Bridge Four - Ponte del Vin

At seven in the morning you can count the number of tourists on the streets of Venice on the fingers of one hand. And why should a person on holiday surface at that ungodly hour anyway? The only persons on the streets are those that participate in around-dawn rituals found in communities all over the world - vendors setting up their stands, rubbish removers pushing carts about, and restaurant workers sweeping the pavement in front of their eateries, opening up for the first guests who'll shortly be staking their places at sidewalk tables.

This was the scene we encountered at bridge number four, Ponte del Vin, so named because boats carrying wine used to anchor near the bridge. It's a stone bridge with an ornate balustrade that has a stunning view of St Mark's basin and life on the lagoon that Venice has such a special relationship with. During daytime the bridge is overwhelmed with tourists - it's a stone's throw from the Piazza San Marco, the staple must-see on the itinerary of all visitors to Venice. Plan your visit to this area for late afternoon or early morning unless you want to have to elbow your way into a decent viewing spot at the top of the bridge.

Right next door to the Ponte del Vin is one of the most famous hotels in Venice - the Danieli. Remember the thriller movie The Tourist? The Danieli makes a star appearance in that film. We poked our heads through the doorway to look at the truly magnificent interior of the hotel, and promised ourselves to visit for a night cap here soon. No time right now - too many bridges to climb!

I have an off-hand interest in the history of aristocracies that ended in bad luck, so the nearby statue of King Victor Emmanuel II on the Riva degli Schiavoni deserved some attention. The artwork on the sides and smaller statues around the one of the king on his horse are an interesting exercise in testing one's history, mythology and symbolism knowledge with the result that we spent much more time at this bridge than was allocated.

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