Bridge Seventy - Ponte Dei Frari

It was now a long, but scenic walk through a rather popular area in central Venice leading up to our next bridge. Near the famous Scuola Grande de San Rocco building we caught up with a young man walking - like us,  at a brisk pace - but wearing a strange robot-like contraption on his back.

It took me a minute or so to recognise the guy.  It was the logo on his cap that confirmed my suspicions - he was busy taking photos of Venice for Google Street View! The photos these robot-walkers take supplement Google’s online street maps, often in the form of 360 degree panorama views. We were surprised to see him using a paper map to guide himself around Venice, and not a GPS device, smartphone or tablet. It didn't quite make sense for such a high-tech project to be making use of such an old school way of staying on-course.

We paused for a moment on the Campo San Rocco flanked by the Scuola Grande de San Rocco on one side and the twin-like Chiesa San Rocco ('chiesa' meaning 'church' in English) on the other. Every time today when we passed one of these beautiful facades that promised an even more impressive inside, I made a mental note of returning to browse the museums and galleries they housed. But I also started realising that in order to do so would require weeks, if not months. Is it time to start planning an extended stay in Venice?

The Ponte dei Frari - Bridge of the Friars - leading onto the Campo dei Frari is a rather modest bridge for the illustrious buildings in the area it provides access to.  That’s perhaps because the Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, commonly referred to as the 'Frari church' on the opposite side of the square, has a rather simple façade hiding the treasure trove of history on the inside that makes it one of the most important churches in Venice. It’s an ongoing refrain in Venice - where you see a white-stoned, much-decorated façade on a building, rest assured there was a monied family or two involved in its founding and construction. But when you see a simple red-brick construction such as the Frari church, it's most likely that it was built on a shoestring by a handful of austere monks, which is indeed the case here. A group of Franciscan monks arrived in Venice not long after the death of Saint Francis around 1250 and started construction on what turned out, two hundred years later, to be the church we see now.

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