September 25 Wednesday – The Clemens party left Bellagio at 10 AM. They met G.K. Mayer and wife who helped them take the lake boat down to Lecco, Italy, where they boarded the train. They suffered another ten-hour trip and arrived at Venice at 7:30 PM.. The family had looked forward to Venice as a “relaxing interlude in their long journey.” Livy’s itinerary called for a three-week stay.
From page 267-8 The Life of Mark Twain - The Middle Years 1871-1891:
After a ten-hour train ride the next day, they arrived in Venice. They located their hotel, the Grand Britannia, which, according to Livy, “we did not find very comfortable,” then “took our supper, which was poor, & went to bed.” She was cold and homesick, she complained, though she was appeased the next day. The City of Bridges was “fascinating” and “thoroughly charming,” she reported to her mother. “I sit now before a open window that opens on to a little piazza, where I can look right on to the Grand Canal.”
Sam spent most of the next three weeks playing the tourist (again). He was fascinated by the “gaudy scarecrow” of St. Mark’s Cathedral, "partly because it is so old and partly because it is so ugly,” he observed in A Tramp Abroad. The adjacent campanile resembled “a mere brick factory chimney," he thought. He visited the Doge’s Palace to view the paintings, particularly Tintoretto’s massive, “three-acre [sic: eighty-foot] "Il Paradiso,” which contained hundreds of figures, “and they are all doing something.” He also satirized the breezy style of art critics in reporting these visits in the travelogue by extolling the merits of Leandro Bassano’s “immortal Hair Trunk,” which in fact is nothing more than an inconspicuous detail in Bassano’s Pope Alexander III and the Doge Ziani (ca. 1605) in the Hall of the Council of Ten. He considered Antonio Zona’s Meeting of Titian and Young Veronese (1861), a modern painting in classical style in the Accademia di Belle Arti, the “loveliest picture” in the city. Despite his occasional qualms about Venetian life, Sam wrote Howells, a former U.S. diplomat there and the author of Venetian Life (1866), that he wished his friend were still consul there, “for we want to stay a year & would do so in that case.”