The Bridge of Sighs is the second famous Venetian bridge. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge's Palace. It was designed by Antoni Contino and was built in 1602.
The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge name, given by Lord Byron in the 19th century, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.
A local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss if they kiss on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge Of Sighs.
Arch span 11 m.
The Rialto Bridge is one of the famous Venetian bridges spanning the Grand Canal. It is the oldest bridge across the canal.
The present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was finally completed in 1591. It is similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico, the covered ramps carry rows of shops. The bridge has defied its critics to become one of the architectural icons of Venice.
main span 28.80 m
rise 6.4 m
height 7.32 m
deck width 22.90 m
This was the bridge between the prison and the interrogation chambers in the Doge's Palace, built in 1602.
The story was that the last view of Venice's beauty would be the last thing a prisoner would see before he was led to the dark dank prison. This would cause one last sigh, hence the "bridge of sighs."
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA or SAN MARCO (VALLARESSO)
UPDATE*** SEPTEMBER 2010- This view of The Bridge of Sighs is still partially obstructed at present due to work at The Doges Palace - though it's still (again, partially) visible from the Ponte della Paglia, with the controversial advertising hoarding surrounding it.
From Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo, With L'Aciugheta (Little Anchovy) Restaurant on your right, walk forward, and exit the square.
As you cross the canal Rio Canonica by the Ponte della Canonica , turn to face the left - Here you can see the Ponte dei Sosperi (Bridge of Sighs) from a different view, looking towards the Ponte della Paglia and The Bacino.
The bridge is thought to have been constructed originally around 864, or in the 12th Century so that the Doges could visit the church of San Zaccaria, without having to venture along Riva degli Schiavoni - the usual venue for bumping off the Doges paying their annual visit to the church. (Doge Tradonico (864) and Doges Vitale Michiel 1 and 11 during the 12th Century) - see my previous tip on Calle delle Rasse also.
The name Canonica refers to the buildings adjacent to the bridge, that housed the clergy of San Marco. These were constructed originally of wood around 1200, the land being donated by Doge Pietro Ziani. They were reconstructed in stone between 1618 and 1635.
Twenty two houses were occupied - 10 resident canons, 2 sacristans, 5 minor canons, 2 under sacristans, 1 Director of Music (Maestro di Cappella) and 2 custodians of the Church. Apparently there was a 6th minor canon, who was left without an abode, as his house was demolished, to prevent fire damage in this building spreading to the adjacent San Marco
The bridge to your right leads into Palazzo Trevisan -CappelloIt was purchased in 1577 by Bianca Cappello -( the wife of Francesco de Medici) as a present for her brother. At the time, it was considered one of the finest palaces in Venice.
Zuane Capello died in 1759, without male heirs, so it passed to his sister, Lugrezia, the wife of Alessandro Collato, then to their son Zanpolo, who died without heirs in 1781.
It is now a Murano glass showroom
If You've followed my tips in order, We've nearly completed the circle, and We're heading back to San Marco Piazza.
This bridge connects Cannaregio and Santa Croce sestieries-a route from the station of Saint Lucia (Ferrovia) to San Marco. It is named after the Baroque church at its Cannaregio foot - the Chiesa dei Scalzi (Santa Maria di Nazaretta). Scalzi meaning barefoot - the Carmelite monks were barefoot or wore sandals)
During Austrian occupation of Venice a metal bridge was constructed between 1858-1860. This was replaced in 1934 by the present stone bridge. It was built with an high enough arch, to allow the 'new' steamboats to pass underneath.
A busy bridge, with people crossing over, and hawkers selling tat! Good views over the Grand Canal though! If arriving at San Lucia , this bridge might be one of your first views of Venice.
The Ponte degli Scalzi (Scalzi's Bridge, in English) was the last bridge built over the Canal Grande. It was built by the Austrian in 1858 and restored in 1934 by Eugenio Miozzi. It is 6.75 meters tall and 40 meters wide. From the top of the bridge you can see the palace Calbo-Crotta and the church dedicated to San Simeon Piccolo.
At the edge of Riva degli Schiavoni before we visit San Marco we walked over ponte del Vin (pic 1) where we had the view of another small bridge that connects two buildings (pic 2). Don’t get confused, this is not the bridge of sighs! Walk a bit further at ponte della Paglia (Straw bridge, pic 3) that was originally built in 1360 but the one we see today was built in 1847. The bridge is always packed with tourists because from here you will see the beautiful ponte dei Sospiri (pic 4).
