We had a day trip planned to the hill towns of Veneto for the whole of the third and last day, so wanted to experience as much of Venice as we could that evening.
So I had read of the Bridge of Sighs in loads of books. Silly as I am, I hadn’t checked out how it looked. I had asked the receptionist at the hotel, where it was, and she had indicated it on the map. Now, Venice has just too many bridges, each one as pretty as the other. We couldn’t figure out which one was the Bridge of Sighs. We took pictures of every bridge – just in case, asked lots of locals, who pointed us in the general direction, which we already knew. It was only when we got on our gondola ride, that we finally managed to confirm which bridge was the Bridge of Sighs.
TGND had asked me about the legend behind the bridge. The bridge connects the interrogation rooms in Doges Palace to the old prison. So according to Lord Byron, the convicts would sigh at their last view of Venice, giving the bridge the name. When we first saw the windows of the prison, we had no idea it was a prison, and had wondered why they were so secure. Check out the picture below.
As I mentioned in another post, it is said that if you kiss while passing under Bridge of Sighs, your love will last forever.
One of the things on our agenda was gondola rides. I had read somewhere that gondola rides were over hyped, and touristy, so initially I had plans of doing ‘non-touristy’ things, but the first sight of a gondola had me succumbing to its charms. There seemed something extremely quaint about sitting in a gondola and weaving through the streets of Venice. We found ourselves a gondolier, who was a real charmer. We had him giving us a wonderful commentary as we passed different parts of Venice, the library(which seemed massive), old houses, most with the ground floor boarded up. There was a massive flood in the 1960s which left thousands homeless. Many left Venice to never return. A lot of ground floor apartments are boarded up. The risk of floods combined with high maintenance costs and Venice being an expensive city made it an unviable place to live in for a lot of people.
I decided to create collages in an effort to avoid my media limit exceeding again. Clockwise from the top left picture – The library that I mentioned, our charming gondolier, one of the houses on our route and just before entering into the grand canal, right outside San Marco Piazza.
Tallking of floods, Venice is flooded about 60 days every year between Oct and March. San Marco Piazza is the lowest, and is flooded quite a lot. Apparently it looks gorgeous even in floods, and there are tourists out there who try to go to Venice during these times, in the hope that they would get to witness a flood. I’ve seen pictures and it does look gorgeous! Although I have to say, I’m not too keen on braving floods to actually see it for myself.
So going back to the Gondola ride, our gondolier also told us about how they trained to become gondoliers. There are around 4oo gondoliers in Venice, and they have a very tough set training to qualify. Apparently when the Pope visited, he was one of the seven gondoliers chosen to row the Pope through Venice- it must have been such a cherished memory for him.
The smaller canal ride was quite smooth, the ride through the Grand Canal was slightly choppier, given the currents, but a wonderful experience all the same.
Clockwise from top left: In the Grand Canal, facing the Doges Palace and San Marco, going back into the little canal, passing under the Bridge of Sighs.
When the ride came to an end – much too soon, for our liking – we could have gone on and on, we went off on our favourite pastime of walking around aimlessly – Window shopping.
We weaved through streets after streets, catching glimpses of the Grand Canal every once in a while, crossing bridges onto islands and stopping to savour the atmosphere every once in a while. At one point, we reached a completely residential area, with only houses, no hotels or anything touristy. The only people we saw were people coming back from work, some with briefcases, others with delicious looking loaves of bread. Made me wish that one of them would invite us home for some delicious home-cooked meal. If wishes were horses…
We posed outside clotheslines hanging from windows, took pictures of quaint windows, and gorgeous windows with bursts of colour from the flowerpots placed at the windowsills. Made me want to live there..
We also passed street musicians singing, dancing, and one man was actually skating to the tune! We were so enthralled that we forgot to take a video! We had the fortune of having dinner listening to street musicians playing right next to us.
Dinner done, we took ourselves back to the hotel, and decided to turn in early. We had an early start the next day, and we certainly did not want to miss our tour.
PS: Recorded just so that we don’t forget, husband switched on English news on the telly in our hotel room. Daughter looks puzzled and says, ‘There’s something strange about this channel, I can actually understand it!’. All the other channels had been in Italian 🙂