Saturday, 22 April 1978
Fine, warm, sunny
Early start. Followed a mountain stream. Peaks on both sides. Very high mountains covered with snow, precipitous sides but road followed stream between hills. In narrow parts road has been supported on piles. Past villages that were devastated in earthquake 12-18 months ago. Along the autostrade – very fast road – bus travelled at 130 km to hotel outside Venice for lunch at 12. Hotel on road to Chioggia.
Bus into Venice 20 minutes. Left at Roma Square and took water bus to Rialto. Walked to St Marks Square through a maze of narrow alleys crowded with little shops. Guided tour – bell tower, clock tower, Bridge of Sighs. Taken into the cathedral. Many mosaics. Saw glass blowing. Elsie purchased liqueur set (40,000), vase (30,000) and tall vase (38,000) – 108,000 lira (£70 stg).
Group loaded onto five gondolas, very choppy on main canal. Gondoliers waited for each other even though the place was busy with boats and five abreast we slowly went down the canal. In one gondola was a fellow with a piano accordion. He played a number or two then another fellow we had not noticed before stood up and started to sing, O Sole Mio. Crowded water buses slowed down to have a look as we were serenaded. When we came to a side canal to turn off, some barges were in the way and there was a great argument for 5 minutes to have them shifted. We moved very slowly up the little canal and the fellow started singing songs again. The buildings on either side were four-storey’s high and people opened their windows and stuck their heads out to look and listen. As we came to the little overpass bridges we were photographed and one bloke in the house above got out his movie camera.
Was a very crowded and long ride back to Roma Square at 7.35. Back to hotel at 8.05 and dinner.