Bridge Seven - Ponte de Ruga Giuffa

It was only a short walk to bridge number seven - Ponte de Ruga Giuffa. There seems to be confusion over the name of the bridge, which isn’t really surprising given the murky depths of Venetian history. Some references say it refers to Armenian refugees of that name who lived in the area, another that it may refer to a distortion of the Italian word for 'villain'. That's Venice for you, lots of legend, lots of myth.

The one end of the Giuffa bridge leads onto the Campo Santa Maria Formosa, a large square that gives one, like all the many other campos in Venice, a glimpse of daily life in Venice. At this stage it was still relatively early in the day, and the morning rituals of Venice were still under way. Looking at the bridge we witnessed a fairly common occurrence in Venice - the pulling of a wheeled cart across the bridge. Goods transport in Venice involves hauling delivery carts generally the size of ping pong tables or smaller through the alleys, squares and over bridges to collect and deliver everything from foodstuffs to building material and medicines, stationery... in fact everything you can think of is delivered this way, boat to door, as it were. I wondered how many bridges the average delivery guy crosses every day and whether it ever made them feel a bit despondent, this never-ending slog, but the one we spotted pushing his cart across the bridge with the help of two colleagues seems quite unfazed.

The Ponte de Ruga Giuffa is one of four bridges lined up within a few meters of each other across the same canal bordering the campo. They're all different in style; next to the stone Giuffa bridge is a pretty bridge, also built in stone, leading to the rather grand Palazzo Malipiero hotel, while the bridge to the art museum Querini Stampalia Foundation is a surprisingly utilitarian, no-nonsense bridge, the kind of bridge of which there are very, very few in Venice.

Tourists come here to see what's inside the Santa Maria Formosa church - a more than average-sized collection of paintings by Venetian masters. But many outside of the must-see guided groups also sit down on one of the red wooden benches next to the Giuffa bridge for a few minutes to do a bit of people watching. You may see someone collecting water from the well, a group of harmonium players taking a rest on the bench next to yours, or in the late afternoon, a few local kids kicking a soccer ball around. Squares like these are the hubs for daily life in Venice, and taking in daily life at leisure here adds just a little salt and pepper to the well-trodden sight-by-sight visits most tourists here spend most of their time visiting.

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