On the campo we found another of the handful of statues commemorating humans in Venice - a well-detailed, green-tinged one of Daniele Manin, hero of the resistance against Austrian occupation in 1848.
The bridge and its campo is scenic and one of the spots that simply begs you to sit down for half-an-hour in the shade by the side of the canal and savour the atmosphere while munching on bread and cheese. So for twenty-odd minutes I dropped my camera bag, Adeline put away her map and we sat down on the mooring steps of the canal to take a lunch break.
While relaxing beside the quiet water of the canal we did a brief recap of the Challenge thus far. It's been a whirlwind day, crossing one bridge after another, taking in as much as possible, plotting a route and moving on to the next. The bridges are much more varied in character than I expected, not particularly in their design but in the subtle details of their construction and ornamentation, and most of all, in their surroundings. Venice is far from a monotonous affair as claimed by some visitors. Its landscapes transform from campo to campo, each with its own architectural variations and authentic little tweaks. I think back on the looks we got from friends back home who'd been to Venice and couldn't understand the value of staying more than two days in the city. One can stay here twenty days, no, two hundred days, and still there'd be more to discover.
At the same time, it's not a city for someone who's not that much into an omni-present look of elegant decay and doesn't care too much for art history and tales about the past. Furthermore, there are the logistical nightmares of narrow alleys, myriads of steep bridges and streets that out of the blue end in canals, but despite these frustrations, Venice remains one of the world's most-visited tourist destinations.
The more I see of Venice, the more aware I become of how the past is in a sense struggling to survive in a city that is being forced to adapt to the outside world. In some areas we passed through it felt as if Venice was on life support as the infrastructure was kept together with little more than a few band-aids, but in others I felt an energetic renewal of the ancient and a synergy of heritage and modernity.
So far it looked like we were on schedule to finish in fourteen hours, which was still a long, long way from now. We both felt a bit tired - we'd climbed several hundred steps up and down bridges so far - but the sandwich followed by an orange and a good, long drink of water quickly brought our energy levels back up, and we were ready to go.