Romantic Italy: Venice (Part 1)

St Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore

St Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore

Venice is the capital of Veneto region northeast of Italy. A city of elegant palaces, villas and houses of various styles, built on marshy Venetian Lagoon across 118 small islands along the Adriatic Sea, and 400 bridges astride over the labyrinth of its 150 canals, Venice’s beauty is unparalleled.

Naturally Venice has been a travel destination for hundreds of years. It was part of the Grand Tour of 17th to 19th century, a travel vogue associated with European upper-class, and it continues to be a major attraction of European tour to these days receiving travelers from all over the world.

Venice was not connected to the mainland until a railroad causeway (Venice Railroad Bridge) was built in 19th century. Almost a century later, an automobile causeway (bridge Ponte della Liberta) was added in 1930’s alongside the rail road bridge. A bus terminal and car park was set up at Piazzale Roma where Ponte della Liberta ends north of the city. And that is as far as any vehicle can get.

The rest of Venice remains car free and within the city, foot and boat are still the only ways to get around. But with many bridges, water buses and taxis and plush gondolas available, it is fairly easy to get to places and a ride through Venice’s waterways decked by charming views is a pleasure. We actually cancelled the plan to take a boat tour which covers the same route anyway but we did take a gondola ride gliding across the narrow canals that bigger boats couldn’t get to.

From Venice Marco Polo Airport on the mainland, we took a shuttle bus across Ponte della Liberta and reached Venice at its bus terminal at Piazzale Roma. There was a boat station at the piazzale and a ticket office next to it. We purchased a couple of multi-day waterbus passes. They were less expensive than water taxis and gondolas and they were all we needed while in Venice besides the boat rides to Murano and Burano.

Enjoy photos of Venice and for some interesting history behind the grandeur and splendor of Venice, see the following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venice or surf the net.

Grand Canal (Piazzale Roma to Rialto Bridge)

View of Grand Canal from Piazzale Roma looking to the east with green dome of San Simeone Piccolo rising up south of Grand Canal

View of Grand Canal from Piazzale Roma looking to the east with green dome of San Simeone Piccolo rising up south of Grand Canal


On board of a waterbus from Piazzale Roma, we started our Venice experience riding down Grand Canal eastwards to our hotel. And what a grand welcome we received! The delightful sight of Mediterranean houses amidst limpid blue sky and open water was magical. Washing off the tedium of the journey and leaving behind the flight scheduling snafu by Lufthansa and USAairways that almost made us miss our flight out of US, delaying and rescheduling of the second flight from Munich to Venice and a luggage that did not arrive with us, it turned us into a jaunty state, ready to embrace Venice. Grand Canal snakes through Venice like an inverted S. This leg of ride spanned the first half of the first arc, from Piazzale Roma to Rialto Bridge near by our hotel, Hotel San Cassiano Ca’Favretto.
Ponte degli Scalzi, dome of San Geremia & bell tower of Palazzo Labia

Ponte degli Scalzi, dome of San Geremia & bell tower of Palazzo Labia

Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth (Church of the Discalced Description) north of Grand Canal

Church of Santa Maria di Nazareth (Church of the Discalced Description) north of Grand Canal

Palazzo Labia on corner of Cannaregio Canal and Grand Canal is a Baroque palace north of Grand Canal from 17th-18th century

Palazzo Labia on corner of Cannaregio Canal and Grand Canal is a Baroque palace north of Grand Canal from 17th-18th century

A smaller canal off Grand Canal with a bridge over it

A smaller canal off Grand Canal with a bridge over it

Hotel San Cassiano Ca’Favretto

The red building is Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto south of Grand Canal

The red building is Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto south of Grand Canal


Putting location, quality and value together, I finally decided on Hotel San Cassiano Ca’Favretto and it worked out great. The hotel is right on the Grand Canal with spectacular views, nice rooms, close to boat station and 5 minute walk to and west of the famous bridge Rialto.
Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto’s terrace on the Grand Canal

Hotel San Cassiano Ca'Favretto’s terrace on the Grand Canal

Chandelier in hotel lobby

Chandelier in hotel lobby

Hotel’s courtyard

Hotel’s courtyard

Through the narrow lanes to the hotel

Through the narrow lanes to the hotel

Chandelier in our room

Chandelier in our room

Elegant room

Elegant room

Chandelier in hotel’s breakfast room

Chandelier in hotel’s breakfast room


Daily breakfast included and served at the hotel was very good, from hot and cold food of sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, assortment of cheese and meat, cereal, etc. to fruits, juices and pastries.
View of Grand Canal from breakfast room’s balcony looking to the west

View of Grand Canal from breakfast room’s balcony looking to the west

View of Grand Canal from breakfast room’s balcony looking to the east

View of Grand Canal from breakfast room’s balcony looking to the east

A dog in the courtyard of house across from the canal barked occasional during breakfast time

A dog in the courtyard of house across from the canal barked occasional during breakfast time

Rialto Bridge and Rialto Market

Rialto Bridge from the north

Rialto Bridge from the north


In the heart of the historic Venice is Rialto Bridge. It was built in late 16th century replacing the original wooden bridge and remained the only bridge over Grand Canal till Academia Bridge was built in 1854.
Shops of various kinds range from Ruga dei Oresi (west of Rialto) to the bridge and Salizada Pio X (east of Rialto) and more on streets around

Shops of various kinds range from Ruga dei Oresi (west of Rialto) to the bridge and Salizada Pio X (east of Rialto) and more on streets around

Booth selling flamboyant Venetian masks

Booth selling flamboyant Venetian masks

Veggie and fruit stand

Veggie and fruit stand

Stand selling pasta, spices, olive oils, etc.

