Venice is considered among the the most beautiful cities in the world due to its unusual urban design and artistic heritage. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Venice is comprised of 118 islands separated by an extensive system of canals within the shallow Venetian Lagoon and linked by 400 bridges. My first visit was in early October 2018 with a small group for a week’s duration.
Getting to Venice
Venice is served by the Venice Marco Polo Airport on the mainland and accessible via train or ferries.
Our group opted for the ferry with its terminal well integrated with the airport. This was my first cool moment since our arrival, just a short 8 minute walk aided by conveyor belts.
The ferry ride is about 40 minutes and transits through the Grand Canal, the largest waterway and feeder. Our group disembarked from the one of the many water stations along the Grand Canal from which we hauled our luggage to our AirBnB in the San Marco district. There are no cars, buses, bicycles, nor skateboarding allowed in Venice, and for good reason, the streets are narrow and pedestrian friendly (save for the hoards of tourists at many times of the year. Fortunately for us, October wasn’t too crazy). The map below gives you an idea of the layout of Venice. Note that Murano is just a short distance away to the northeast.
Venice has an effective water based transit system, you can buy a transit card and load it up with cash as need be. The ACTV, a public transport company, has more than 120 floating stations (jetties) and 30 well-connected lines. Another popular waterbus in Venice is the “vaporetto” which has 19 scheduled lines that serve locales within Venice, and travel between Venice and nearby islands, e.g., Murano, Burano, and Lido Island. Alilaguna is the name of the waterbus / ferry service that our group took which services the Venice Marco Polo Airport.
And of course, the Gondolas
Gondolas in Venice are strictly regulated as to their construction, visual branding, and fare structure. This came about to protect the tourists, but also, to prevent one-upmanship among gondola operators. They are very expensive! According to the signs posted, a 40-minute gondola ride should cost 80 euros for a maximum of 6 people. For each additional 20 minutes it costs 40 euros on top of that. Evening gondola rides after 7pm cost 100 euros for 40 minutes and 50 euros for every additional 20 minutes.
Just look out for rush hour!
Commercial & Public Services Access
The canal system is also essential for commerce
And fire protection services
Famous Bridges of Venice
The Rialto Bridge, an architectural icon of Venice, is the oldest of the four bridges that span the Grand Canal.
The Accademia Bridge, among the four bridges that span the Grand Canal, has the best view and is pretty popular at sunset. This bridge links the San Marco district with the Accademia Gallery in Dorsoduro. The 1854 iron bridge was replaced in 1932-33 with this wooden design and replaced in 1986, but to the same plans. My featured photo on top was taken after sunset from this bridge.
Views from the bridge.
View from along the Grand Canal
Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)
St. Marks’ Square is the main square of Venice as is bounded by Church of St. Mark on the eastern side. On the south side is the Clock Tower. The remaining sides form the long arcades that were once occupied by high officers of state in the days of the republic of Venice in the early 16th century. Shops, offices, and restaurants now occupy these arcades.
Great views from the Clock Tower
Church of St. Mark and to the right is Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Celebration in St. Mark’s Square
During one of our group strolls we happened across what was later confirmed to be the celebrations of the 151th anniversary of the foundation of the Venice Local Police Corps. The Giornale Nord est later reported (Google translation) that; “A solemn ceremony, in the presence of the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, councilor for the local police and urban security Giorgio D’Este, the general commander of the body, Marco Agostini, in which the city’s civil and military authorities took part. Deployed in front of the Basilica di San Marco representatives of each local police department, including the Kuma dog unit, and 64 new agents of the training work group, who this morning publicly swore “loyalty to the Italian Republic, the Constitution and to the laws and to fulfill with discipline and honor all the duties of the office in the interest of the citizens and the Administration for the public good and the local community “.
Below are my photos of this celebration
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
This palace, just east of the Clock Tower from St. Mark’s Square, was home to the supreme authority of the former Venetian Republic.
The Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) and other waterfront views
Just a short walk from Doge’s Palace is the Bridge of Sighs. According to Wikipedia; the enclosed bridge is made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison (Prigioni Nuove) to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. It was designed by Antonio Contino (whose uncle Antonio da Ponte had designed the Rialto Bridge) and was built in 1600.
My group sails away into the sunset on their NCL Norwegian Star cruise ship.
Venetians are having a tough time managing sustainable tourism and their city is at risk of losing its UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Venice has seemingly been loved to death, it is bursting at the seams during peak tourist season and beyond. Below is a sample of the signage to help keep tourists in check.
Guess how many city violations these tourists in the photo below are committing?
Public Works has pre-positioned temporary walkway infrastructure in anticipation of seasonal flooding.
The clothing worn by former plague doctors was intended to protect them from airborne diseases.
Then a big cruise ship passes by
Spa with the help of skin eating fish