Archive for the ‘Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute’ Tag

Venice – Dorsoduro and final wanderings   14 comments


On our last day we made a plan to head for one of the districts we hadn’t been to, the Dorsoduro on the SW side of the city.


The plan was to walk a different way to Piazza San Marco, take a boat along the Grand Canal to the Station and then wander into Dorsoduro from there and grab some lunch


We found some new streets, churches and canals



And some old favourites like the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo



We tried hard, really hard to come out on the waterfront down from Piazza San Marco. Despite best efforts (and some new and lovely vistas) we failed




We turned a corner crossed a bridge and there was the Bridge of Sighs and we entered the Piazza from the direction we always did


Our old friends the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore


And the Palazzo Ducale and Campanile Bell Tower



The boat ride along the Grand Canal (in the previous post) was great but too crowded so we hopped off at the Rialto and walked from there. The first few hundred yards were rammed with people as its on the main drag to the station. As always one turn away from that street and we were in uncrowded piazzas and pretty streets




The walking was as wonderful as ever



We came out on the Fondamenta Rezzonico and the Campo San Barnaba. It was wonderful. Quiet but with an air of a more “real” neighbourhood. When I was looking for an apartment I found one overlooking this canal. The area is a bit less handy for getting about and the apartment didn’t have a balcony but I could happily have stayed here


Time for another excellent pasta lunch (I think it was the Dallo Zio). I decided to try the local drink an Aperol Spritz (Prosecco, Campari and sparkling water – very nice)


The restaurant is on the Campo Santo Margherita, busy with students in term time but wonderfully quiet in summer


A view back towards the Campo San Barnaba and its church


The area narrows to a point between the Grand Canal and the southern waterfront the Fondamente Zaterre. It’s a fabulous stroll. A broad walkway facing across the water to the island of Guidecca, backed by villas, restaurants and churches. It was my favourite walk in Venice


Lots of side canals leading back into the heart of Dorsoduro


Fine views across the lagoon to Guidecca and the Chiesa del Santissimo Redentore



As the headland narrows you can glimpse the Grand Canal on the other side



The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute sits at the end. On our way through we passed a group of buskers. I say buskers but they were playing classical string music and they were note perfect, just superb. We sat for for a few minutes on the steps listening to them play. It was wonderful


There was a gallery with a display of David Hockney sculptures right on the tip of the promontory. This sculpture was outside but I’m not sure if its one of his. It was rather good if a little weird



We needed a rest and sat down on the banks of the canal and paddled our feet in the water. When I first visited Venice as a teenager one of the abiding memories was the smell and rather unhealthy look of the water (and the pigeons that were everywhere). There is no way I would have put my feet in the water. They must have made some strenuous efforts because even in the height of summer there was no smell and the water looked clean and healthy barring an inevitable few items of rubbish. It felt totally natural to have a paddle. We sat here for a few minutes enjoying the shade and the cool water while looking across the canal to the Piazza San Marco. The hour we spent walking along the water front, listening to music and sitting by the water were one of my favourite memories not only of Venice but of the whole holiday




It was a pretty damn fine day, finished off with another evening stroll around San Marco and out to the Pont dell’Accademia and Rialto Bridges for a last long lingering look at this amazing city








One last meal on the terrace and the next morning we had to pack and head of for our next city. We had a few hours to kill the next morning before our train. We chilled out in a shady square before heading to the station


A couple of photos from the Ponte degli Scalzi outside the station


The train station itself


And a last lingering look at the Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo from the station steps before we bid our farewell


I changed my mind about which was my favourite city all throughout the trip and again now I’m writing up the blog posts. In revisiting Venice and especially this last post I’m starting to think again that there is just something extra special here. No doubt I’ll change my opinion again but for now at least its back at the top of the charts


Venice – The Grand Canal   22 comments

The main water artery through the city and we hadn’t seen it other than a brief view from the Rialto and Accademia bridges and outside the train station in the rain. After our beach day we headed back out for an evening meal via Piazza San Marco and a Vaporetto ride along the Grand Canal. The museum of the Punta della Dogana that marks the start of the Grand Canal.


