Venezia (without Piazza San Marco)
We spent three days altogether in Venezia. First we made a
one-day excursion by train from Padova. A couple of
weeks later we drove to Venezia from Nosellari
stopping along the way in Vicenza. Instead of trying
to give you a day by day
description of our visits to Venezia, I'll simply combine everything
and attempt to provide as coherent a picture as I can.
Venezia is a unique and wonderful place. There is
too much to see in any reasonable amount of time that a tourist might
have. Venezia is basically a group of islands separated by
large and small canals. The islands are close together and
jam packed with buildings. Among and between the buildings
mostly narrow pedestrian "streets". It is said that
even long time residents of Venezia can easily become lost in the maze
of these little walkways which end and intersect seemingly without plan.
The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is the main artery of transportation and transport in
Venezia. It is about 3.8 kilometers long, 30 to 90 meters
wide, has an average depth of 5 meters and is crossed by
NASA aerial photo
The canals of Venezia and especially the Grand Canal are used by boats
of all kinds: taxis, vaporetti (bus boats), furit and vegetable
delivery boats, ambulance boats, building construction boats, speed
boats, gondolas, ferries, frozen food delivery boats and many others.
The next few photos show the Grand Canal. Vaporetti (powered
vessels, but no longer steam or vapor
powered) follow many different routes on the Grand Canal.
There are over 30 vaporetti stations. The
difference of the various valporetti routes is simply at which stations
stop and pickup/drop-off passengers. For example, the Number
1 vaporetto stops at all of the stations along the Grand Canal. Other
vaporetti skip various stations and some vaporetti go to the islands of
Lido, Murano, Burano and others.
The Grand Canal is lined with Palazzi some of which are grand and well
run from a little under the weather to downright soggy.
In the photo below on the left there are two vaporetto stations - boxy
things with a yellow stripe on which the name of the station is marked.
One of the stations is for valporetti traveling in one direction
and the other station is for valporetti going in the other
direction. A vaporetto is dropping-off/picking-up people at the
far station before continuing on its route.
The Rialto Bridge
The Rialto Bridge is the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal.
Among the architects submitting plans for the bridge were
Antoine Palladio (see Vicenza blog) and Michelangelo. But
their designs included multiple spans which were judged to be a problem
for Canal traffic. Ultimately the design of Antonio da Ponte
with a single span was chosen and construction began in 1588 and was
completed in 1591.
photo of the Rialto Bridge
Because the Rialto Bridge is one of Venezia' most famous landmarks and
because the bridge is lined with shops on both sides of
the walkway, the bridge is often jammed with people.
Here we are photographed on the center of the Rialto Bridge.
Gondolas are flat-bottomed black (previously by law) boats that carry
as many as six passengers. They are "driven" by a gondolier
who stands in the rear of the boat and uses an oar to row
the boat forward. The canals of Venezia are too deep
to simply use a pole to push the boat along. According to
Wikipedia gondolas are "made using 8 different types of wood (fir, oak,
cherry, walnut, elm, mahogany, larch and lime) and are composed of 280
pieces." The left side of a gondola is 24 centimeters larger
than the right side which makes the boat tilt to the left in order to
compensate for the rowing action of the gondolier. The cost
of a new gondola today would be about 20,000 Euros.
Gondolas today are for tourists. A 45 minute
gondola ride costs around 100 Euros. If one must ride in a
gondola, the way to do it inexpensively is to take a traghetto gondola
personal ferry) which will move you from one bank of a canal to the
otpposite bank for a nominal fee.
We had advice from a Venezia expert to make sure that we visited the
Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (known as "Frari") and San
Giovanni e Paolo (known as "San Zanipolo).".
The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari is an Italian
gothic style church which was completed in 1338. The
(pictured below) was completed in 1396. The church is
to the Assumption, the belief that at the end of Mary's life she was
physically taken up into heaven. Sueann and I had seen the
"Assumption and "Annunication" so frequenly in Italian churches that we
finally looked them up.
San Giovanni e Paolo (photo below) is dedicated to John and Paul, but
not, according to Wikipedia, "to the Biblical Apostles of the same
but two obscure martyrs of the Early Christian church in Rome, whose
names were recorded in the 3rd century but whose legend is of a later
Another church we visited was Santa Maria Assunta ai Gesuiti whose construction was completed in 1728.
When we stepped inside the church we were taken with the grandeur of the
alter which is pictured below. The twisted columns supporting the
altar dome reminded us of columns we saw on the alter in Saint Peters in
Rome. Altogether this altar was to us the most spectacular of
the altars we have seen outside of Rome.
Here is a Web photo of Santa Maria Assunta ai Gesuiti along with its
There were just too many photos to continue with the Piazza San Marco
material on this web page. We will post Piazza San Marco
and some words in a future blog page,.
Sueann and Jeff
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