Bridge Two - Ponte dell'Arsenale

This is a serialisation of the bridge-by-bridge story of the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge. It starts off at our apartment in Murano about 5am, when we rose, yawning, showered, dressed, grabbed a quick breakfast, packed our sandwiches, cameras and GPS, and left to catch a vaporetto to Venice.


A short walk away from bridge number one, the Ponte dei Giardini bridge, we passed a thought-provoking work of art: The Monumento alla Partigiana Veneta monument. Commonly referred to as the 'La Partigiana', facing the sea, it is dedicated to the women who fought in the resistance movement against Fascism during the time of the Second World War. It's a statue of a woman lying down with her hands tied and positioned more or less level with the lagoon's low tide mark. Years of the ocean water's ebb and flow over it has tinged the sad figure green by moss and sea algae. During high tide she's submerged and invisible, but right now she's elevated just enough to make it look like she's floating on the lagoon. Is this the world's only statue that is under water half the time?

A walk along the seaboard and then up Fondamenta dell'Arsenale took us to one of the signature wooden bridges in Venice, the Ponte dell'Arsenale. It has a unique and characteristic pointed shape crossing over the fairly broad Rio dell'Arsenale. On one side it faces the impressive pillared entrance to the Arsenale - a well-known image of Venice - complete with its white, maned Piraeus lion and three companions standing guard by the side of the entrance. Two of the sculptures came as booty all the way from Piraeus in Athens, Greece - which at the time was part of the Ottoman Empire - after a successful campaign by Venetian forces in 1687.

The Arsenale area of Venice is pleasant to visit - not too crowded, and more spacious than most of Venice. The Arsenale itself, once one of the world's foremost shipyards that employed thousands of workers known as 'Arsenalotti', is now used for country exhibitions during one of the world's largest art and architecture events, the Venice Biennale. The industrial decay of empty warehouses, disused cranes and other rusty mechanical skeletons that dot the landscape is a suitable backdrop for artistic expression, and even outside Biennale time it's worthwhile exploring for an hour or two.

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