Monday, February 8, 2010: (Alexander) Starting with breakfast we head on over to the Doge’s palace over 5 bridges to get to the St. Mark’s Square. Once we get there we stand in line until we buy our tickets. Once inside we see pillars with stories of people who were arrested for committing crimes like stealing, arguing, killing, and not paying taxes. They were arrested by letters describe what crime and who had done the crime. These letters were put into one 36 crime mailboxes that had faces with a mouth to put the letter into (see the picture of a lion with an open mouth). Our guide leads us up the golden staircase and brings us to the secret rooms on the top floor of the Doge’s palace. The secret rooms were small, but hidden from the public. In the hidden rooms, lawyers, tax people, and generals made decisions about what they would do and what they had done. For example, secret plans about fighting strategies were put into little boxes and stored away ready for any battle. There were two types of hidden jails, one upstairs and one downstairs. The passageways to the jails were very hidden because they did not want anyone to escape or have others on the outside help people escape. However, a hero named Casanova escaped. He was put into jail because he slept with many wives from the Venetian leaders and one was the wife of the General Chancellor. The wives told Casanova the secret strategies and secret papers that were not supposed to be told. As a result, the General Chancellor got really mad and sent him to jail. Even though they put him into the top notched jail, he was able to escape by making a hole under his bed from an iron bar that he found on his daily walk inside the prison. Next we walked through the Doges’ palace. In one of the rooms, there was the biggest oil painting in the world the ‘Paradiso’ by Sebastian who died before he finished. His son finished the painting. Next we saw St. George slaying the dragon and we were scared. After we leave the palace, we toured the St. Mark’s Basilica. In here we see really colossal mosaics – probably the biggest in the world. The mosaics were made out of gold leaf and glass for making it shiny and shimmering in the light. What was really cool was that in the middle dome of the church, there was a mosaic of Jesus risen, not on the cross like the other churches we have seen. In the St. Mark’s treasury, there were jars and all kinds of gold covered bones of people like St. George the dragon slayer (yah right), and St. Peter’s hand, and other body parts of Popes and Kings. At the top of the cathedral we saw four life-sized bronze horses that came from Constantinople and earlier from Alexander the Great in Greece. After strolling around and getting lost in the maze of Venice walkways, we find a Ferrari shop with a real racecar. On our walk we have gelatti, see many gondolas, see – food (get it), and a trashcan with a sign that tells you not to eat, lie down, or sit in the Square. For us this is a silly law, but for them its not because they want tourists to spend more money eating at restaurants. On our walk, we go over the Rialto Bridge, famous for shops, food, and gondolas. In the evening, the stage for Carnival is lit up and the St. Mark’s Lion which is made from plants, veggies and fruits, and looks amazing. I was so hungry that I wanted to eat the apple-artichoke display. But the police didn’t let me.