Secret Tour, Clock Tower, and Goodbyes

Our final day in Venice was spent going on a few guided tours. Our first guided tour was a “Secret Tour” of the Doge’s Palace. The doge (also known as “Duke”) was usually the shrewdest elder of Venice and was a lifetime appointment through an election.

TIP #1:
Doge’s Palace Secret Tour: 20,50
Tickets can be purchased online in advance here

In the tour we got to explore the rooms and chambers where the delicate work of some of the most important bodies in the Venetian administration was carried out. We learned that only scribes who could not read were given the task of writing important documents so that were they ever to be caught, they would not be able to divulge any secrets. Furthermore, in case a scribe would lie about being illiterate, all documents were pieced out so that no one scribe was privy to any important information in its entirety. In the Doge’s Palace, we also were able to see where the notorious Giacamo Casanova was held prisoner. On our way to his prison, we passed by Ponte dei Sospiri, also known as the “Bridge of Sighs”, as it is the last view of Venice that convicts saw before they were imprisoned.

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VIEW OF SAINT PETER’S BASILICA FROM THE DOGE’S PALACE

TIP #2:
Torre dell’Orologio (Astronomical Clock Tower) Tour: 12,50
Tickets can be purchased online in advance here

I also went up the Torre dell’Orologio (Astronomical Clock Tower) in Piazza San Marco to see the top view of Venice. The actual clock was manually managed by weights for generations by the original clockmaker’s family (Giovan Paolo Rainieri from Northern Italy). Because the clock needed to be meticulously maintained, the doge paid him and his family to live in the Clock Tower and maintain the clock in good order. He was the first clock-keeper with the post continuing to be filled by generations of the Ranieri family. The last remaining member no longer wanted to maintain the clock and vacated in 1998. After he moved away from Venice, Swiss watchmaker Piaget came and transitioned the clock to run mechanically. They still managed to keep all the weights that were used previously, although they no longer function.

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VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE CLOCK TOWER
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THE MEN ON TOP OF THE ASTRONOMICAL CLOCK TOWER

DID YOU KNOW?
The Clock Tower was placed where the clock would be visible from the waters of the lagoon and give notice to everyone of the wealth and glory of Venice. The Doge could also see the clock from his room!

Also, Saint Mark’s Basilica is right next to the Clock Tower and at some point the city grounds were flooding with water. Venice’s solution was to have wooden benches for people to stand on while waiting in line to get into the Cathedral! At this point, Sam and I said our farewells by the water after toasting our incredible week together with mini bottles of champagne. The fact that we planned this week together whilst barely knowing each other is still mind-blowing! This trip honestly changed our entire friendship and is one that I absolutely treasure.

FUN FACT:
The tower itself was a private residence until 1998. However, because the top of the tower (where the clock actually was) was government property, it was considered a public area. As such, you would knock on the door of the clock-keeper’s home, and he would have to let you into his residence to climb to the roof

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VIEW OF SAINT MARK’S BASILICA FROM THE CLOCK TOWER
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VENETIAN CANALS
famous-gondolas
GONDOLAS OF VENICE

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS WE DIDN’T HAVE TIME FOR

  • Burano: Island in Venice known for its colorful homes
  • Murano: Island in Venice known for its exquisite handblown Venetian glass
  • San Giorgio Maggiore: Island in Venice  where you can climb up Bell tower in San Giorgio, which has a better view of Venice and is far less crowded

 

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