Back Street Canals, Venice
Walking from Campo Santa maria Formosa by the bell tower of the church of the same name, and then by the canal to the north, having the canal on the left side, leads to Ponte del Paradiso, and the street called Calle del Paradiso. Above the entrance to the street there is Arco del Paradiso – Gothic arch built of Istrian stone, surmounted by a triangular spire decorated with statues of the Virgin of Mercy and Madonna. Madonna holds her mantle wide open to protect a devout couple kneeling in prayer. The sculpted arms on each side of this scene are those of the famous Venetian families Foscari and Mocenigo. Members of both families had been Doges of Venice. On the canal side there is Foscari coat of arms and a single kneeling figure at the feet of Virgin. The arch probably commemorates the marriage of the daughter of Michele Foscari – Pellegrina Foscari and Alvise Mocenigo in 1491. The arch would therefore date from the end of the 15th century, though its style is closer to works of the late 14th century, which is one of the many evidences of the conservativeness of Venetians, slow to embrace the new Renaissance style, common in other parts of Italy. Anyway, according to the tourist info sign the arch is dated to 14th century.
Due to damages of Arco del Paradiso caused by the centuries long exposure to the open air, the restoration and conservation works had been undertaken and completed in 1993 and 1994. The restored and protected arch is now on its original place.
People are always saying "part of the charm of Venice is just wandering and getting lost." Well...I do agree with the wandering part but have a solution for the "getting lost" part. I found a downloadable walking tour of the Dorsoduro area of Venice. This is the area where most of the Venetians live so it is much less touristy than the other areas of Venice. The tour starts in the Campo outside the Church of San Pantaleone and gives you turn by turn directions. Not only does it guide you thru the Dorsoduro area but also gives you the history of some of the churches and artists. It also gives you the choice of whether to hear the history or continue on with the tour. The Dorsoduro area is so beautiful and quiet. It is not like the other parts of Venice. There are no touristy shops or stalls, there are no gondoliers offering the "best" tour in Venice, there are no huge crowds to fights your way thru. There are just the canals, the churches and the peace and quiet you would find in any private neighborhood. We were able to go into churches and be the only ones inside, we were able to walk down streets and be the only ones on it and we were able to stand in front of a gondola factory without having to "jockey for position" in order to get a good view or picture. If you are really interested in "seeing" Venice then I highly recommend taking your ipod (or MP3 player) with these tours downloaded and just take your time and enjoy yourself. Check out pocketvox.com for their tours. You'll love them.
In the Cannaregio district - just opposite Tintoretto's house - look out for this interesting bas-relief on the Palazzo Mastelli of a camel. A sure reminder that this was once the Arab Mercant district. In fact it was the Mori brothers who set up home in this Plazzo. When they had settled one sent for his wife some years later, telling her in his message that she would know the house because of the relief of a camel that had been inset into the wall to the right of the balcony.
From the Ferrovia waterbus stop, if you follow signs to Piazzalle Roma then these lead you along some nice back streets. We found this very nice bar/cafe right beside a colourful canal. Very quiet, and serving very nice light tiramisu at 1.45 euros. It was a delightful spot, the canal is wide enough to be nice to sit beside and quiet yet with one or two gondolas and boats drifting along. A peaceful spot to enjoy.
If you don't find this particular spot, then there are so many others that it is worth trying anyway. :-)
This was our first full day in Venice so we were admittedly a little awestruck by nearly everything we saw. Still, this seems to be special in our memory. As always, it is difficult to be certain about your location in Venice but I believe this photo is taken from the Ponte Ravano which crosses the Rio de la Do Torri in San Polo.
We had been weaving our way from the Rialto Bridge en-route, more or less, to Ca' Pesaro. As we crossed this bridge we were both captivated with what struck us a classic Venetian canalside facade with its wooden doorways leading directly into the water, the eroded stucco at the waterline, the beautiful stone balcony balustrades and the ubiquitous green shutters.
It all seemed "coffee table book" perfect and could easily have been just as anonymous were it not for one humanizing detail...the laundry hanging outside the first floor window.
This is a must if you appreciate art.....Vittorio Constantini is an amazing glass artist who recreats nature in the smallest of detail.......He has a large wall hanging of a collection of simply beautiful butterflies....cases of every bug you can think of......even sea life...the glass jelly fish is unbelievable...don't miss his spider web........He is located on Calle del Fumo about half way toward the water where you would catch the boat to Murano......on the right if you are coming from the Rialto....... walk NE of the Rialto bridge......it is a short walk from there up a wonderful street that is very narrow and full of other interesting finds.....the printer on the street is fun too....vintage looking stationery.....and full of creativity...there are fewer tourists and more real ambiance......
Most of his work is not for sale.....it is like a muesum......He doesn't speak English well but his wife does......you may want to call ahead to be able to see him at work.......He has taught glass art all over the world....
How many times have you heard it said, "The way to experience Venice is to walk, walk, walk!"? Probably not often enough. It's advice that's hard to ignore and so we walked...and got lost...and walked some more. Turning the next corner was never a disappointment and in fact, almost without fail, caused the camera to come out and go into action.
I wish I could tell you exactly where this photo was taken but, I can't. I know it is located somewhere between the Rialto Bridge and Ca' Pesaro and is shot from the Ponte Giovanni. That's the best I can do but it really doesn't matter. What matters is what you see. This is one of the many Venetian canals without a fondamenta or walkway along side. These are truly private as the only access to the entrances along the way is via boat. You also realize that unlike other canals these boats must belong to the residents living at the moorings.
