‘Venice - Venesia
Originally built by the ancient Veneti people, in the marsh lands and on over 100 small islands in the Venetian Lagoon, away from the shore to avoid capture from the marauding hoards and then successive Germanic and Hun invasions, back in the 10th Century BCE
After purchasing our 48 hour 'all ferry' pass from the campsite reception, with no mark up on the price, we set off in brilliant sunshine to walk the 750 metres from Camping Miramare to the ferry terminal. We arrived with five minutes to spare before the ferry did and validated our tickets before entering and then swiped them again to go through the electronic gates. We found ourselves seats on the outside of the vessel and were soon powering through the turquoise waters of the Venetian lagoon on our 20 minute boat ride, which, after just one stop at Lido Santa Maria Elisabetta C for 20 seconds, we picked our way through the busy waterways as we approached the landing stage, in front of the scaffold covered Church of Santa Maria della Pieta on Quay B.
We turned right and worked our way through the crowds towards The Square of San Marco. On the second bridge we stopped to see the Bridge of Sighs.
‘Bridge of Sighs - Ponte dei sospin
Given the English name by Lord Byron in the 19th Century, is a lose translation of the Italian name for the bridge. It is, as the story goes, where convicts would sigh at the final view of Venice through the stone window before their incarceration and execution. In reality, the small cells in the roof were used for for small time, petty criminals. Also little could be seen from inside the bridge due to the limestone grills covering the windows!
Legends say that if, while riding on a gondola at sunset under the Bridge of Sighs, they will be granted eternal love and bliss - I personally believe this was made up by the institute for Gondola Drivers as the €100 for 35 minutes seems a bit steep
From there we passed by the long queues of people lining up to visit Doge's palace and, passing between the columns of San Marco and San Teodoro, we entered Saint Marks Square. A huge square surrounded on 3 sides by Cafés, restaurants and bars and on the third side the magnificent 5 domed, gold painted frontage of St Marks Basilica, and amazingly wonderful piece of Christian architecture. As many of you know, we don't pay to go in to many places and, this was no exception. The queues were long and slow moving and groups were being led by uninterested guides waving some sort of banner, hat or flag on a walking stick to keep their bored looking flock of followers under control. We instead exited the square through a side entrance and over a canal, we soon arrived at a small square, unnamed with the Chiesa di San Gallo at one end and some seats under cover at the other end. We stopped for a beer and to use the cafés toilet facilities. €13 for a pint and a half of bottled beer later and refreshed, we set off in a northward direction to find the Grand Canal and to see some of the maze that is Venice. After a few dead ends, we emerged into the hustle and bustle of the heart of Venice, the multilane river heaving with everything from the river buses, car ferry, gondolas and river taxis flitting back and forth across the stretch of water. We followed the footpath as we started back towards Saint Mark's Square, soon to be funnelled back into the maze of back streets when the walkway abruptly ended. It was then that I realised that the arrows under some of the street names indicated where the river bus stops were. We decided to cross the canal and explore the other side for a while. We hopped on a number 1 bus and a couple of minutes later hopped off again at San Silvestro, where we passed under a shallow arched passageway built in the 1st century AD and into the living quarters and quiet back streets. We followed these for a while passing down some paths between buildings that were so narrow, I had to stand sideways to get my shoulders through. After a while we headed back towards the canal through the recently closed fish market, to get back to the opposite side across one of only three bridges, the Ponte di Rialto, an amazing construction and a bit of a bottle neck for the ferries and gondolas as they all try to follow the strict rules of the road.We walked back through the city towards the Castello area of the city to visit the gates to the Venetian Arsenal. then back through the back streets to the ferry terminal and back to the campsite. So much to see and do here, it really needs a week.After getting back to the campsite, we didn't get supper made until 9pm