Venice

Riva degli Schiavoni

CONSIGLIATO DA PIEROP IL THU FEB 11 11:23:48

A trip through history

Riva degli Schiavoni

I start from Riva degli Schiavoni, near St. Mark’s Square. If you look towards the water, St. Mark’s Basin, what was once the real port of Venice, you will see the stops of nearly all the vaporetto and, in the background, the island of San Giorgio (St. George), with its large church designed by Palladio. Behind you, the monument dedicated to Victor Emanuel II built in 1887 for the International Art Exhibition, the work of sculptor Ettore Ferrari.
Just next to the monument you will see a small porch or sotoportego, as it is called in Venice. In reality that porch was the entrance to a convent that until a few hundred years ago was closed off by large doors. If you look carefully you can still see its hinges. If you were to go through this large door, you would fnd yourself in the square known as Campo S. Zaccaria. To the right the old convent is now a police station. To the left of the building you will find a small garden once destined for use as a cemetery, like many other squares of varying sizes around Venice, then there is the church, a work of the architect Mauro Codussi. Right in front there is the place I recommend for your coffee, Bar Karibu (Campo San Zaccaria, Castello 4682, closed on Monday, telephone +39 041 09 94 620). Among the myriad of tourist traps this area is studded with, here you will find a friendly and younger atmosphere.
Now you have to go back to where you started, but you must first have a look at the outstanding portal of the other entrance to the square/convent with the gigantic sculpted Madonna, and there is a stone with ancient injunctions of the Serenissimi Esecutori, the authorities of the old Venetian Republic, against blaspheming to preserve the sacred nature of the spot. We are now back “on the water” again, travelling the length of the Giudecca canal, the great water way that, in a certain sense, is our ring road. On our left there is the Dogana da Mar. As I told you the St. Mark’s Basin area was the city’s port in olden times and that small white tower with the large gold ball symbolising the world held up by titans was the location of the customs’ house. It was there that the ships from all over the world had to pay duty on the goods introduced into the city. On the left, on the other hand, after passing the Island of San Giorgio, starts Giudecca, the largest island of the South lagoon. This was the island of the Judaeans, as the name itself shows, before the Jews were moved into the Ghetto inside the city. In its skyline you can see brick chimneys. Before the activation of the petrochemical industry at Marghera in fact, Giudecca was the centre of the city’s industrial growth. You will be struck by the large white church in the centre of the Island. It is the Basilica del Redentore, one of Palladio’s masterpieces, as he successfully expressed and reinterpreted the classical architectural forms by finally managing to do what he had attempted in his other works (like the church of San Giorgio that we saw before). In previous words finding the perfect blend between the form of the classical Greek temple and the “little house” module. When your vaporetto is exactly in front of the church, you will be able to see the perfect harmony of the forms that in line make of the building a picture in the air and above the water. At this point of the canal, for hundreds of years, on the third Sunday of July the Venetians have constructed a floating bridge of boats for Redentore Festival. The temple, in fact, was built to thank the Lord for freeing the city from the plague in 1576. Every year since then the Venetians have celebrated the commemoration with a pilgrimage to the church and with a night-time party on the boats that lasts until dawn. It is something not to be missed. Get off the vaporetto at the Zattere stop. On the other bank of the canal, on the right there is the huge Molino Stucky, up to the beginning of the twentieth century a four mill that employed half the city, today it continues to do so as the Hilton hotel. Enjoy the walk along the bank of the Zattere, in spring time swarming with students sunbathing rather than going to class. Here up to the 1940s there were different swimming stations and there is still the odd Venetian who is in the habit of taking the plunge, thumbing his nose at the rules and regulations. On the other side of the canal stands the church by Anzolo Rafaèl housing paintings by Veronese, even though this area was once the poorest in the city.
Another interesting point is Casin dei Nobili. In eighteenth century Venice there were a great many houses of ill-repute that married the characteristics of real brothels with those of the casino. Gambling dens with girls, in other words. This one had a noble clientele while many others existed for different social classes. Just follow the calle as far as the Ponte delle Maravegie (Bridge of Wonders). Its name owes to a legend that tells of a family where seven sisters lived, one more beautiful than the other with the exception of one who was very, very ugly. One night seven stars appeared in the sky, six of them shining brightly and one a little dim, suddenly the latter became the brightest of all and so the girl turned into the most beautiful of the sisters. Descending the bridge, on the right-hand side in Fondamenta Nani stands the Cantinone Storico where one can eat a good cicheto (appetizer) and an ombra (glass of white wine) from the cellar from among bottles of every type.