Setting sun over the houses and palazzos


And the now familiar Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


Seen here from under the Ponte dell’Accademia


An interesting sculpture called – actually I have no idea! There were lots of sculptures lining the canal



It was late in the evening and the light was a little dim for decent photography. Some nice sunset skies though


One of the many palazzos along the canal


And the classic view of the Rialto bridge


Day fades into night



We hopped off just beyond the Rialto as it was getting pretty dark. I liked these hands!


Last lingering sunset shots before we headed off for another fine Italian meal. They do pasta really well in Italy (unsurprisingly!) I learned that the pasta should be the star and not the sauce necessarily. Every pasta meal just had enough sauce to coat the pasta rather piled on. Every pasta was cooked to perfection and delicious. I think the meal tonight was at the Al Vecio Bragosso Osteria but I can’t be sure



After the meal we took in our nightly gluttony of gelato from Grom and ate it by the hands


Next morning I got a bit lost on my breakfast stroll and ended up surprisingly on the Rialto.



As I admired the peaceful early morning view a Vaporetto pulled up and I instinctively jumped on


The Grand Canal was even better in the morning. Crystal clear blue skies and an empty boat. Just perfect



The Grand Canal was prime water front property in the glory days of the city. The finest merchants and members of society would all have their houses fronting the canal. Only way to see it is by boat as there is no water front walkway


Every house seems uniquely designed and built, no two the same. It’s a visual treat and its hard to know where to look. My one regret is that I didn’t find time to take a trip along and back the full length from San Marco to the station with a map and audio guide.


It’s a mesmerizing trip and well worth seeing at first light before the boats get too crowded. In fact when I return I plan to head up and down at various times of day to really get to grips with it


Ponte dell’Accademia



Sun coming up over the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


Ponte dell’Accademia


And more shots of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. It looked particularly gleaming in the morning sun



After breakfast we headed out for another city walk and decided to get there with another boat ride along the canal. The boat was much busier, so busy in fact we didn’t stay on as long as we wanted. The canal was much busier though with loads of taxi boats and delivery barges. Fascinating to watch the city at work on water


Gondolas earning their 80 Euros!


Views looking back left and right to San Marco and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



And back under the Ponte dell’Accademia




It was an especially clear and sunny morning and the Palazzos were sunning themselves to great effect




Turning the corner the Rialto comes into view


A little video that sets the scene a little better than photos


I should have taken more video. Most of my other small cameras have always taken pretty poor video so I don’t take much. My new camera takes excellent video so it was a bit of shame I didn’t use it more.

And a final shot just before the crowds forced us to return to foot transport


Just one more post from Venice before me move on to cities new


Venice – Murano and around the Lagoon   12 comments


Onwards from Burano and on to Murano


Venice is famous for its blown glass and there are shops everywhere. Some of it fabulous some of it terrible some of it plain weird. Murano is where the vast majority of the glass is made.


We managed to find a demonstration but after peering through the door for a couple of minutes we were told we had to pay. I thought that was a bit cheeky. Most similar places let you watch or tour for free and hope to make their money from sales. Considering the fee and the fact that obviously making glass needs a furnace we decided to stay outside in the natural furnace


Murano is very pleasant and quiet place to wander about. The main street/canal was catching the sun very fetchingly. The number of glass shops was astounding, 75% was my estimate. Very useful if you wanted to buy glass but we wanted a Gelato!



In searching for a Gelato seller (first time and only time it took longer than a couple minutes to find one in Italy) we cam e across this very vivid glass sculpture the Cometa di Vetro



Eventually we procured our Gelato and sat by the canal to scoff it



Whilst Murano is very nice, it doesn’t have the grandeur of the main island or the colourful charm of Burano so we decided another boat trip was in order.


