One of the five bridges of Ponte dei Tre Ponti, the spaghetti bridge we crossed earlier, leads to a gateway bridge in Venice - the Ponte del Prefetto o Papadopoli.
Before the Ponte della Costituzione was opened a few years ago, this had been the bridge that most people arriving by car and bus crossed into the city. The bridge is a short walk from Piazzale Roma, the square where public buses drop off and collect their passengers before returning to the mainland via the connecting bridge, the long, straight Ponte della Libertà. The atmosphere on the bridge is abuzz from early morning to late at night with the clunking sound of wheeled luggage being dragged up and down its steps by arriving and departing visitors. If there's one bane in the life of most tourists staying over in Venice then it's the number of bridges they have to carry their luggage across to reach their places of accommodation. With so many tourists arriving you'd have thought more bridges would be adapted for luggage on wheels. But then Venice has always dragged its heels when adapting to modern quirks, which, perhaps, is a good thing.
Structurally the Ponte del Prefetto o Papadopoli is a fairly classic but slightly flattened Istrian stone bridge that has a proud Venetian lion relief displayed on its centre keystone, and two similar lions on either side toward the base of the bridge. While few people crossing the bridge probably notice them, the lions, as official mascots of the city, seem to be both guardians of the the island as well as welcoming arriving guests.
Squashed in-between the stately Ponte del Prefetto o Papadopoli and the sweeping arch of the Ponte de la Costituzione lies the Ponte Santa Chiara o del Monastero, a fading green steel bridge now dwarfed by the arrival of its new neighbouring bridge. Two sturdy, square white pillars with stone orbs on top stand like guardians at each entrance to the bridge and add much character to what is otherwise quite an ordinary one, as bridges go.