Now you can follow the Calle and you will soon be at the Accademia. On your right stands the famous picture gallery that is home to some of the greatest masterpieces in Italian art while, on the left, beyond the vaporetto stops you will find the bridge of the Accademia. This was built by the Austrians in the nineteenth century and was very different. Once it was an iron suspension bridge, the junior version of the Brooklyn bridge, so to speak. Then with Italian Unification it was knocked down and a competition was held for the construction of a new bridge. In the meantime, a wooden one was built, It was meant to be temporary but is still there! And just think that Venetians complained about how long it took to build the fourth bridge over the Grand Canal... While we’re on the subject of water buses, hop on a number 1 going left towards Piazzale Roma and begin the tour of the Canal Grande. You could have taken a hire boat or gondola, but I assure you it would have cost much more and lasted a much shorter time. Furthermore, in this way you get to meet Venetians and their, how should I put it, rough manners. Many guides will be able to describe the mansions along the Grand Canal in a more precise way than I can. I recommend enjoying the trip, looking not just at the monuments but also at the gardens or looking upwards to discover the universe of covered roof terraces and bell-towers. Certainly you must take a long careful look at Ca’ Foscari, at the “bend” in the Grand Canal, once home to one of the city’s richest and most important families and now the seat of the University. As in the old days, the platform known as “machina” is set up in front of its balconies from which the VIPs watch the historical Regatta, on the first Sunday in September. Past Ca’ Foscari begins the Rio of Ca’ Foscari canal that then continues with Rio Novo (new), a great work that comes down to us from the Fascist Regime as part of the town planning - that is still in progress - projecting the city towards the mainland and the train and bus stations. Rio Novo in fact enables you to reach Piazzale Roma quickly, without having to travel the length of Canal Grande. But this way you would miss the trip under the Rialto bridge with the Fondaco dei Tedeschi (German warehouse), the menagerie and the commercial station of the whole of central Europe in Venice, today home to the central post office on the right and, on the left, the Fabbriche Nove (New Factories) built in the mid sixteenth century by Sansovino, once upon a time the commercial and economic heart of the city. In quick succession on the left hand side there is the Pescheria, (fish market), a Neo-gothic (1907) building by architect Ruolo, then there is the imposing Ca’ Pesaro which houses the Museum of modern and oriental art designed by architect and esoterist Baldassarre Longhena and, in front, Ca’ Vendramin Calergi di Codussi, now a Casino but also the place where Richard Wagner lived until his death.
Now you can stop in the Fondamenta degli Ormesini, in the area that was once the Arab warehouse. Here you could happen to bump into statues of merchants with turbans and iron noses and large houses with sculpted camels which you could visit if it were not dinner time. For dinner, I can taking you to a genuine Venetian place. There will be no raw scampi and bottles opened with a sabre, but plastic chairs and “little flags”. In the Fondamenta degli Ormesini at number 2800 there is the Antica Mola (closed on Wednesday, telephone +39 041 71 07 68). What do I recommend? Gnocchetti alla granseola (spider crab baby dumplings).
Walking the length of the Fondamenta, keeping the canal on your right, you can find quiet pubs, bars and restaurants that are slightly out of the ordinary and alternative. You will enjoy spending the evening here. In Venice it is useless looking for the bright lights of the metropolis and, what is more, you can continue to walk between one bar and another.
As a last place to visit, I would recommend walking the length of the Fondamenta, until the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, that gives its name to the street. The schools where lay corporations dedicated to particular saints, with various functions, principally that of mutual aid. The word "Grande” (big) indicated that nobles belonged to it while the, so to speak, normal schools counted middle-class citizens among their members. Now turn around the this enormous school, go over the wooden bridge and have a look at the space given over to theatrical pursuits in Campo de l’Abbazia, walk under the long arcade beneath which the reflections of the moon in the water create atmospheres of magical meditation and, as soon as you can, turn right. Here is another aspect of the city with the splendid view of the Sacca della Misericordia dock and that last house at the bottom on the left extending towards the lagoon like the figurehead of a ship. That is the Casin degli Spiriti, as Ghosts here in Venice had a house of their own. In the closed garden where the melancholy cypress trees stand tall against the sky, there is the old Misericordia Hospital where, afflicted by the plague, thousands of Venetians died; for a long time it served as a stop and post-mortem room for the dead that were taken to the cemetery of S. Michele in Isola, again in the years following the bloody event of the Second World War.

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CONSIGLIATO DA PIEROP IL THU FEB 11 11:23:48 A trip through history Riva degli Schiavoni

I start from Riva degli Schiavoni, near St. Mark’s Square. If you look towards the water, St. Mark’s Basin, what was once the real port of Venice, you will see the stops of nearly all the vaporetto and, in the background, the island of San Giorgio (St. George), with its large church designed by Palladio. Behind you, the monument dedicated to Victor Emanuel II built in 1887 for the International Art Exhibition, the work of ...

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