Thursday, August 23, 2007

Brenta River

I took an all day river tour today down the Brenta River between Venice and Padova. Even though it rained most of the day, it was still great fun and very interesting. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, the noble families of Venice built their 'summer homes' (summer home is rather a misnomer..these are mansions and the last one is a palace). along the Brenta River. There are about 50 of them along this stretch and my tour went into 3 of them.

I boarded the boat around 9am with about 40 others. We traveled up river which required us to go through 3 locks. It was my first time in a lock...I can only imagine what the Panama Canal is like. You can see this from the pics. Back in the day, horses would walk along the side of the river and pull the boats from Venice to Padova. Our guide was fabulous. She spent the entire day speaking in 3 languages--exhausting.

Although we werent allowed to take pictures on the inside, I got a few of the outside for you. The first was Villa Foscari and a very nice summer home...I bought it (that's me on the round rocks of my new pad!). The second I didnt care for much but the history of it was fascinating. That is also where I was eaten alive by mosquitos--8 bites in all! It was called Villa Valmarana....turns out it is owned by the Gotti family from the US. I wonder if it is the same that has that reality show on TV?

The final villa was Villa Pisani built for the 114th Doge of Venice (there were about 121 Doges I believe). It has 114 rooms--of course it does! The picture you see of me in front of the 'pond' is actually looking toward the horse stable building of the Villa! In the picture, I am looking toward the actual Villa which is basically a replica of the horse stables--to be a horse in that family, huh?! Not only was this villa incredible with the sculptures and paintings by Tiepelo, it has an incredible history. I stood in a room where Hitler and Mussolini met for the first time. And when Napolean conquered Venice and took control of the palace, he lived there for one day..yes, one day (so crazy). He had his bedroom completely decorated for him and even had a bathroom (with a sunken tub) built on his floor (2nd) which was unheard of in that day. All that for one day. In the end, he gave it to his stepson who lived there with his wife for about 7 years before the Austrians took control of Venice and claimed the villa as their own.

I could on and on with what I learned today and show you all 78 pictures I took, but I think you get the idea. I hesitated about taking this trip, but am so glad that I did.

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