The day we were there it was covered with huge modern advertisments so I guess even those who ride a gondola under it couldn’t feel the romance out of it. The legend says that eternal love will come if you kiss your lover on a gondola at sunset under this enclosed bridge. It is a beautiful small bridge made of white limestone. It was designed by Antoni Contino in 1602 and we walked on it when we visited the Doge’s Palace because it connects the palace with the prisons. So, I didn’t take any gondola and I didn’t kiss her under the bridge but I could see (pic 5) what the convicts could see from up there (they supposed to sigh because this was the last time they could see the beautiful Venice). We had our sighs too because we wanted to get out of there soon…
There are only 4 bridges over Grand Canal! Until 1850 Rialto was the only one, ten years later two more were added (Scalzi and Academia) and only the last years the Venetians saw another bridge (Calatrava’s).
Rialto bridge is the oldest and the most famous bridge over Grand Canal. It is located near the fish market and you can have a nice view of it from the vaporetto that goes up and down the canal or if you walk on Riva del Vin near the bridge. The view on the canal from the bridge is gorgeous too that’s why it is always packed with tourists that try to catch a good photo. There were many wooden bridges at the same spot and all of them had collapsed repeatedly. The one we see today was designed in 1591 by Antonio da Ponte(1512-1595). This stone arch bridge is 28.80m long and 7.32m high but I was surprised when I realised that its width is 22.90 meters!! Although I liked the bridge I prefer the café under it where we had some relaxing moments watching the boats passing by.
Ponte dell’ Accademia is near Accademia Galleries of course and connects Dorsoduro with San Marco. There was a wooden bridge that was made in 1933 and replaced the original steel bridge of 1854 and then in 1985 the one we see today with steel bracing for extra support. It will be the first bridge you will see on the canal if you are in San Marco and heading by boat towards Piazzale Roma. If you walk on it you will have great views over the palaces at the Grand Canal and the Salute church (ok, you have great views everywhere in Venice…)
Ponte degli Scalzi (bridge of the barefoot!)is facing the train station and connects Cannaregio and Santa Croce districts. It is always packed with people. The bridge was designed by Eugenio Miozzi in 1934 at the same spot of a former iron bridge. We cross it many times and I saw it isolated only at 4.50am
Calatrava’s bridge is the newest bridge. It connects the arrival area of Venice (Piazzale Roma) with the train station and it’s an ugly modern one that believe it or not it doesn’t have wheelchair access!! It was designed by Santiago Calatrava in 2008 and has 80m length, 9-17m width and 7 meters hight and it is made with stone, glass and steel. I really cant understand what’s the need of this bridge so close to Scalzi bridge.
SAN POLO and SANTA CROCE
This small bridge, probably gets passed by with a quick glance, it's not particularly architecturaly interesting or photogenic as a lot of Venices hundreds of other bridges are.
However, during the 16th century, this was Venices Red Light Area, where the 'working girls' would attract prospective business by displaying their naked bossoms from the windows and doorways of the buildings alongside the Rio di San Cassiano.
In 1358, the Grand Council of Venice declared that prostitution was "absolutely indispensable to the world" Although fornication was seen as a sin in the eyes of the Roman Catholic church, Prostitution was a lesser evil than rape, sodomy or masturbation.
An area of Rialto was selected for the prostibulum publicum [municipal brothel]
The houses were under the surveillance of 6 guardians, who ensured that the prostitutes kept to their night time curfew, and that they didn't work during religious holidays. The prostitutes lived in a house with a Matron, who dealt with taking money from the clients, and then paying the girls their monthly salary. This area became known as Il Castelletto - Little Castle.
Eventually, the prostitutes moved to ply their trade outside of this area, (after battling with the authorities, who tried to unsuccessfully move them back to the confines of Il Castelletto, physically, and by putting restrictions on their working practice.). A law was passed in 1446 forbidding prostitutes to eat, drink or sleep in taverns.
Rio Tera delle Carampane was a popular area for trade. The prostitutes working this patch were known as carampane - which is a word used in Italian today to describe a 'Mutton dressed as lamb' type female!
Late 15th century, the city had done a U-Turn, and was encouraging Prostitution again. Apparently the men of Venice had become more interested in sodomy, which was deemed more abhorrent to the City Fathers. A law of 1482, ensured that the practice of Sodomy was illegal, and those caught and prosecuted ended their days by being executed then incinerated between the 2 columns on San Marco Piazzetta!
By 1535, 11,000 prostitutes were registered in the city. As well as 'servicing' the local men, Traders, seafarers and tourists were arriving in droves, Amongst these were pilgrims, who after viewing the religious sites, and satisfying their devotional needs, were looking to satisfy their carnal desires.
