painted symbols of Venice. Other stores had a variety of penis shaped bottles filled with this refreshing liquor. Not really sure what that was all about!!
Designer and one-of-a-kind lighting and jewelry shop. Much of it incorporating murano glass.
Shoe shops. Some really fabulous and high-style and high in height designs ... most of them I could not wear now or actually ever in my lifetime. This model was 750 euros (or $822 US), but you did have a choice of loafer or sneaker!!
Moncler, a French apparel manufacture and lifestyle brand established in 1952 by designer René Ramillion. Most known for down jackets and sportswear. What caught our eye here was the robot theme. Our brother-in-law is a robotics engineer, so this type of thing always jumps out at us. The two side robots reminded us of some of the sample size models Jim has given us over the years at Christmas.
Glove shop. Every color or pattern you can imagine. I'm thinking you could have them handmade to your personal style preference and size. Tie shops also displayed a variety of colors and styles like this. You would never catch Mike in a tie though (except his original Jerry Garcia tie purchased years ago before Jerry passed).
Button, jewelry, and accessory shop, again incorporating a lot of murano glass. Also mille fiori (many flowers) style items hanging lower right.
Murano glass shop for art pieces and decor. Apparently fish and owls are a big seller.
Custom mask store. Get any theme or media combination that you could imagine and fit to your own face.
Of course the Ferrari store. We also checked out the Vespa store and got a souvenir for Mike's sis who has a anniversary-model Vespa back home in Columbus, Ohio.
And there were the food vendors. I wanted a taste at every one, but we controlled ourselves after a big breakfast at the hotel.
One of the most fascinating businesses was the "minnow eats dry skin off your feet" spa. I had heard about this kind of "service," but never had the opportunity to try it. It was 45 euros for 10 minutes, so I felt it was a little to extravagant.
Later I regretted it that decision. We really had not bought too many souvenir items for ourselves and that would have been a real treat to remember. Memories are often better than "stuff."
OK, on to the more historical side of Venice, San Marco Square.