VENICE, ITALY (May 2009)

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In May we drove down to Italy and visited some cities in this beautiful country. Venice we explored for a full day and the visit to this unique city warrants a seperate page.

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Venice, Italy
We stayed at the Hotel Mary on the mainland, at Campalto. Busline no.5 had a stop around the corner (be sure to buy a ticket at the tabacchi and beware of their mid-afternoon closing hours), which took us in less than 30 minutes to Piazzale Roma, our stepping stone to explore Venezia...

Venice, Italy
We bought a ticket for €16 p.p. which enabled us to get on and off these boats on the Canal Grande.
Venice, Italy
Just one of many 'streets' you look into, paved with water as it were.


Venice, Italy
From Piazzala Roma we went straight to the farthest point, San Marco. To work our way back.
Everywhere one looked were ships and boats: heavy traffic on the water.


Venice, Italy
One of many classical buildings I noticed on the waterfront. The church is Santa Maria del Rosario / St. Mary of The Rosary Church. All those boats on the water contribute to a feeling of fun & enjoyment, but I expect for those who live here it is quite a routine thing.

Venice, Italy

Venice (Venezia) is the capital of the region Veneto.
The city historically was an independent nation. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water" and "City of Bridges".
The city stretches across 118 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. The saltwater lagoon stretches along the shoreline between the mouths of the Po (south) and the Piave (north) Rivers.
The Venetian Republic was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. It was also a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain and spice trade) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century.

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

LEFT: Guardia di Finanza.
The origins of the Guardia di Finanza date back to 05Oct1774, when the "Light Troops Legion"was set up under the King of Sardinia,Victor Amadeus III.This was the first example in Italy of a special Corps specifically established and organized for financial surveillance duties along the borders, as well as for military defense.
Once the unification of Italy was completed in 1862, the "Customs Guards Corps" was set up. Its main task was Customs surveillance and co-participation in the Country's defense during war time. By Law no. 141 dated April 8th, 1881, the Customs Guards Corps became the "Royal Guardia di Finanza Corps" whose task was to 'impede, suppress and report smuggling activities and any other violation and transgression of financial laws and regulations', and to safeguard the interests of the tax administration, as well as to co-participate in enforcing law and order and public security.
The Corps took part in numerous rescue operations during serious natural disasters.
Custodian of the traditions of the Corps is the Guardia di Finanza Historical Museum.
[Source: ] Note the boat, equipped with canons. The Guardia de Finanza is not kidding!

RIGHT: For many, gondola rides are a must while visiting Venice. For those who worry about money: don't do it. I do not worry, but I didn't hire a gondola either. I see more by walking around.
At home I googled for prices, to include here. It seems there are official rates. But 'official' doesn't imply these rates are written in stone.
The standard rate is €62 for a 50-minute ride. That won't mean you will get a 50-minute trip, it may be a little shorter. Extra time will cost you (rates quoted as €31 per 25 minutes). At night, especially after 8pm, prices go up. A gondolier who will sing will expect to be paid extra. You would be save to expect to pay €100,- when you are done, I read somewhere. A gondola can carry up to 6 people.

Venice, Italy
When you disembark the ferry or vaporetto, you will likely face crowds. But when you enter the many small streets you are almost on your own, except perhaps the area around the Piazza San Marco.

Venice, Italy

The Chiesa di San Zaccaria (St. Zacharias) is a church in Venice, dedicated to the father of John the Baptist, whose body it supposedly contains.
The present church was built in a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles between 1444 and 1515.
Chiesa di San Zaccaria, Venice, Italy

The original Romanesque church was rebuilt in the 1170s (when the present campanile was built) and was replaced by a Gothic church in the 14th century. [Wikipedia]
Venice, Italy

Gondola in Venice, Italy

Church of Santa Maria Formosa in Venice, Italy
Church of Santa Maria Formosa.

Tradition has it that the construction of this church was due to an apparition of Our Lady as a shapely (formosa in Italian) woman to Saint Magno in the 7th century.
The building has been rebuilt in the 1492, by architect Codussi.
The church is particular because of the two façades it has: one facing the channel and one facing the campo (square in Venice). The baroque bell tower was finished in 1688.


Piazza San Marco,
Venice, Italy
The Piazza San Marco is the principal square of Venice.
It is the only urban space called a piazza in Venice; the others, regardless of size, are called campi. The Piazza originated in the 9th century as a small area in front of the original St Mark's Basilica. It was enlarged to its present size and shape in 1177, when the Rio Batario, which had bounded it to the west, and a dock, which had isolated the Doge's Palace from the square, were filled in. The rearrangement was for the meeting of Pope Alexander III and the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa.
The Piazza has always been seen as the centre of Venice. It was the location of all the important offices of the Venetian state, and has been the seat of the archbishopric since the 19th century. It was also the focus for many of Venice's festivals. It is a greatly popular place in Italy even today. [Wikipedia]
Basilica di San Marco

Saint Mark's Basilica (Italian: Basilica di San Marco a Venezia), the cathedral of Venice, is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture.
Originally it was the "chapel" of the Venetian rulers, and not the city's cathedral.
The first St Mark's was a temporary building in the Doge’s Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria.
This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832; from the same century dates the first St Mark's Campanile (bell tower). The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica since 1063. The basilica was consecrated in 1094, the same year in which the body of Saint Mark was supposedly rediscovered in a pillar by Vitale Falier, doge at the time.
While the basic structure of the building has been altered a lot, its decoration changed greatly over time. The succeeding centuries, especially the fourteenth, all contributed to its adornment, and seldom did a Venetian vessel return from the Orient without bringing a column, capitals, or friezes, taken from some ancient building, to add to the fabric of the basilica.

