VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
Retracing your steps along the Riva degli Schiavoni, look for the Hotel Danieli. This is the largest and possibly one of the most famous hotels in Venice, and one of the top hotels in the world.
Originally built as a Palace for the ducal Dandolo family in the 14th century, it became a hotel in 1822, named after its owner Joseph Da Niel. Newer wings were added in the 1940's Apparently its opulent interior is crammed with marble, stained glass, crystal chandeliers, silk covered walls, gilt mirrors and oriental carpets. It also has the uninterrupted view over the lagoon - but this comes with the accompanying noise from the pavement below!
Between the 2 buildings of the hotel is a narrow street, Calle delle Rasse. Walking along here, you'll see many fish restaurants, bars and shops. When I visited at Christmas, small twinkling white lights decorated the street.
This street was originally a hive of industry- Rasse (Rascia or Rassa) was a black strong canvas- like material, (or a woolen cloth) that was used to cover the gondolas, to protect their ornate furnishings and fabrics. It originated in Servia (Rascia)
So manufacturing, selling and sewing of this material took place all along the street, and led to its name.
Doge Vitale Michiel 1 was murdered by Marco Cassuolo at the entrance to this Calle on September 13th 1102, while he was on his way to pay his traditional annual visit to the nearby church of San Zaccaria.
Cassuolo, was caught, after attempting to hide in one of the nearby houses at the Calles entrance, and hung.
These houses were then destroyed. They were rebuilt, but not permitted to be constructed in stone. They were then destroyed to enable the extension of the Hotel Danieli.
Apparently, Doge Vitale Michiel 11 was also murdered near this Calle, again on his way to San Zaccaria on 27th March 1172 - an Easter visit!! Hmmmm....
Don't worry, the worst that is likely to happen today is that you'll be accosted by street entertainers along this route!!!
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACARRIA or ARSENALE
Popular with local children and teenagers. I understand that this fair is only open December and January.
About half a dozen rides, including dodgem cars, side stalls such as a rifle range/hook a duck/ hoola hoops - with the chance to win bottles of whiskey. money etc- but more likely to be a tacky keyring!
I always find it slightly amusing watching adults desperately trying to win something of less value than the amount of money that they've forked out, in the idea that 'THIS TIME' I'll get it!
An assortment of foodstalls selling the usual fairground fodder - candy floss, hot dogs, burgers, hot and cold drinks, including small bottles of wine.
UPDATE- DECEMBER 08 - The fair had expanded in size since my last visit, though Christmas Eve/ Day some stalls/ rides were closed at night.
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
On the Riva degli Schiavoni is this impressive statue to Vittorio Emanuele 11, who was the first king of the united Italy.
The monument was created by the Roman sculpter, Ettore Ferrari. It was inaugurated on 1st May 1887, and illustrates the ripping off of the chains of Austrian dominance. It depicts Vittorio on horseback on a stone plinth. Below are lions and dragons.
Between the statue and the next bridge is Pensione Wilder (No 4161), where Henry James completed 'Portrait of A Lady' in 1887
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA / SAN MARCO (VALLARESSO)
Crossing over Ponte della Paglia, having taken your photo of The Bridge of Sighs, you arrive onto Riva degli Schiavoni - The Dalmations Quay.
(We have left San Marco sestieri (one of the 6 neighbourhoods of Venice) and are now in Castello sestieri - If You're ever unsure where You are in Venice, the street signs also name the Sestieri - and Yellow signs point to San Marco, Rialto Bridge and other main landmarks)
The name comes from Schiavone-the Italian word for Slav, which in Venice was linked to the word slave. Slave trading was a common occurance in the early life of the city. Most slaves arrived from Dalmatian coastal towns.
Many of these Slavs were Christian, or converted to the faith, so by the 11th century, the slave trade in Venice ended.
The quayside, became the location where merchant ships from the ports of the Mediterranean, Adriatic, and further afield unloaded their goods. Food was sold from their boats, or booths set up along the quayside. There were also quite a few inns just beyond the bridge.
In ancient times, the Riva degli Schiavoni was partly walled-as a defense from invasion.
It was such an important transit port, that the area had to be widened , as it was only the width of its bridges. It was paved in 1324, then widened between 1780-82 by the architect Tommaso Temanza, to accommodate the increasingly busy trade.
Apparently a white stone border marks the original boundary. Canaletto's drawings of the Riva during the 1740's and 1750s show an area busy with gondolas, barges and sailing boats.
The Riva has been one of Venices highly desired addresses, with Petrarch in 1362 (No. 4145) and Henry James (No 4161) residing here. The Hotel Danieli (No 4196) has boasted Dickens, Proust, Wagner and Ruskin as guests. Today it welcomes guests willing to part with 700 Euros for its cheaper rooms - 900 Euro with a lagoon view!
Nowadays, this popular promenade still continues its trading history, although this time through the many gift shops and souvenir stalls.
There are also Exchange bureaus, and snack stalls, and You'll no doubt encounter a multitude of street entertainers along your stroll.
This is a pleasant area to stroll at dusk, as the sun sets over the water.
