Bridge Nine - Ponte dei Conzafelzi

Standing on top of the Ponte Minich we could see our next bridge some distance away down the Rio Santa Marina. It’s the Ponte dei Conzafelzi, our first all-iron bridge of the day. The bridge name has an interesting origin: in the olden days, when gondolas were the standard means of travel in Venice and not simply a tourist pastime, people working in the buildings in the vicinity of the bridge manufactured and repaired 'felzi' - the cabins that adorned gondolas.

The Conzafelzi bridge has interesting iron castings in its railings that share a common Venetian artistic theme but at the same time are rather special in design. One piece features the familiar head of a lion, and another a flowery, almost mandala-like pattern. The wording 'Fonderia Collalto' is embossed on the side of the railing, which is the name of the foundry where the bridge was cast.

Quite clearly the day of the Bridge Challenge was rubbish collection day in Venice. En-route between the bridges it was clear that Venice was struggling with a waste overload, or rather bad management thereof. Venetians were dumping COOP plastic bags filled with household waste quite randomly in public areas, as the pile we encountered by the foot of the Conzafelzi bridge showed. For the next two or three days we still noticed uncollected rubbish, but then a cursory overview of the history of Venice shows that for most of the past thousand years the city's waste management has been a problem. There are simply too few boats to carry the city's waste away fast enough, or the available boats are too small.

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