|Piazza San Marco, Venice|
The predominant feature of the square is St. Mark's Basilica with its multitude of domes, glittering mosaics and large bell tower (campanile). Unfortunately much of the basilica's exterior was covered by scaffolding at the time of our visit (July 2014).
|Clock Tower (left) and Basilica of San Marco (right)|
|Mosaics Depicting the Return of St. Mark's Remains to Venice|
|The Clock Tower of San Marco|
The other three sides of the square are enclosed by a grand colonnade – a convenient place to escape from the sun on a hot summer day. In the south colonnade is Caffé Florian, the first café in Europe and in Casanova's time, the only meeting place in Venice to allow women. We had lunch here on my first visit to Venice.
|Caffé Florian Orchestra|
|Caffé Florian Interior|
Many visitors take an elevator ride up St. Mark's Bell Tower to take in the sweeping views of Venice and the lagoon. Admission is €8.
|Bell Tower Entrance|
We chose to enjoy the panorama from another vantage point on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. This small island is directly across the basin from Piazza San Marco and reached by the #2 vaporetto from the San Zaccaria stop.
|San Giorgio Maggiore|
The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore was designed in the 16th century by Andrea Palladio.
|The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore|
Standing in front of the church was a unique art installation by German artist Heinz Mack, The Sky Over Nine Columns.
|The Sky Over Nine Columns by Heinz Mack|
Inside the church was more art, including three works by Renaissance painter, Tintoretto.
|Bronze Globe on the Altar|
|The Last Supper, Tintoretto|
|Manna From Heaven, Tintoretto|
There was no lineup for the bell tower elevator and, unlike San Marco, the windows have no grillwork to obstruct the view. Admission was €6.
|Top of the Bell Tower|
|The Bells of San Giorgio Maggiore|
The skies were clear and the views were worth the boat trip. The photos below move counter-clockwise, beginning with the view to the north of St. Mark's Bell Tower and the Doge's Palace.
|North - St. Mark's Bell Tower and the Doge's Palace|
|West - Dorsoduro and La Salute Church|
|West - Giudecca Island and the Cipriani Hotel|
|The Borges Labyrinth|
|South - The Lido and the Adriatic Sea Beyond|
|East - Castello and the Venetian Arsenale|
Near the base of the bell tower there's a small alcove with the original wooden statue of an angel that once stood on top of the bell tower. It was damaged by lightning in 1993 and replaced by a copy. A nearby display case held what appears to be a golden crown.
|Original Bell Tower Angel|
Back outside again we ventured around the left side of the church to the small marina and Bar San Giorgio. This little restaurant was a quiet, scenic spot for an inexpensive lunch (€3.80 for a panini).
|Lighthouse on San Giorgio Maggiore|
The views from the top of the tower of San Giorgio Maggiore were spectacular but the scene at ground level was pretty impressive too.
Venice, La Serenissima