Stand selling pasta, spices, olive oils, etc.

Rialto Bridge from the south

Rialto Bridge from the south

Rialto Market

Rialto Market


Half way between Hotel San Cassiano Ca’Favretto and Rialto Bridge is Rialto Market of hundreds of years old. Fish and seafood are sold in the building on the right and fresh produce is sold in the tens left of the fish market.
Fresh, colorful produce

Fresh, colorful produce

Scallops

Scallops

Octopus

Octopus

 Dainty red cabbages

Dainty red cabbages

Grand Canal – Rialto Bridge to St Mark’s Square

People and gondolas near Rialto Bridge

People and gondolas near Rialto Bridge


Second day in Venice, we hopped on a waterbus from Rialto Bridge and traveled down southern stretch of Grand Canal heading to St Mark’s Square.
Grand buildings

Grand buildings

A garden/courtyard

A garden/courtyard

Ponte dell’ Accademia (Academia Bridge)

Ponte dell’ Accademia (Academia Bridge)

Dome of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St Mary of Health/Salvation)

Dome of Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (Basilica of St Mary of Health/Salvation)

Approaching the widest part of Grand Canal at its southern entrance

Approaching the widest part of Grand Canal at its southern entrance

Spectacular spot-Meeting of waters seen from top of Campanile at St Mark Square

Spectacular spot-Meeting of waters seen from top of Campanile at St Mark Square


Punta della Dogana (the wedge-shaped peninsular in the center of this photo) marks the southern entrance of Grand Canal. There Grand Canal reaches its widest point at 350 feet and merges with San Mark’s basin to the east, Canal di San Marco further east and Canal della Giudecca to the south. On the tip of Punta della Dogana is Dogna di Mare, an old custom house that is now an art center. Behind Dogna di Mare is Basilica of St Mary of Health/Salvation.
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore on Island San Giorgio Maggiore across from San Mark’s Square was designed by Palladio

Church of San Giorgio Maggiore on Island San Giorgio Maggiore across from San Mark’s Square was designed by Palladio

Church of Zitelle sits on Island Giudecca east of San Giorgio Maggiore

Church of Zitelle sits on Island Giudecca west of San Giorgio Maggiore

St Mark’s Square

Cradled on its south end by one of the broadest body of water in Venetian Lagoon where Grand Canal, St Mark’s Basin and Canal della Giudecca converge and framed by the most magnificent architectures in town, St Mark’s Square(Piazza San Marco) is the principle square and heart of Venice where locals, tourists and free spirited pigeons throng. On the east side of the square are St Mark’s Basilica and Palazzo Ducale. Procuratie Nuove, a group of three buildings connected to each other, surrounds the square on the other ends.

St Mark’s Campanile seen from the water

St Mark’s Campanile seen from the water


At about 321 feet (98meters), the top of the tower yields incredible views of Venice. It was definitely worth the long wait.
Main entrance to St Mark’s Square

Main entrance to St Mark’s Square


A corner of Procuratie Nuove(left), St Mark’s Basilica(center) & Palazzo Ducale(right)
Palazzo Ducale’s southern façade

Palazzo Ducale’s southern façade


A Gothic Palace lying at south east end of St Mark’s Square, adjacent and connected to St Mark’s Basilica, Palazzo Ducale was once the residence for Doge of Venice and is now a museum.
Center piece on PALAZZO DUCALE’s western facade

Center piece on PALAZZO DUCALE’s western facade

St Marks’s Clock Tower

St Marks’s Clock Tower

St Marks’s main facade facing west

St Marks’s main facade facing west


St Mark’s Basilica is a beautiful Byzantine church built in 832, opulently decorated by gilded mosaics. Photo taking is not allowed inside.
Upper center of western facade

Upper center of western facade

An orchestra playing convivial music

An orchestra playing convivial music


St Mark’s square supplies abundance of shops and restaurants for shopping and culinary delights. Outdoor sittings are great for resting and people watching.
St Mark’s Square from terrace of St Mark’s Basilica

St Mark’s Square from terrace of St Mark’s Basilica

Looking south to the water from terrace of St Mark’s Basilica

Looking south to the water from terrace of St Mark’s Basilica

St Mark’s Canal from St Mark’s Campanile

St Mark’s Canal from St Mark’s Campanile

Venice from St Mark’s Campanile

Venice from St Mark’s Campanile

St Mark’s Square and Procuratie Nuove from St Mark’s Campanile

St Mark’s Square and Procuratie Nuove from St Mark’s Campanile

San Giorgio Maggiore from St Mark’s Campanile

San Giorgio Maggiore from St Mark’s Campanile

Mermaid mime on Riva degli Schiavoni right by St Mark’s square

Mermaid mime on Riva degli Schiavoni right by St Mark’s square

St Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore

St Mark’s Square from San Giorgio Maggiore

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