I am sure I would not have tried to find this bridge if it wasn’t for Sandy’s review.
But then ... it was really nice to see a bridge without a parapet and also without a sign “warning, don’t fall into the water – bridge does not have railing”. On the other hand I am almost sure that there is a sign now because on the other side of the bridge is a B&B and they must make sure that their guests end up at the doorstep and not in the water. Especially in the night and carrying luggage it must be a difficult task.
I almost missed finding the bridge, and walked around many corners. But at the end I was lucky and it is not difficult to find. It is at the very eastern end of Fondamenta della Misericordia, leading over the waters of Rio San Felice.
What I liked is that there is this little B&B on the other end of the bridge, Ponte Chiodo. Given the prices it is not that expensive to stay there in low season (50 Euro for a single room, as of June 2015). According to the photos and also to Bing Maps, there is even a small garden where breakfast is being served. Ok, next time.....
Vaporetto stop: Madonna dell’Orto or Fondamenta Nove, line 4.1./4.2. or 5.1./5.2.
Venice vaporetto map
Venice vaporetto schedule
Location of (8) Sacca della Misericordia on Bing Maps.
Location of (1) Ponte Chiodo, (2) Chiesa I Gesuiti on Bing Maps.
© Ingrid D., July 2007 (So please do not copy my text without my permission.). Update June 2015: completely revised wording.
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.
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.
SAN POLO AND SANTA CROCE
Construction began on Venice's controversial 4th Bridge to span the Grand Canal in January 2007, apparently it is still being 'tested' for weight and its potential effect on the fragile canal banks. This is happening in a hangar size building in Marghera.
Controversy seems to have also been caused by its cost, lack of access for the disabled, its design, its position, its purpose etc etc.
I took pics 2-4 during my visit in June, and was interested to see that the bridges designer (Calatrava ), is the person, who among many award winning designs, created the Arts and Sciences Park in Valencia, which I'd admired earlier that year.
This bridge apparently is constructed from local Istrian stone, glass and steel.
Modern, but intended to blend in with the nearby Santa Lucia train station and Piazzale Roma, which it links.
I'd read that it was due to be competed by December 2007, so I was looking forward to using it during my Christmas visit.
I was quite disappointed that it appeared to be no where near ready for use -just a piece of red painted steel , straddling the canal.
I understand Mid 2008, is now the target for completion.
For videos on You Tube etc of the bridges progress and its transportation up the Grand Canal Google Ponte di Calatrava.
CLICK for an article about the bridge.
19.06.08 The Mayor of Venice has promised that this bridge will be completed and ready by the end of June 08 according to a press release!
It looks like this bridge is now open - so I'll get the chance to see it in a few weeks time.
Venice holds your senses in it's grasp and doesn't let go. Beauty is everywhere you look. Many famous buildings and churches dot the Islands and great artists and architects of the past have painted the skyline with their masterpieces.
The narrow streets interconnected by bridges makes for a romantic walk during the early evening sky. These are the structures that one almost takes for granted, namely the bridges. Okay, most of us know about the Rialto Bridge over the Grand Canal, how proud and magnificent it stands, but every time you cross a canal, it most likely was on a bridge and very few of them are alike. I would like to share the views of some of these great Venice canal bridges with you.
It is mind boggling to count the number of bridges, but there number is known to be around 400. When in Venice, take the time when crossing over a bridge to look at the design and beauty of this arching edifice. Each one is it's own bridge of sighs.
In the 19th century a causeway to the mainland brought a railway station to Venice, and an automobile causeway and parking lot was added in the 20th century. Taking a few minutes to cross it provides an unforgettable view of Venice as you approach. Not quite the same as a bost trip from Marco Polo airport, but still exciting just the same.
As long as you don't sleep (or someone stays awake), the police can't get you. Hangout at the al fresco bars and get the first crack and have the famous square all to yourself at the first break of dawn. It's your only chance to see the piazza without the usual throng. Stay in a well-lit place, preferably, with a group. There's safety in numbers.
Ponte delle Guglie, renaissance bridge over Cannaregio canal designed by Michelangelo de'Marchesini was erected in 1580. The bridge takes its name from the ornamental obelisks – guglie, at either end. It is among the earliest to be bridges designed with a balustrade. The joints between the marble slabs are concealed by carved masks.
The beauty of Venice is everywhere. There is nowhere in the world quite like it . We enjoyed just strolling around and crossing the bridges. They are so beautiful. There are about 100 islands in Venice that are connected by bridges, each of which presents a distinctly different view of the city.
Venice is a city of bridges , there are over 400 to view or cross. Walking along the narrow streets you turn a corner and see a bridge, usually the are a few gondolas tied up near the bridge, I presume the owner has parked whilst he has gone shopping or to work. Very often there are people around these bridges and it is an interesting place to spend a few minutes absorbing the local activity.
The photo with the cruise ship in the background was taken from the Bridge of Sighs which links the Doge's Palace to to the next building, the new prison built in 1560. The lawyers ( Avogardi) were on the second floor of Doge's Palace and used the bridge to contact their client in the prison.
Standing in the middle of Accademia Bridge and looking down the Grand Canal out towards Santa Maria della Salute is one of the nicest views in Venice for me.
From St Marks Square direction, it's also on the way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art which is worth a visit even if you're not really into modern art. I'm not a modern art fan but I enjoyed the visit none the less.
Because there are a lot of canals in Venice you will see a lot of beautiful bridges to pass the canals.
Beside the famous bridges there are many other , small , anonymous and beautiful.