We’d done a fair bit of walking over the first week of the trip so a bit more leisure was well earned


We decided to taker a longer ride around the outside of the main island to get a different feel for the city


Boat travel was really enjoyable as most are small so you feel in touch with the water as it were. The boats stop very regularly and its a slow ride so plenty of time to take in the views


A short video here to give a feel for things



As there is a causeway linking Venice to the mainland, the outside circular service have to head inside for a short while. This is one of the larger canals with what looks like a fine walkway that we never found time to wander along


Non motorised transport


And along the far reaches of the Grand Canal past the railway station


The Chiesa di San Simeone Piccolo, a prominant site with its copper green roof and the first building that catches the eye on the way into Venice from the railway station or the car parks


The Ponte della Costituzione, one of only four bridges over the Grand Canal. Known locally as the Calatrava bridge (after the architect who designed it) it was the first new bridge in Venice for over 120 years. It links the city to the car parks and cruise ship terminals


We got a close up look at a couple of the cruise ships and an enormous private yacht


The boat carried on around the southern side of the city between the Dorsoduro district and the island of Guidecca


The Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario


The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and San Marco Bell Tower


Close ups of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



And the San Marco Bell Tower



The only problem with the Vaporetto is they are built for transporting people rather than sightseeing. Most of the seating is inside so if you want to enjoy the view you have to stand on deck. No problem with that but as the boats move slowly and stop often, after a while the feet get tired and you need a break. We decided to stop off for a wander and a drink. We took a stroll from San Marco along the Riva Degli Schiavone

The waterfront walks in Venice are some of its finest. This one running east from the Piazza is rather busy at first but as with all things Venice once you wander more than a few minutes from popular sites its quiet. We found a splendid spot for a sit down


The views across the water in the afternoon sun were mighty fine


Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiore


Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. I seem to have taken a lot of photos of this church. It is pretty striking and dominates the view from San Marco and the Grand Canal


As we wandered along the waterfront one of the huge cruise ships sailed past. You can see from this photo just how huge these monsters are. I think they are the reason why the cities on their route (in our case Venice and Rome) were so crowded. I’m not sure how many people they hold but it must be thousands. They disgorge their masses that hit the city like a tidal wave in the morning, swamping the city through to till late afternoon with tour groups. Its the tour groups that were the biggest frustration fir us. If you get caught up in one it’s like you’ve been swallowed by the crowd. I half expected to get caught up in a tidal movement of people and suddenly find myself on a ship heading for Dubrovnik or Split! The locals are not too keen on them as they swamp the city but only stay a few hours spending a good chunk of their subsistence money on board the ship rather than in the city in restaurants and in hotels and the like. Not my sort of thing but they are big business now and do give an opportunity to see places like Venice to those who perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I had no idea how many of these ships were cruising the Med. There were a couple in the city every day we were there


There is a lovely park at the far end of the water front in the Castello district


As we sat enjoying the sunshine another cruise ship sailed past. Pretty impressive to see them so close up



We were actually a along way from the apartment. Nice thing about Venice is you are never too far away from a Vaporetto stop and there will be a boat going somewhere near where you want to go.


This one took us back to the waterfront a few yards from the apartment. Sorted


A fine day on the water and the islands. What better way to finish than with a cracking meal on the waterfront at the Ristorante Pizzeria Da Alvise


We hadn’t quite sussed out the subleties of Italian menus at this stage. We thought that “Primi” were small courses and “Secondi” large courses. Turns out both are big, the former is pasta, the latter meat or fish based.


TJS made the mistake of ordering both. At least they knew what a messy eater he was and dressed him accordingly 🙂


It was a superb meal. Excellent day with loads packed in

Venice – Palazzo Ducale & San Marco Campanile Bell Tower   14 comments

As you saw from previous posts Piazza San Marco has lots to offer and two of it sights deserved their own post.

