360° OVER 144 ISLANDS
Venice, one of the most beautiful and incredible cities in the world, but also one of the most unique, a city built on 144 islands in the centre of the Venetian lagoon, offers us, together with its nearly 300 canals and more than 400 bridges, in an unforgettable and unmissable print. And how can I make this spectacular image in my mind or on my camera? Well, there are two ways, one is to go up the Campanile and see from its almost 99 meters high the Giudecca Canal and San Marcos Square and the other is the one we propose here, but this time to admire one of the most important transport routes of the city, the Grand Canal.
This 360º panoramic terrace is located in a new shopping centre called FONDACO DEI TEDESCHI. The building was built in 1228. The Fondaco dei Tedeschi was the headquarters and warehouse of a family of German merchants (Tedeschi). After being burned twice, in 1506, it was rebuilt in its current state. It was a customs house during Napoleon Bonaparte´s occupation. In 1930, it underwent several adaptations and improvements until finally, in 2009, the Benetton family decided to transform its almost 700 m² into a Luxurious Shopping.
The building has five floors and several windows overlooking the Grand Canal. In the centre of the enclosure, there is a large patio covered by a glass roof.
The shopping centre and its now-famous panoramic terrace are located next to the Rialto Bridge, so following directions from St. Mark´s Square to the bridge, it takes just 10 minutes to reach.
This 360º terrace is one of the most visited viewpoints today and also has the particularity of being free!! We recommend booking online as they are sometimes closed for events, and above all, they control the capacity.
Reservations can be made at the following link: https://www.dfs.com/en/venice/t-fondaco-rooftop-terrace
Address: Rialto Bridge, Calle del Fontego dei Tedeschi, 30100 Venezia VE, Italy
A VERY VENEZIAN FAST FOOD
This time, we will recommend a trendy and typical Venetian snack, the famous: Tramezzini. But what is this snack? Well, it´s a sandwich made with peeled white bread and stuffed with cheese, cold cuts, vegetables and other ingredients like tuna, egg, crab sticks, etc.
Its origins are in Turin, around 1925, where an Italian couple who returned from America decided to buy a coffee; That´s when Caffè Mulassano came up and the idea of adapting the American sandwich to its Italian version.
Unlike these and other sandwiches in Italy, in Venice, Tramezzino is "pregnant". They have a prominent belly that seems to want to explode because it contains a generous and very colourful filling.
The Tramezzino is one of the descendants of the sandwich born in the 18th century, the fourth earl of the English county of sandwich, from which it takes its name.
The name "Tramezzino" comes from the poet Gabriele D´Annunzio who, during the fascist period, called them "intramezzo", which we can translate as something in between. And that it is a portion of delicious food to consume between one meal and another, a real hunger break.
But it´s in Venice, where Tramezzino flourishes, there it started to become popular within the most glamorous bars in the city, occupying an important place when it comes to appetizers and snacks, becoming a fundamental institution and being considered one of the products most characteristic and representative of northeastern Italy.
The bread is very soft, the ideal is milk, has no crust and is abundantly filled in the middle, so it has a rounded shape, in addition to being exceptionally moist, not only because of the generous use of mayonnaise but also because of the city´s climate, which makes it particularly bland.
The most common and classic fillings are ham and mushrooms, ham and artichoke, ham and cheese, mozzarella and tomato, tuna and boiled egg, arugula and shrimp or crab, chicken and lettuce, all with the addition of a lot of mayonnaise. But the variations are endless, and over the years, the fillings have expanded, from typical dishes of the Venetian tradition, such as cod or sardines, to the most modern salmon and avocado. Venetians tend to eat for breakfast and the "rolled" and wholemeal bread versions are also appreciated.
So now you know, for that aperitif or lunch, don´t miss out on this snack you´ll find in any bar in town. A suggestion if you are an observer, look carefully if the bar is full of gondoliers at the time of aperitif or snack. It means there are good Tramezzini there!!!!
LIFE BEHIND A MASK
One of the typical and characteristic handicrafts of the city of Venice is, without a doubt, its masks. Everyone wants to take a souvenir, whether in the form of a fridge magnet, a pendant, or to decorate a particular corner of our house. Remember that the more expensive the mask, the more handcrafted it is.
Currently, in the globalized world in which we live, the vast majority of these souvenirs are made in China, so it is worth noting that they are much cheaper than in stores in some street stalls or markets.
Today we can find them made of many materials such as ceramics, glass, papier-mache, fabric, lace, inlaid with stones, whether plastic or glass, with feathers and even with appliqués of gold or silver.
But why are Venetian masks so famous? The first thing we need to know is that the meaning of the word mask is "Person" in Latin. In one piece, this word has been extended to refer to the characters in it, which means that the central meaning of the mask is to hide the wearer´s true identity and represent a different one, be it an animal, a plant, a god, etc.
