VENICE – the “city of canals”

VENICE – the “city of canals”

The “floating city” of Venice has been known also as the “city of canals” or the “city of water” making it one of the most unique and interesting places in the world.

Connected to the Ducal Palace and the State Prison of the city of Venice is the famous enclosed bridge, the Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri). Made of white limestone with windows of stone bars, the bridge is named by Lord Byron, an English poet, for the moans of prisoners who sigh or moan at their final view of the beautiful sight of the Venice lagoon before being taken to their prison cells or before their execution.

About ten-minute walk from St. Mark’s Square is the oldest and most popular stone arch-pedestrian bridge, the Rialto Bridge (Ponti di Rialto).

The bridge used to be a wooden bridge which had crossed the Grand Canal for more than 400 hundred years and is one of the architectural icons of this historical city.

The bridge consisting primarily of steps that can be a challenge for tourists with baby strollers and wheelchairs has three walkways with shops that sell jewelry, linens, Murano handblown glasses and masks, and other items for the tourists. The shops line both sides of the structure which is covered by portico.

For the art enthusiasts, the best treasure house of art collection to visit is the Academy Gallery (Accademia) exhibiting Venetian paintings in their historical order starting from the 14th century. For the modern art the best place is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

The last site we visited is the island of Murano, internationally famous for its glassmaking industry particularly lampworking dating back to the late 13th century. We watched a demonstration of glassblowing by the artisans of Murano who are still employing the centuries-old techniques, crafting from contemporary art glass jewelry to glass chandeliers and wine stoppers.

Murano is also famous for interesting antique buildings, most famous of which is the Church of St. Peter the Martyr dating back from 1348.

Transportation within the city remains as it was in the centuries past. People travel along canals instead of streets, using boats instead of cars.

Most Venetians now travel by motorized waterbuses known as “vaporetti” which cost nearly 7 euros for a breif ride.

Along the maze of canals you could see posts for mooring gondolas, the famous symbols of Venice, the classical Venetian flat-bottomed boats with high prows and stems propelled by oarsmen called “gondoliers”. The gondola is now mostly used for tourists or for weddings, even funerals and other kinds of ceremonies.

With or without singing, a gondola ride is expensive unless you like to spend at least a hundred bucks for an hour of romance.

The most ideal time to visit Venice is spring or fall.