The Palazzo Ducale. It was the seat of Venice’s government for seven centuries but was gutted by fire in 1577 and restored with white Istrian stone and Veronese pink marble.


It served not only as a form of parliament but also as a prison, executioners block and grand palace of the Doge, the elected head of state.


It was also the home of the feared Council of Ten who preserved Venice’s democracy through their network of informers and spies


In some respects it can seem rather plain from the outside especially compared to the Basilica next door. In many other ways its stunning and understated while retaining an air of grandeur and awe that I imagine kept the mortal folk in awe.


It’s on a tour of the interior that both its dark and shady secrets and its palatial opulence are revealed.


We took a guided “Secret Passages” tour which I’d read was excellent and so it was. The tour not only gave an insight into the dark and mysterious world of the council of ten (their offices, secret doorways, torture rooms and the like) but also a very useful background history of Venice itself. I was fascinated by the details of Venice’s democracy and for the times, it was quite advanced, almost civilised (even it did still favour those with money or power). It would be a history essay in itself to give that background but safe to say its well worth some research and background reading. One of the famous stories is that Casanova was imprisoned here and was reputedly the only man ever to escape the prisons. The tour was fascinating although taking pictures in these dark places was nigh on impossible. Safe to say if you are in Venice I strongly recommend paying the extra to take the tour of this fascinating building


Once we were done with the secret passages tour we were free to rejoin the masses and explore the rest of the palace. The artwork is simply staggering and there are works of art by many a famous artist such as Tintoretto and Titian adorning the walls and especially the ceilings.


It’s very hard to capture this in a photo but hopefully mine give a sense of the grandeur



This room was the court room where the council of ten sat and pronounced judgement and punishment. The last wooden panel on the right is actually a secret door back into the Council of Ten rooms we’d been through earlier


More lavish artwork



As we climbed to the second floor there were windows with views out over the city and the water front



And over the water to the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and the Lido


The most stunning room was the Sala del Maggior Consiglio or Grand Council Hall


It was absolutely enormous and decorated from floor to and on the ceilings with stunning art work


Many of these works of art are considered propaganda paintings depicting prominent Venetians in historical or biblical settings. The painting at the far end in the photo below is Paradise by Tintoretto’s son Domenico depicting 500 Venetian politicians in heaven! Talk about blowing your own celestial trumpet 🙂



As Venice grew so did its criminal population. The palaces cells could no longer cope and new prison was built next door. To reach the prison you cross the famous Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs). When I was young I always thought it was the Bridge of Size, an enormous construction spanning the city. Like most people I was surprised at its true meaning and size (and spelling), so-called, to mark prisoners feelings as they walk to their cells having been convicted. This is photo looking inwards towards the city from one side


And the cramped passageways around the prisons


The prison courtyard


And the view seawards from the bridge. You can see the crowds gathering to take photographs.


It’s a very small, not especially dramatic bridge so I’m not quite sure why it gets so much attention. Still, I’m glad I saw it and walked across it – twice!


It was a full half day in the palace. If you were a real fine art buff it would take a lot longer. We were well pleased with our visit but you can have too many prison cells and paintings especially when its lunchtime so we took our leave of the palace and the Basilica next door (with another secret passage so the Doge could worship in peace) and went home for lunch


Later in the day we went up the Campanile Bell Tower for an aerial view of the city. This was well worth booking in advance as the queue was long and slow-moving. We just went round to a back door, waited a couple of minutes and went up in the lift


The view was grand and everything you’d expect. Expansive squares, red-tiled roofs, water and churches


The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute



The Isle of San Giorgio Maggiore. You can visit the island and climb the church tower but to my regret we never found time. The views of the Piazza San Marco are supposed to be the best in the city


A Panorama shot looking over the island to the lagoon and Lido beyond (larger version if you click on it)


Along the waterfront to the Castello district


West over the Basilica di San Marco to the Canareggio district.


