Bridge One Hundred - Ponte de Gheto Novo - We've made it!

We rounded a corner leading out of the square and there it was - bridge number one hundred, the Ponte de Gheto Novo! For a moment we stood still at the foot of its wide cast iron arch, and as if on cue a bunch of boisterous teenagers came rushing across the bridge looking like they were sent to welcome us home, their footsteps clattering loudly on the metal steps. We started slowly up the steps, savouring the moment and pausing at the bridge's crest to look out over the canal where the lights illuminating the Fondamenta dei Ormesini alongside it shimmered in the water.

It was a fine moment. Footsore, suffering from mild sunburn and hungry we felt slightly lost, the way a long-distance athlete feels after completing a marathon. And a marathon it was - we'd climbed more than two thousand steps to get to this point. Yet the satisfaction gained from completing the day successfully made it all worthwhile.

We'd done something no one has previously done consciously - walked across and photographed one hundred bridges in Venice in a day. It was a personal challenge for me, to accomplish something a bit extraordinary like this. It wasn't a race and I won't get into the Guinness Book of Records, but I still felt proud, both of myself and Adeline. As a couple we'd made history for ourselves as well.

From the last bridge we crossed, it was a slow walk along the canal and through a neighbourhood fast asleep to the deserted S. Alvise vaporetto stop. Along the way, we shared the last few drops in Adeline's water bottle and found half a chocolate bar in her backpack to help give us a final burst of energy to get home. At the vaporetto station, waiting for the boat to arrive we could see the faint lights of Murano in the distance across the water winking at us, calling us to bed. We'd reached our goal, the job was done. We'd conquered one hundred bridges in Venice.

If you'd like to read the full story of the Challenge, you can find the e-book with details of all one hundred bridges on Amazon Kindle Store.

Bridge Ninety-Nine - Ponte de Gheto Novissimo

Our final goal in the Challenge was the Jewish Ghetto, an area where Jewish people were traditionally separated from the rest of Venice, since 1516. Venice was the first state in history to do this (it also did so with other nationalities, not only Jews). This area was closed off during the night in that time, and the two bridges that are our final destination were closed off and guarded. But fortunately, tonight, both would be open allowing everyone to move freely across them.

The first of the two bridges caused us some confusion. According to our information the one we faced was named 'Ponte de Gheto Novissimo', yet the sign above the wood and stone bridge with its neat wooden railings read 'Ponte de Gheto Novo', which in fact would be the final bridge.

Whatever, we weren't going to split hairs at this time of night, after encountering ninety-eight other bridges. So we walked across into the Campo de Gheto Novo which forms the heart of the Jewish Ghetto. It was brightly lit, quiet and peaceful. The few people we saw around included two rowdy friends exiting a restaurant that was closing, and two Hassidic gentlemen quietly chatting together in a doorway. Other than that we were the only two people around.

Bridge Ninety-Eight - Ponte de l'Anconeta

While walking alongside the still waters of the Rio della Maddalena we passed a well-lit restaurant filled with socialising patrons. The atmosphere, which moments before had been quiet and solemn, changed instantly to gay and exuberant. The sounds of laughter, patrons chattering, and the clinking of glasses and plates floated across the canal which was lit with reflections from sidewalk lights. It was a pretty scene, and for a moment we speculated about sitting down for a quick snack. But tiredness was taking its toll on both of us, and so we moved along to the Ponte de l'Anconeta, our third last bridge.

We'd hardly left the bright, convivial restaurant scene when once again we were enveloped in a dark ghostliness with hardly a soul around. It might have been the cold, or perhaps the ghost of a long-forgotten Venetian soul still restlessly wandering the city, but we walked on in a hurry, the end now plainly in sight.

Bridge Ninety-Seven - Ponte Correr

For many visitors, the evenings are the best time to be in Venice. The cacophony of daytime makes way for a gentle quietness with only the most delicate sounds audible - a far-off vaporetto, the lapping of water on a canal side, or footsteps in a nearby alley.

This was the atmosphere when we crossed the small Ponte Correr, a bridge that carries the name of one of the most illustrious families in Venice, after which the museum bordering one side of the Piazza San Marco is also named. The quietness all around was tangible, and the bridge's white steps were bathed in an eerie light that strongly contrasted against the dark water of the canal. The change in ambience between day and night we had witnessed was truly remarkable.

Bridge Ninety-Six - Ponte Pasqualigo

Retracing our steps, we once again joined the main route to the Santa Lucia station at the Ponte Pasqualigo, bridge number ninety-six.

Ponte Pasqualigio

It's a stone bridge with broad steps, named after the last naval commander of the independent republic of Venice before it was conquered by Napoleon and subsequently ruled by Austria. It usually carries a dense stream of people, but at this hour it was relatively quiet with only a few passers-by moving along hurriedly - most probably the last of the day's commuters going home by train. It was now almost half-past eight in the evening, and most of the street lights were on and shop windows lit, even though the sky was still a powdery blue.

I had to start doing tricks with the camera to compensate for the almost total darkness, stretching exposure times and pushing the camera's settings to their limits. We'd better finish soon, or I'll be stuck with pitch-black photos!