There were 2 distinct types of Prostitute in Venice- The uneducated and unprivileged cortigiana di lume, who , being 'available to all' probably had to endure all kinds of violence and humiliation, as 2nd class citizens, to be able to afford to live, and then there were the cortigiana onesta. These were women from middle class families, who'd been educated in languages, the arts, and music. Their misfortune was of not having been born into nobility, and had chosen this life as a way to leave home, and be independant. (An alternative would have been to join a convent).
As they 'rose through the ranks' they were able to chose 'only the best' as their clients, keeping as few clients as were necessary to keep them in a certain style.
A guide was published that listed names and addresses of these courtisans (and their rates)- Questosi e il catalogo de tutte le principal, et piu honorate Courtigianedi Venetia or "This is the catalogue of the main and most honoured Courtesans of Venice"
One of those listed was Veronica Franco, the daughter of a Courtesan, (who had trained Veronica in the necessary skills from an early age to snare a wealthy husband). A short lived marriage to a physician, led to her becoming a courtesan to wealthy men, including royalty. Her life is described in the book 'The Honest Courtesan', by Margaret F. Rosenthal, which was made into a film in 1998 'Dangerous Beauty' or 'A Destiny of her own'.
I've not read this, but thoroughly enjoyed 'In the Company of the Courtesan' by Sarah Dunant.
Venice and prostitution feature in other books and films - obviously 'Casanova' but also The Merchant of Venice, and operas including Verdis La Traviata
In 1608, Thomas Coryat, an English writer claimed that there were 20,000 prostitutes, in Venice, 'outnumbering nuns and patrician women better than 10 to 1'.
By the 1640's Venices tolerance of prostitution had waned, though foreigners kept arriving, until the 1790s, lured largely by those things that were relatively scarce elsewhere in Europe—'a particular sense of style, above all, but also vice: gambling, prostitution, and perversion of whatever sort visitors required'.
(Sotoportego del Casin dei Nobili – in Dorsoduro, was once a gambling house only open to nobles, where courtesans practiced prostitution).
New restrictions were placed on the courtesans, restricting their mobility, entering churches, wearing jewellery, and they were stopped from prosecuting non-payers.
Besides physical injury, prostitutes were at high risk of disease such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, (many being too weak to survive the Bubonic Plague and Cholera epidemics that hit Venice). Multiple pregnancies were another occupational hazard. -Venetian prostitutes were amongst the first to use condoms - made from cat gut or cow bowel!
Although Prostitution, or The Sex Trade is still an ongoing industry throughout the world today, I had been unaware of its presence in Venice, apart from having read of some low key activity near the train station.
Well- sadly, although there may be a few 'highly paid' independent and 'discreet' modern day 'courtesans' dotted around the city, and increasing numbers of women are choosing the profession as a way to get through University, or buy a house or other luxuries etc. as a temporary job, there are increasing numbers of girls being forced into prostitution/ slavery by criminal gangs. Many arriving here from Nigeria, Russia, Albania and Eastern block countries, lured by the promise of 'A new Life' in fashion, television, entertainment etc. Many are young teenagers, barely into puberty. North East Italy being one of the major Human trafficking 'hubs'
In 2002 Plans were announced to introduce Zones, where the prostitutes could operate, 'in safety' and without offending residents. The scheme involves sending vans to provide condoms, health care and even hot coffee. - I understand that this is on the outer areas of Mestre. I'm not sure if it's being successful
The Red Umbrella is the international symbol of sex workers rights, symbolising resistance to and protection from abuse and discrimination. The red umbrella was first used as part of a collaborative art project in Venice, 2001 as part of the Biennale. Sex workers paraded on a route incorporating the geography of the social history of sex workers, from the famous Venetian courtesans Veronica Franco to modern day. They carried red umbrellas and used megaphones to shout out about bad working conditions, abuse and Human Rights issues.
Sex tourism web sites list places to find Sex Workers in Venice (and other cities) and give ratings - a modern day 'Questosi e il catalogo de tutte le principal, et piu honorate Courtigianedi Venetia'?
Opened in late 2008. the newest bridge in Venice in a long time is super sleek and modern. Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, it basically connects Santa Lucia Train Station to Piazzale Roma Bus Terminal. Unfortunately, even though they are not so steep, crossing this bridge still involves steps.
Hotel Antiche Figure Venice
6 Reviews and 1568 Opinions Thanks to the hotel tip from fellow-VT'r "Herkbert's" Venice page, we chose the Hotel Antiche Figura...
Londra Palace Hotel Venice Venice
5 Reviews and 428 Opinions I didn't stay here, but it looks like a pretty great location for a hotel right by Marc's basin....
Al Ponte Antico Hotel Venice Venice
6 Reviews and 554 Opinions My sisters and I stayed 2 nights at this hotel and our time there was priceless. Matteo and his...