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A Palace and A Basilica

You can't be in Venice and not visit the home of the Doges, so on a stunning sunny morning our wonderful resident art historians, Louisa Warman and Susan Steer took the group around the Ducal Palace. With the whole place illuminated by the sun, and hardly anyone else there we had it more or less to ourselves. History, art, ritual and glory all around, it left the group dazed, but ready for our amazing private, night time visit to the Basilica, once the private chapel of the Doges until the beginning of the 19th century. 8000 square metres of gold in the mosaics that were gradually lit up as we sat beneath. Then we went around to the back of the altar to admire the exquisite Palla d'Oro, the priceless altarpiece, compiled from dozens of gold and enamel panels purchased or looted from Byzantine churches in Constantinople and others created by Venetian craftsmen from the 10th to the 14th centuries. Many thanks to our dear friend, Nick True, who led the visit to the church.

The next day, on one of our 'walkabouts' we treated ourselves to the delicious carnival 'fritelle' and coffees at my favourite cafe, Tonolo...