Visually, there is a certain calm. Narrow and detached from the main canals the water is much more placid. This is not a thoroughfare but rather a local "street". This is just where you park or (if you look closely) hang you boat.
Well I guess this must be off the beaten path - we searched for ages for this bridge on the previous visit to no avail - for some reason we found it easier this time! So whats special about this bridge well its was Venice's red light district in San Polo and the "ladies of the night" here would display their "charms" at the windows over this "Bridge of Breasts"!
This bridge is unusual, as it has no parapets.
Originally Venices bridges were all designed like this, but as more and more of the citizens were falling off the bridges into the canals, railings and walls were added. Apparently 'Il Gazzatinno' - Venices daily paper used to print daily charts of the people who'd taken an acccidental dip the previous day.
This, and the Devils Bridge on Torcello, are the only remaining examples of bridges without parapets in Venice.
The bridge leads into a B&B 3749 Ponte Chiodo Which looks a nice place to stay
Vaporetto Station -Ca'd' Oro.
Probably best to check the hotels web site (click on link above) for detailed explanation of how to find the hotel, then the bridge should be nearby
It was July and surprise, surprise it was hot in Venice. I stopped at a cafe and paid too much for a cool drink but it was worth it. The cafe may have been located in the piazza near S. Stefano. But I was determined to find the undiscovered places. So off I went and turned down this alley and ...wow!!! Suddenly it's 15 degrees cooler and I think, "Maybe I'll just stay here!"
I passed by this small bridge quite a few times, during my visit Christmas 2006, as it was near to my hotel. It is at the end of the Fondamente Osmarin.
I quite liked this bridge, particularly as, a few times in the evening, a gondola passed by, with an accordian player, and the gondolier was singing.
The Rio San Provolo is the canal that it straddles
Fondamente Osmarin is the place to go for hand made carnival masks. Ca de Sol (Castello 4960)and Renzo Marega (4968) are two of the shops that specialise in quality masks.
This area is between Plazza San Marco and the Greek (Greci )Church.
From P. San Marco, exit by the Piazzetta Leoni, cross the bridge, with its view of the Bridge of Sighs to your Right, continue through Campo SS Fillipo e Giacoma, and continue forward along Provolo, as the street curves to the left, you are nearly here!
From San Zaccaria Vaporetto stop, head up Calle S Zaccaria, through the campo in front of San Zaccaria -( I recommend stopping for a look around this church), Exit the campo by turning Left, then turn Right into Campo S Provolo, and You're very nearly at the bridge.
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
Also known as San Barnabas bridge
Apparently there are other bridges in Venice called Ponte dei Pugni, but this is the only one with marble/ Istrian stone footprints, marking the places where the boxers stood. (Please see 2nd photo)
It spans the Rio San Barnaba
These bridges were built in the days before parapets were required.
The fights were common practice, and were sanctioned. It was seen as a way to allow the working classes to use their aggression on each other, rather than turning it against the state!
The fights took place between September and Christmas each year.
Neighbourhoods chose their champion fighters, to scrap for the honour of 'their patch' or arguments were settled between individuals, on similar bridges around Venice. There was a formal etiquette involved in offering the challenge and in initiating the fight.
The opponents would meet in the centre of the bridge to fight, they placed their feet on the foot prints as the starting position. the losers falling into the water below. Fighting involved Bare knuckles, or the use of steel tipped stiffened rush lances. These lances were banned in 1574, after a particularly gruesome battle, that had been arranged to co-incide with the visit to Venice of King Henry 3rd of France.
These fights were well attended by crowds lining the banks, cheering 'their man ' on, or shouting threats and abuse at the rival opponent and his supporters (a bit like today's soccer supporters!) so it's hardly surprising that after the fight had finished, it generally became a free for all, known as the frotta It wasn't unusual for multiple fatalities to occur - either by drowning in the canals or from the extent of their injuries.
The bridges were the site of many battles between the Castellini and Nicoletti.
The inhabitants of the area of Dorsoduro around the church of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli, which was considered the San Marco of the area, were known as Nicolotti, and those who had their HQ in Castello were identified as the Castellini.
The battles between the 2 neighbourhoods became so violent, that they were finally banned by law in 1705.
The fighters places on the bridge have now been taken over by tourists taking pics.
The time I visited, I think I was the only non local on the bridge trying to get a photo of the footprints - there was plenty of to-ing and fro-ing by locals hurrying across the bridge, with Christmas preparations in mind!
Vaporetto - CA' REZZONICO
In my guide book I had seen this bridge with no parapet - one of only 2 left in Venice without side protection (the other is in Torcello). Well I went on a hunt for it and could I find it?? In the end decided to give up and head back to St Marks when all of a sudden I just happened to glance down a small canal in Cannaregio and there it was :-)). I've been asked before how to find this bridge but really I can't answer that expect by throwing away the map and just keep your eyes peeled!
Just wandering round the streets of Venice you'll feel safe and be very surprised at all the beautiful views and old houses and bridges that are scattered about.
We came across Venitians going about their normal buisness,looks a bit strange loading stuff into barges instead of trucks.
This was one of the safest cities I've been to,unlike parts of Amsterdam where even with a few mates I felt aprehensive.
Go on, if you see a small, a very small side "street", take it go and see where it leads. These are the places where you can sometimes find the real Venice. Places where tourists "fear to tread", places that are not listed in those expensive tour books because they are not fancy or duded up or cost a fortune to purchase a ticket...