Bridge Twenty-Five - Ponte dei Ferai



Ponte dei Ferai was our next bridge. It was much the same design as the others we recently crossed but had sturdy round stone pillars to which the metal railings were fixed. The bridge, which is dated 1876, is named for nearby shops which in days of old made lighting for the city - 'ferai' meaning lights. Before that it was called the Bridge of the Armenians, being close to a church of theirs that stood nearby.

The past few bridges all share a similar look, probably because they'd all been rebuilt during the 1800's, and this is the style that was in fashion then. Most had existed long before that as stone bridges, some dating back to the 1300s.

Bridge Twenty-Four - Ponte dei Dai, and the "Flower Bridge"

To be honest, the next bridge on our list we had to cross, the Ponte dei Dai, was a bridge that's almost identical to the one we'd crossed a moment ago, axcept for an interesting walkway leading up to it.



At this point we veered a little from our pre-programmed route.


We spent more time at an interesting-looking bridge right next to the Ponte dei Dai that wasn't on the schedule: An unusually narrow, flat wood and metal bridge that lead straight into a pretty embroidery shop. It's obvious this was the shop's own bridge and not an 'official' one due to its unusual design and the fact that there was a lamp post erected on it, as well as the bright red flowers in the plant holders attached to the railings. We couldn't find a name for this attractive-looking bridge, so we just called it 'The Red Flower Bridge'.




Bridge Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three - Ponte Tron o Piovola and Ponte Cavaletto

Now it's a brisk walk through the crowded Calle Larga de l'Ascension, past the high-end fashion shops to the busy Ponte Tron o Piovola. This stone bridge was named after the aristocratic Tron family who lived in the area before the Orseolo Basin, an open stretch of water that functions as a sort of parking lot for gondolas, was developed in the mid-1800s.



After weaving through the tourists crossing the Ponte Tron we swung back onto the Ponte del Cavalletto, a stone bridge with iron railings just outside Piazza San Marco.




From the top of the Cavalletto bridge we had a nice view of the Orseolo Basin, and for a while we stood and watched the gondoliers lounging on their boats or going about their daily tasks. 


Gondoliering is traditionally a men's club - it was only recently that the first female gondolier joined the exclusively male club. We crossed one hundred bridges by the end of the day but she was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it was her day off.

Bridge Twenty-One - Ponte de l'Accademia dei Pittori

We twist through a few alleys and around a corner or two and onto the cavernous  Piazza San Marco, filled as usual with visitors from all corners of the planet pointing cameras, feeding the pigeons, browsing the souvenir stands and sitting in the gradually warming sunshine having something to eat and drink in what really is one of the most beautiful city squares in the world. Us on the other hand passed through quite quickly, only stopping to listen briefly to a quintet outside the famous eatery Florian playing a jazzy tune. It would have been nice to take time to join the queues of visitors waiting to go to the top of the Campanile or wander around inside St Mark's Basilica, but that would have to wait - we've got eighty bridges left to cross before the end of the day!


We exited the square and make our way to the next bridge, the Ponte de l'Accademia dei Pittori located just behind the busy San Marco vaporetto stop. On the way we passed the legendary Harry's Bar with its thirty Euro cocktails; countless sidewalk souvenir stands claiming to sell authentic Venetian masks for seven Euro a piece; and stands selling sepia photographs and pretty little portraits  all depicting the same dozen standard scenic views that have made Venice famous. To call Venice tourism mostly cliche is not an overstatement. While the majority of Venice's streets and alleys are authentic, the twenty percent of Venice where eighty percent of the tourists remain during their visit (which includes the area we're in right now) is a sordid marketplace for the seedy and mundane. Sometimes it feels like the city is desperately, desperately clinging to that last straw that makes its existence worthwhile - the gullible tourist.



Nevertheless, there we were on top of the Ponte d'Accademia's narrow stone landing, shielding our eyes from the sun while peering out over the lagoon to where the island of Guidecca's waterfront rowof palaces and churches drew a thin line across the horizon.  The Ponte d'Accademia's name refers to an artist school that was once nearby, which was apparently attended by quite a number of Venetian artists who became famous in their lifetimes.