Ponte dei Tre Archi – the only Venetian three-arched bridge, created by Andrea Tirali, was built in 1688 and restored in 1794. Tirali's project for this bridge was based on one of Andrea Palladio, rejected for Ponte Rialto.
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.
Maybe I wouldn’t have looked for this bridge if it wasn’t for Sandy’s description. But I liked it and of course it is nice to see and find a bridge without parapet in Venezia and without signs “warning, don’t fall into the water – bridge does not have parapets”, lol. But on the other hand, luckily Italy in general and Venezia in special (unlike Germany and other countries) do not yet believe that their inhabitants are brain dead so that they must be warned of the obvious at almost every possible occasion.
Well, so I was looking for it and also almost gave it up, when I was walking southward from Sacca dei Misericordia, along the Canale della Misericordia and then crossing it eastward. There it is, leading over Rìo San Felice, which merges into Canale della Misericordia.
I found it quite interesting to read that there is a B&B close by, called Ponte Chiodo. Maybe it is even in located in Palazzo Chiodo, and staying there might mean to use this bridge daily :-)
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.
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…
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'?
If arriving in Venice by train this bridge over the Grand Canal is probably the first one you see. Its 40m long and its 7m height provides an amazing view of the places down the Grand Canal. The first thing I have to do on arrival in Venice is stand here and drink in the view. It was named after the nearby monastery of the bare-footed monks and was built in 1934, being made of Istrrain stone to replace a former ironbridge.
I do wish they put a ramp on it though for those of us wheeling suitcases over it :-S
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.
The Ponte Scalzi is the third bridge which is crossing the Grand Canal in Venice, starting from west to east: Other two bridges are Ponte di Rialto and Ponte dell' Accademia. Ponte degli Scalzi is the probably first bridge most people will see and cross when they arrive in Venice. Since it is located in front of the train station, it is also known locally as Ponte della Ferrovia. Ponte degli Scalzi has only one arch and is made entirely of the precious white stone of Istria. It connects the visitors coming in on train to the Santa Croce district of Venezia. Today it is full of street sellers.
The 3rd and most would say least interesting of the bridges that cross over the Grand Canal is the Ponte degli Scalzi (Scalzi Bridge).
Made from white marble, it is the bridge that most tourists will see first when they arrive in Venice, as it is located just near the train station.
I highly recommend taking a walk over this bridge - stopping to take numerous photos (in my case anyway!) and get lost amongst the streets of the Santa Croce and Dorsoduro regions.
Nothing real special about this bridge, other than you'll surely find yourself walking over it or sailing under it. It is one of the 3 bridges that goes over the Grand Canal.
When you enter the city from the Train station, you'll see this bridge on your left. The bridge was built in 1934 to replace an Iron bridge on the same spot. It connects the visitors coming in on train to the Santa Croce district of Venezia.
I loved the views of the Venetian bridges. The Ponte delle Guglie was formerly known as Ponte di Cannaregio, but lost its name when it was reconstructed in 1823 with pinnacles in each of the four corners.
In the Dorsoduro area is another well known venetian bridge - the Ponte dei Pugni - so called as this is where fights took place and the loser ended up in the canal! Look out for the stone footprints which marked the starting point of the contest.
In San Polo area is the Ponte delle Tette - this is the old "red light" district of Venice, where prostitutes displayed their "attributes" at the windows overlooking this "Bridge of Breasts".
The Bridge of the Scalzi is probably the first bridge over the Canal Grande you will see when arriving in Venice. This bridge is just in front of the railwaystation and not far from Piazzale Roma.
The new bridge is made of Istrian stone and replaced in 1933 the former iron bridge. The bridge is 40m long and 7m high. It was named after the order of Scalzi, the Bare-footed monks, whose monastery is just at the northern side of the bridge (left at the picture).
Ponte degli Scalzi is probably the first bridge over the Canal Grande you'll see when in Venice. It was built in the early 20th century to replace a former ironbridge. The whole arched bridge is made of Istrian (in Croatia) stone.
The bridge is 40m long and 7m height. It was named after the order of Scalzi (the Bare-footed monks), whos monastery is in the close vicinity of the bridge.
Accademia Bridge connects sestiere of San Marco, nearby the church of San Vitale, and Accademia, the most important Art Gallery in Venice.
The bridge was built in the 19th century, completely made with iron. The new version, however, was built in the beginning of the 20th century, only as a temporary bridge. It was realized by engineer Miozzi, first maded with wood and later was reinforced with steel, loosing its main pecuilarity.