Beautiful Thing

Our first day proper in Venice and we woke to sunshine and clear crisp blue skies despite the cool temperatures. Perfect walking weather. Time to hit the big guns.
St Marks Square was the first stop, and whilst busy, was not as hectic as I had imagined.

St Mark's Square, Venice, Italy.

The square is dominated by the incredible Saint Mark's Basilca at one end but I found the symmetrical buildings and passage ways of the National archaeological Museum that lock in the square to be equally as beguiling. The Venetian Gothic architecture is everywhere and astonishing to think it has survived more than five centuries.

Doge's Palace, Venice, Italy.

St Mark's Campanile compliments the ornate cathedral as an imposing tower and statement of intent, making the whole square one of the most beautiful we've seen in Europe.
We didn't head up the tower, even early on a January morning the queues had begun to grow and there was no guarantee my vertigo wouldn't make it a wasted trip.

St Mark's Square, Venice, Italy.

The impressive Doge's Palace sits between the square and the sea, and the infamous Bridge of Sighs traverses a canal and connects the palace to the New Prison and is view-able from the Ponte della Paglia on the lagoon front.
All in all, a pretty impressive start, and it wasn't even midday.

The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy.

We meandered through the city's tiny back streets and canals with the intention of crossing the Grand Canal to lunch in the Dorsodouro area.
We stumbled across one of the cheap Gondola Traghetto stops, that get you across the Grand Canal without the need for a bridge, water taxi or a traditional, more expensive Gondola.
At two Euros to cross the canal, it was an absolute bargain.
We were quickly discovering the best way to enjoy Venice is to have a very rough plan of where you want to head and then essentially to lose yourself on the way to finding it! The city is compact and easily walk-able in a day or two, and for all the blind alleys and dead ends you'll wander down, you'll never be far from a point of reference that will enable you to retrace your steps and forage forward.

Gondolier, Venice, Italy.

On this side of the canal we took the opportunity to take a closer look at the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, which is another defining Venetian building on the Grand Canal.
No gondolas for our return across the Grand Canal to San Marco district as we walked over the Ponte dell'Accademia, a temporary wooden bridge that replaced Alfred Neville's steel bridge in 1933. Neville's steel bridges still exist and compliment the city, but the second bridge to span the Grand Canal was deemed too modernist in it's day and replaced by the current wooden bridge. It's been rebuilt and repaired several times in the intervening years, as the decision on what to replace it with continues to be an epic story of Venetian politics.

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, Venice.

Next up was the centre piece of the Grand Canal, the fabulous Rialto Bridge.
The bridge, despite it's tourist trappings that now surround it's thoroughfare, still holds court as a wonderful demonstration of classical design in a city dominated by Gothic architecture.
It sits on 12,000 wooden staves, and has done since it's completion in 1591 and like everywhere in this city, it just begs to be painted, photographed or captured on film.

Is there a more beautiful city in the world? If there is, we've not seen it yet.

Rialto Bridge, Venice.


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