For those preferring a longer walk, and to see some of Venice's less visited areas, with views across the water -
The Riva stretches along the Bacino di San Marco from the Ducal Palace to the Rio Ca'di Dio near the Arsenale Vaporetto stop. Here, the promenade changes its name to Riva Ca' di Dio, until the bridge crossing the Rio dell' Arsenale. The section in front of the Naval museum is The Riva S Biagio, crossing the next bridge you are then on Riva dei Sette Martiri, which is a longer promenade, stretching to near the Giardini Vaporetto stop. Continuing in front of the Giardini Pubblici along the Viale del Giardini Pubblici, then crossing the bridge, you'll find yourself in Sant' Elena at the easternmost end of Venice.
I've heard many people complain about how overcrowded Venice can get at certain times. While this wasn't the case during our visit in late May, we still enjoyed discovering the Parco delle Rimembranze in the Castello area. This park, which is dedicated to the memory of soldiers who died during the Second World war, is the perfect place to go to get away from the crowds. With its beautiful trees and numerous park benches, there isn't another place quite like it in Venice to relax, perhaps read for a while, or even have a small picnic with a nice bottle of wine (it's OK to drink wine in public areas in Venice). It's also worth checking out the view of the lagoon from the park, and when you decide to head back to the heart of the city you can either do so on foot, by following the street that goes along the lagoon, or you can catch a vaporetto at the Santa Elena stop, which is great because the boats are practically empty at that point so you can pick a good spot on board and take all the pictures you want!
If you walk past the Palazzo Ducale heading for the Castello area, you'll find yourself on the Riva degli Schiavoni which, together with Piazza San Marco, has for a very long time been one of Venice's most popular high-scale tourist areas. Even if you don't plan on staying at one of the Riva's upscale hotels or have dinner at one of the rather expensive restaurants, it's still fun to go on a lazy stroll in the evening and take in all the sights and atmosphere.
From the Ponte della Paglia, you can first admire the "Bridge of Sighs", which was built at the beginning of the 17th century to connect the Palazzo Ducale with the new prisons. Although it sounds and looks quite romantic, the "Ponte dei Sospiri" actually got its name from the prisoners' laments as they made their was across the bridge and into the prison. Another point of interest on the Riva degli Schiavoni is Hotel Danieli, an upscale hotel established in a 14th century palazzo that has attracted many famous guests throughout the years, including authors such as Marcel Proust and Charles Dickens as well as composers such as Claude Debussy and Richard Wagner - it's definitely worth going inside to take a look at the gorgeous lobby area! Another hotel with a literary connection on the Riva degli Schiavoni that was of interest to me is the Pensione Wildner, where Henry James resided in 1881 as he was putting the final touch to his famous novel "The Portrait of a Lady".
As early as the 6th century, there was a small fortress built on the island of San Pietro and it's from this fortress - which no longer exists - that the entire area (or sestiere) got its name. A church was also built on the island early in the 7th century. San Pietro di Castello became the first official seat of the Bishop of Venice, and it remained the city's main basilica until the seat was transferred to St. Mark's Basilica in 1807. The current church of San Pietro di Castello dates back to the 16th century, and access is included in the Chorus Pass. Among the church's many treasures, there is a carved stone seat known as "St. Peter's throne", which probably dates back to the 13th century - the back of the seat was actually made using an Arab funeral stele. Other than the church, its white campanile and its lovely quiet campo, the island is also home to a small convent. There are two bridges connecting San Pietro di Castello to the rest of the city, and both offer really nice views of the surrounding area.
If you walk all the way to the end of Riva degli Schiavoni, you'll eventually end up near Via Garibaldi, which has to be one of the largest streets in all of Venice. It was actually created by Napoleon in 1808 when he gave orders to fill up a large canal that would lead to the public gardens he also planned on establishing. It's actually a little weird to come upon a street that's large enough to accommodate cars after having spent several days walking around Venice's tiny little streets! The very first house on Via Garibaldi once belonged to Giovanni Caboto, or John Cabot as he is better known in Canada. This Venitian explorer landed in Newfoundland in 1497 and became the first European since the Vikings to set foot in what was to become Canada. The entrance to the public gardens can be found a little way further down the street, maked by a beautiful bronze statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi. These gardens are home to several pavilions used during the "Biennale di Venezia", one of the world's most famous art festivals.
La Donna Partigiana. That’s her official name. She is one of the most intriguing statues in the world, and one of the best hidden. In high tide this forlorn statue is submerged under the dark green waters of the lagoon. In low tide and sunlight she looks like a large piece of metal seaweed lying on stone steps. Look closer. You will see the shape of a body of a woman. This is a monument to the women killed fighting in WWII. Very few statues were ever erected to women who died during the world wide conflict of WWII. And no statue tells this story of secrecy and sadness better than this.
The Sestiero Castello features the sunny banks of the San Marco canal, with wide quays and overpriced cafés. This is a good spot to stock up on Vitamin D after all those dark walks through narrow and miasmic alleys - although the back of the Dorsoduro is equally sunny while less crowded. The main quay, the Riva Degli Schiavoni, offers great views and bracing fresh air. This is where you will catch the boat service to the Laguna Islands.
The rest of the district feels like "more of the same" after a while, elegant but chilly and none too inviting. The Castello ends at the Arsenale, which is not open to the public.
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