Friday, 3 November 2017

Through Venice Streets And Waterways

Monday 16 October 2017. In the last article we walked through Venice to the Rialto Bridge. In this one we'll take a look at and from the bridge then head back to St Mark's Square and the waterfront before returning to the Thomson Dream and sailing out through the lagoon.

The Rialto Bridge was built in 1591 to the designs of the appropriately named Antonio da Ponte. The high single arch was considered so daring and ambitious that other architects scoffed that it was bound to fall. It hasn't done yet. The stone bridge replaced a wooden one of 1255. This had several piers supporting the structure with twin drawbridges at the centre that could be opened to allow tall ships to pass. It too had shops along both sides of the central footpath over the bridge whose rents helped pay for the necessary maintenance. This one though had collapsed due to a large crowd watching a boat parade in 1444 and again in 1524. The earliest bridge was a pontoon bridge of 1181.

You must be patient to get a spot at the parapet to take photos over the side of the bridge. There will be several hundreds of people wanting to do the same!

And the other side! Miss Franny by now had left me to go look round the market and shops at the foot of the bridge.

One of the shop windows of a shop actually on the bridge. This sold pens made of Murano glass. I very seldom write with a pen these days which I think is a shame. I used to especially like writing with a fountain pen, but with central heating and days of non-use I find that cartridges are inevitably empty even if I've only used the pen once or twice since fitting a new cartridge. I do have a few old dip pens though.

I find Miss Franny without any bother and we decide to head back to St Mark's Square by a more direct route - though not worrying if we stray from any path we have taken before. It's no problem finding your way between these two most popular of Venetian sites as all you need do is follow signs for either Rialto or S. Marco.

Down through the narrow streets are many tempting shop windows. Here's one with a display of Murano glass sculpture. Think of the fun those airport workers will have with your case, loading it onto the plane for your trip home... Best to have the shop send large pieces by separate carrier!

We come into St Mark's Square and pass an archway between St Mark's Basilica and the Doges' Palace. A Doge is the equivalent to our Duke, so these were very high-ranking rulers. The winged lion is the symbol of Venice and you will find many examples of it in St Mark's Square and indeed all over the Mediterranean as Venice had one of the largest navies in Medieval times. The winged lion can be seen in various parts of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and elsewhere.

Here is another over the balcony of the Doges' Palace that faces onto St Mark's Square.

We turn at the waterfront and head along the rows of shops and stalls in the never-ending search for fridge magnets. We now have a row of eighteen fridges just to hold them all... I'm thinking of knocking some of them together to make a cool haven in times of very hot weather. But then again, how often do we get very hot weather in the UK...?

The covered walkway along the front of the Doges' Palace. It is a seriously striking building.

At the point where St Mark's Square comes out onto the waterfront is another Gondala point. Perhaps the most lucrative point for the Gondoliers. We heard one couple being quoted 300 Euros for a trip - but in fairness we didn't hear where they wanted to go! You will also pay extra for a singing gondolier. Especially one with an orchestra in tow...

St Mark's Bell Tower or Campanile. It reaches 323 feet (98.6 metres) and has been in this form since 1514, though it has been rebuilt since following a disastrous collapse in 1902 just a few days after a crack appeared in the north face. Miraculously the only death was that of the caretaker's cat. The first tower on this site was built in 912 and the present one was finished exactly 1000 years later.

We carried on past St Mark's Square towards the terminal for our waterbus back to the cruise terminal. This presented us with further fridge magnet possibilities!

We returned to the ship and spent the afternoon talking to people we had met during the week. We came back up to the Promenade Deck to watch us sail out and found that the fog was beginning to come down again.

By the time we reached St Mark's Square it was starting to go dark, though as yet only a few lights have been switched on. Never having seen Venice by night it would have been nice to see it all lit up. Thomson Dream sails out through the Venetian Lagoon and back down the Adriatic Sea. For the next two days we will be calling in at ports in Croatia.

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