The Basilica and Palazzo Ducale


North west over San Marco to Canareggio. Our apartment is in there somewhere. We walked through those buildings to reach the Piazza. One thing that strikes you up here is just how densely packed the buildings are. It’s almost impossible to make out streets or canals. No surprise how easy it is to get lost


North towards the Sa Polo area and entrance to the city. You can just make out the causeway to the mainland


Family pose


The mechanical clock tower and the Piazza directly below


And one final shot of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


As we reluctantly headed down the sun was lighting up the tower to great effect


A fine finish to a storming first full day in Venice. We packed a lot in and it still seems amazing that it was all about 15 mins walk from our little home


Venice – Piazza San Marco and around   10 comments


Piazza San Marco is the heart of Venice and contains three of its most treasured and well-known sites. The Basilica di San Marco, Palazzo Ducale and the Campanile Bell Tower.

Before I take you down there for a look around a few photos from our neighbourhood in Venice. A sunrise view from the waterfront a hundred yards from the front door


The street where we lived


The view from the balcony


And over the rooftops to the massive Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo on the left


Our first day in Venice was very much a Piazza San Marco day. We spent the morning on a tour of the Palazzo Ducale (on the left here). More on that in the next post


And this is the magnificent Basilica di San Marco. It’s a stunningly ornate and beautiful work and one of Venice’s treasured buildings.


It’s free to visit and we paid a couple of Euros each to skip the line. You aren’t supposed to take photos so we dutifully didn’t although everyone else was. Trust me when I say its astonishing inside. A picture or two from the Interweb to give you a feel

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The amazing golden look is created by using gold leaf on thousands of tiny mosaic tiles behind a layer of fired glass. This creates the shimmering effect. It’s absolutely extraordinary and even though it only takes 10-15 mins to walk around its worth a few Euros to beat the queue or just to wait in it

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In between our visit to the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica we returned home for lunch. We took a circuitous route to take in some typical Venetian streets, canals and squares



It’s the middle part of the day and this image proves that you don’t have to wander far or try to hard in Venice to lose the crowds. Alas I have no idea which lovely square this was



A leisurely lunch on the patio was always welcome and enjoyable


We went back for our Basilica visit and to climb the Campanile Bell Tower which again I’ll cover in a future post



This is still peak time and you can tell that even though there are loads of people the square is big enough to cope without feeling too oppressive (it’s the streets leading to it from the Rialto that are really crowded). The square is surrounded by up-market coffee houses with orchestras playing music. I was tempted to sit down and enjoy a break till I saw how much they wanted for a beer.


We decided to wait for our time slot to climb the tower by the waterfront near the gondolas. No beer or music but it was free


We went back to the square many times such was its draw. Early evening was perfect as the crowds thinned and the sun bathed the buildings in golden light that seemed appropriate somehow


On our first evening visit we arrived a bit late and the Basilica was half in shadow although it still looked inspiring



Again we took in the view from the waterfront. I think this view across to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its church was my favourite in Venice


Closely followed by the view from the same spot to the eye-catching Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


I paid a visit early one morning on a very long walk and boat ride to pick up the breakfast pastries. It was quite startling to see it with no one there


The Torre dell’Orologio with its mechanical men that chime the bell


This photo shows really well just how quiet it was


I enjoyed this shot, standing in the shadow of the bell tower


With the inevitable pigeon in shot


A morning view of the Basilica


And the Palazzo Ducale


We came back on our last night to try to catch the light better. Still not quite early enough to avoid a shadow on the Basilica alas.


But the light was still amazing



The Palazzo Ducale


And a final close up of the church of San Giorgio Maggiore


And the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute


I was expecting to find the Piazza overcrowded and spoilt. But even with the crowds you can really appreciate its splendour and charm and I fell in love with it and its surrounds and water front views (as you can tell from the many visits and photos). Make the effort to come late or early and its even better. Only occurs to me now that we never saw it at night. I shall have to go back then

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