Masks of Venice
The 'Masks of Venice' has become a huge industry.
Every streetcorner you turn, you'll see more shops selling masks. Prices range from a few euros to elaborate ones costing hundreds of euros.
Here is a nice selection, taken during 'Carnivale 2005', by Silvano on Pbase
Masks of Venice
While the masks such as on top remind of festive times and the tradition of 'Carnivale di Venezia', the masks such as above remind of truly dark ages, when the Plague decimated whole communities.
Doctors roamed the streets clad in clothing that covered the body in full, while the beak of the mask was filled with herbs which allegedly protected them from the disease but also protected warded off the terrible smell of rotting corpses....


Gondola in Venice, Italy


Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy


Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge, Venice The Rialto Bridge ('Ponte di Rialto') is one of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal in Venice. It is the oldest bridge across the canal and probably the most famous in the city.

The first dry crossing of the Grand Canal was a pontoon bridge built in 1181. The development and importance of the Rialto market on the eastern bank increased traffic on the floating bridge. So it was replaced in 1255 by a wooden bridge.
The connection with the market eventually led to a change of name for the bridge.
During the first half of the 15th century two rows of shops were built along the sides of the bridge. The rents brought an income to the State Treasury, which helped maintain the bridge.
Maintenance was vital for the timber bridge. It was partly burnt in the revolt led by Bajamonte Tiepolo in 1310. In 1444 it collapsed under the weight of a crowd watching a boat parade and it collapsed again in 1524.
The idea of rebuilding the bridge in stone was first proposed in 1503. Several projects were considered over the following decades. Even the great Michelangelo was considered as designer of the bridge.
The present stone bridge was finally completed in 1591. It is remarkably similar to the wooden bridge it succeeded. Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico the covered ramps carry rows of shops. [Wikipedia]
Venice, Italy
On the Rialto Bridge: ... the affluent....

... and the (much) less fortunate...
Venice, Italy


.Gondola in Venice, Italy


Venice, Italy


Ponte dell Accademia
Ponte Accademia

A concentrated game of chess
The Ponte dell Accademia or Accademia Bridge in Venice is one of the three (some say four) which span the Grand Canal. The Accademia Bridge is the most southern of the three and was named for the Accademia galleries on the South Bank of the Grand Canal in Venice.
According to Magno, a chronicler of the Middle Ages, the Venice council suggested building a bridge at this spot in 1488 but it was voted down. It was not until Alfred Neville designed and built the Ponte dell Accademia in 1854 that the idea came into fruition.
This bridge was replaced in 1933 by a higher wooden structure which allowed the vaporettos, also known as water buses, to pass underneath. In 1986, an identical Accademia Bridge was built with steel bracing for.
more support.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy
The Ponte dell Accademia has the most spectacular view of the palaces and buildings along the Grand Canal.


Venice, Italy

Carnivale Masks in Venice, Italy

Reminded me of work...



Venice, Italy
A thirsty dog


The Chiesa di San Rocco, Venezia
Venice, Italy

LEFT: The Chiesa di San Rocco (Church of St Roch) was built between 1489 and 1508 by Bartolomeo Bon the Younger, but was substantially altered in 1725. The façade dates from 1765 to 1771.
Near the church is the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, noted for its numerous Tintoretto paintings. It was founded in the 15th century as a confraternity to assist the citizens in time of plague.
Venice was severely hit by the bubonic plague several times over the 14th - 17th century period. As a trading nation Venice was vulnerable pandemics. In 1630 46.000 people in the city died because of the plague, some 90.000 in total succumbed in the immediate area.


Venice, Italy

The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, usually just called the Frari.
It is one the greatest churches in the city, it has the status of a minor basilica (cathedral). It is located on the 'Campo dei Frari' at the heart of the San Polo district.
The imposing edifice is built of brick, and is one of the city's three notable churches built in the Italian Gothic style. As with many Venetian churches, the exterior is rather plain.
Venice, Italy



Venice, Italy
Arriving home, Venetian-style.


Not all buildings are in a fit state. And I noticed a fresco here, in need of some dedicated attention.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy


Venice, Italy
We disembarked at a place not recommended by the guidebooks, Campo San Marcuola, looking for a meal at a more local restaurant. We found a nice place at the Pizzeria Vesuvio (Cannaregio) and were pleasantly entertained by the two waiters who were enthusiastically greeting people passing by, going home.
And it was easy to see how the young women passing by got a little bit more attention from these charming waiters. My female company were especially impressed by one of the waiters, Favio.
And I had nothing to complain either, equally attentive for the people passing by or sitting near me, while hugging a 'grande birra rosso' of monumental proportions!

Venice, Italy


And while the sun was sinking low, we took the ferry to nearby Piazzala Roma where we caught the bus back to our hotel at Campalto, Hotel Mary.
The next morning, after an excellent breakfast buffet, we continued our journey of which you can read more


My 2015 visit to Venice

External link: In Venice Today