Bridge Thirty-Two - Ponte delle Veste

La Fenise
Venice's famous La Fenise theatre, inaugurated in 1792, is on the way to the next bridge, the Ponte delle Veste. I tried to secure tickets for us months ago but no luck - it was all booked out. And that's not even for a show featuring any well-known artists. While the music would have been good bonus, I wanted to feel what it was to sit in one of those fancy boxes on the side, act like royalty, and look down on the theatre-goers downstairs watching us while trying to figure out what aristocracy we're from. So now all we could do was admire the legendary theatre's classy facade that I thought was surprisingly understated; not too opulent and sumptuous, but just the right mix of straight lines and decoration.
Ponte delle Veste
The Ponte delle Veste is a stone bridge with a smoothly worn iron railings that have familiar cast iron cones as decoration mounted on it. It's named after a men's clothing shop that existed in the area in the olden days. Above it is one of many similar memorials throughout the city, this one commemorating war heroes. It's dedicated to Amerigo Perini, who (loosely translating the wording) 'fell at this spot on 26 November 1944 in the fight against Fascism during the Second World War'. Since it was close to the day of remembrance in Italy, the plaque was decorated with a laurel wreath and a ribbon with the colours of the Italian flag. Venice's time as a Nazi-occupied city is an oft-neglected section in most tourist guides, I believe.

Bridge Thirty-One - Ponte dei Barcaroli o del Cuoridoro

Bridges are a favourite stopping place for Venice's beggars. 


Like all cities the world over Venice has its share of the poor and pitiful using the streets to appeal to the charity of passers-by (especially since many of them are well-heeled tourists). At Ponte dei Barcaroli o del Cuoridoro (Barcaroli is a nearby gondola station, and Couridoro is a kind of antigue leather-based wall decoration) a Gypsy-looking lady was sitting at the base of the bridge with a small ice cream cup she used as a collection box by her side, and we observed her from a distance for a while. She didn't look particularly down and out or poverty-stricken to my South African eyes and her fund-raising efforts were quite low-key, to put it mildly. While she wasn't dressed straight out of a fashion shop, what she wore in fact spoke of a certain elegance. Television's What to Wear show where they help people with impaired dress sense couldn't lay a finger on her. So I decided that she was mainly here to warm herself in the early spring sunlight and make a few Euros on the side. She was fully part of Venice's colourful palette of life.



Bridge Thirty - Ponte dei Fuseri

Ponte dei Fuseri - the name may have been derived from the Latin word 'Fusor' meaning smelter - connects on one side to the narrow Calle dei Fuseri, runs at an angle across the canal, and then connects to the rather broad Ramo dei Fuseri. 


Ponte dei Fuseri


While the Italian word 'Calle' means alley or street, the word Ramo, according to one source, is 'a small branch, one subdivision of a calle'.  I've noticed before that a Ramo is often a dead-end alley (which it wasn't in this case) but here it was difficult to distinguish between the two. Venice has quite an extensive vocabulary with which it names its confusing warren of alleys and walkways, narrow and wide, squares big and small and canals broad and tiny, and the exact definition of each remains typically Venice - vague and fluid.



We get lost. Sort of.

After retracing our steps to get onto our planned route, we had quite a task getting to the next bridge. It was a zig-zag route that was difficult at times as the GPS program on Adeline's iPad lost its signal in the narrow alleys, our position jumping around wildly on the map on the screen, similar to a analogue compass when brought near a magnet.

Looking around for landmarks we saw a tall, slightly skew tower with a small crowd of tourists gawking up at it.

Bovolo

It was the Bovolo tower, or as it is called by its proper name, the Scala Contarini del Bovolo. It’s an impressive, audacious structure incorporating Gothic, Byzantine and Romanesque elements into the sort of architecture one associates with eccentric home owners with a sense for the extraordinary. And out of the ordinary it is - tour guides point out it was designed so that a horse could walk all the way to the top using a circular ramp. Venice is filled with these ’believe it or not’ facts.

After the Bovolo tower the navigation got somewhat easier and we reached our next bridge, the Ponte dei Fuseri, after a few minutes and one or two brief unintended detours. Navigating in Venice will always be any rally driver's nightmare.