So rich. So square. So Doge.
Another late start today, but all we were planning on doing today was hanging out around St. Mark’s Square, seeing the Doge’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica.
On the way in I couldn’t help but notice the POS terminals at the Doge’s Palace ticket counter were running some version of Debian. It’s cute that Europe supports open source software.
The Doge’s Palace was impressive in every way. Its gothic architecture didn’t appeal to me at first but its appearance is deceptive. My first thought was “this place is fucking ugly.” From the outside, it’s just a giant box with a very gothic/Arabic flair.
It’s what’s on the inside that counts though. Or so my mother tells me.
Its boxy exterior gives way to a courtyard of equal geometric fetish.
Somewhere in the courtyard they have a full-sized gondola on display. Those things are a lot bigger than they look in the water.
Many of the stairway ceilings are decorated with fresco and paint. The main ones are gilded with gold, because why not? Corruption and opulence go hand-in-hand.
Surprisingly it wasn’t crowded, though it was hot. There’s a bag check, so no backpacks, but purses seemed to be acceptable. I don’t think they let me bring my camera bag, but that’s OK since I’m always looking for an excuse to strap both of them on.
It was here that we found ourselves inadvertently trailing a tour group and listening to their guide talk about everything around us. Like driftwood though, we’d ultimately get separated from one group and end up joining the flow of another.
The Four Doors Room
This is just an antechamber to several other rooms, but it’s quite ornate for a transitory room.
The Council Chamber
Here met two independent governing bodies, one that concerned itself with mainland affairs, the other which concerned itself with maritime affairs.
The Senate Chamber
This was the meeting room for a limited subcommittee made up of select members of other councils and other assorted aristocrats.
The Chamber of the Council of Ten
At some point in history, some aspiring Italians decided to try to overthrow the government. It didn’t go so well for them, and a special tribunal was set up to investigate and dispose of them discreetly.
Let this be a case study in why you should never trust the government when they try to convince you that a solution is only going to be temporary.
Atlanta had something like that. “Let’s set up a toll booth temporarily,” they said, “to finance the construction of this new highway! Once it’s paid off, then we’ll tear it down.”
18 years later, the toll booth remained for years after it was paid off. The incumbent governor won the support of the transportation board to keep it open to finance other projects, thus twisting the scope of the project into something more self-serving. It would still be collecting tolls to this day if not for an opportunistic politician seeking election who used its destruction as an anti-government soapbox to garner popular support for his own transportation bill.
Anyway, granting governments special power during times of crisis are like software features– once your users have them, trying to take it away and insist they don’t need it is like excising hemorrhoids. So naturally this special tribunal became a permanent institution, whereby the ruling Doge and their council served as judge, jury and executioner, whisking dissidents to their demise in secret trials. Once you can smite people with the stroke of a pen, why would you give that up?
Adjacent to the palace is a dungeon facility, and linking the two is a small bridge colloquially known as the Bridge of Sighs. It is named such because it was the last view of the outside world beyond the gates of the palace that convicted or condemned prisoners would ever see. The palace was a one-stop-shop for arresting, trying, convicting, and executing whoever crossed the Doge. Keeping it all in-house would certainly make it easy to keep critics from ever being heard from again, and was undoubtedly used for such purposes.
The Chrono Connection
Somewhere along the way I surmised that the famed womanizer Casanova was once imprisoned here. Wandering around, I had this odd feeling of deja vu, like I’ve seen all this before. Like I had witnessed the story of another young Casanova who met a similar fate…
Well, that’s one way to start a romance.
It ultimately results in his arrest on charges of kidnapping and subsequent Kafka-esque trial in an opulent gold-gilded trial hall, complete with men of authority wearing silly hats…
Even though the presence of a judge gives the illusion of an impartial trial, the useless council members remain useless and everybody goes through the motions but the Doge/Chancellor’s conclusion is always the same…
What follows is a death march across the bridge spanning the courthouse and prison, offering the last view of freedom our protagonist is to ever see.
And ultimately, confinement in a tiny cell while awaiting his impending execution.
Of course the next event is a timely escape, whereupon you liberate your alleged victim from the clutches of her father and fight the Doge/Chancellor in his native Yak-monster form on the floor of the Senate. I don’t have photographs depicting that, but I suppose the equivalent boss battle of this prison would be being locked in a room and forced to read Scripture.
Casanova himself was held in the Doge’s prison multiple times (he kept escaping) and was eventually sentenced to death for being such an unincarceratable pain in the ass, which, much like our young abductor, forced him to permanently flee Venice lest the sentence be carried out.
I know the Japanese idolize the Italians as being classy as shit (if you’ve ever been to a love hotel in Japan you’d see what I mean) so it was cool to be able to identify what was clearly the influence behind one of the most moving gaming experiences of my childhood. You get a lot of positive impressions of the justice system from public education and Schoolhouse Rock. This was the first impression ever made on me that the justice system exists to silence plebes who inconvenience the ruling class.
The armory was interesting; on display are a lot of swords and early firearms used by the military over the ages.
Pointy sticks are hardly the pinnacle of technological advancement. So to make people like me happy, they have various firearms on display, as well as a gatling gun, and even a cannon.
This corridor had some side rooms I couldn’t figure out the purpose of. I think one was a guard room and the other was prisoner containment.
Chamber of the Great Council
This sounds like a prerequisite one needs to build advanced Protoss structures, and given its grandiosity it probably needed a shit-ton of vespene to construct. From what I understand it may very well be the single largest hall in all of Europe.
Chamber of the Scrutinio
This is a side room off of the Great Council Hall that does not serve any apparent purpose. There were signs around but if it doesn’t say “Crema Doge,” “cannoli” or “pizza” I’m at a loss.
This room was also perpetually empty. Probably the only one here that could be said for.
It’s humid and dark but not technically a dungeon owing to its above-ground status. Either way, it would have been absolutely miserable to be incarcerated here.
It starts with a brief walk over the Bridge of Sighs, so named because those that traversed it would sigh at their last view of the free world through the slits that form its windows.
Before you know it, you’re in it. It’s dark, claustrophobic and feels much like LARPing a dungeon crawl.
Supposedly there are torture chambers around here as well but either we couldn’t find them or they were cordoned off somehow. We saw level after level of prison cells and after a while it turns into a maze of twisty passages, all alike.
On the way out, you’ll notice a staircase flanked by two naked men. This is the Giants’ Staircase.
Since I only need so many tasteful pictures of male ass, I went off in search of more refined subjects.
And that was it. We spent a few hours in the Doge’s Palace and discovered the source of all those terrible dog pictures.