But the Romans, influenced by Greek culture, incorporated the mask in the parties in honour of Saturn, known as Saturnais, parties in which, in the end, they ate and danced after making the respective sacrifice to the god Saturn.
Everything here was worth it, including the slaves who represented their owners.
These festivals are the origin of famous carnivals. But there was a Pope, Paul II, who was tired of these festivities continuing to degenerate it because remember, it was all worth it here... he let them continue to be feted, but giving it a more metaphorical and artistic sense, the which took us to the famous masked ball that has been held since the 14th century, the current Venetian carnival.
But not only did masks start to be used in the carnival. Thus, we can see that the use of masks existed for other daily activities, among which we can highlight assistance to the bathroom, if you read that correctly, to go to the bathroom. For people to have a little privacy, they put on a mask, as services in Renaissance palaces, for example, were in common areas where people passed, so you would have to cover your face when you went to the bathroom to have one. Little privacy, please.
Another daily use would be for nurses or doctors at the time, especially during the Black Death. The people who took care of the sick wore a wide-beaked white mask. They introduced all kinds of aromatic herbs and thus helped them overcome their hard work. We can say that they are the antecedents of the famous surgical masks, very fashionable from 2020 onwards.
It is also worth mentioning two very famous masks, the Moretta, in black and velvet for women, and the Bauta, white with a small nose for men whose mouths distorted the sound, especially when the gentleman wanted to take libertine walks or participate in clandestine games, thus ensuring their anonymity.
So cheer up and take one of these famous and popular souvenirs...
A PHOTO OF PARADISE.
We will propose a photo of the entrance to one of the most essential and beautiful industrial complexes in the old city of Venice, and we are referring to the Naval Arsenal of Venice.
It is located in the city´s eastern part, in the Castello (sestieri) district (one of the six districts Venice is divided).
During the 16th century, this large industrial complex had its most glorious moment, occupying 450,000 m², being approximately 15% of the surface of Venice and employing almost 16,000 men.
Its origins were Byzantine in the 8th century, but in the 12th century, it began to be built as we know it today. Interestingly, the arsenal was already mentioned in the 13th century by Dante Alighieri in his famous work The Divine Comedy.
Its original function was to house private ships. Still, in 1320 it underwent a considerable expansion that favoured, among other things, the production chain of state ships and large merchant ships and was for a long time the only place where it was used. This production system, since, in the rest of Europe, the construction of a ship could take several months to produce a daily boat.
In addition to manufacturing them, they would have to be stored somewhere, as it allowed them to be housed here and, above all, to concentrate this thriving activity in one place. Exercise that includes not only the construction of ships but also the production of weapons. All of this contributed to the development of naval power in the Republic of Venice.
In the 19th century, with the invasion of Napoleon Bonaparte, a large part of its structure was destroyed, being later rebuilt to make way for the following function or activity that would take place in its facilities, which was the naval base.
Today, only memories of that naval base remain, and the facilities are used, among other things, to host the Venice Biennale and as a research and preservation centre for old and historic ships.
Of all this remaining complex, it is worth mentioning, especially, of course, the entrance, this main door known as Magna Door or Big Door was built in 1460 in a Renaissance style, being the first work in Venice built in that style unique architectural. And of this port are notable, among other things, its two towers and four lions called The Lions of Piraeus, as they were brought from the Port of Piraeus in Greece. Of these four lions, we highlight one of them, the one on the left, which has engraved on its body the marks known as runes, which are a type of script used in Scandinavian countries, particularly the elite guard made these the Byzantine emperor. In the eleventh century.
Just in front of Big Door is the Arsenal Bridge or Paradise Bridge, built in the ´30s, and from here, we recommend that wonderful photo of all this great Renaissance gate.
Getting there is very easy from Piazza San Marco, heading east as if you were going to Palazzo Ducale, you go straight on the edge of the lagoon until you reach Ponte San Biasio Delle Catene when you get there, cross the canal and go forward to the left, straight at the bottom you will see, first the wooden Bridge of Paradise and behind the Great Door.
AN AMAZING STAIRCASE
The "Scala Contarini del Bovolo" is the most impressive and valuable Late Gothic spiral staircase in Venice, located inside the Palazzo Contarini Del Bovolo.
The long existence of this Palace spans five centuries of Venetian history, through which it met several owners, many of the tenants who lived, not always with luxury, in the rooms of this "Casa Fontego" where Fontego in Venetian means a warehouse for the Germans.
At the end of the 15th century, the Palace was enriched with a "strange and elegant" spiral staircase (in Venetian "bovolo", hence the name) commissioned by Pietro Contarini. He was a descendant belonging to the powerful Contarini family of the San Paterno branch who did not the 14th century can be proud of the great honour of having given a Dux, Andrea Contarini, to the Republic of the Serenissimo. And it is precisely in this century that the building´s original construction will take place.
The importance of the Palazzo, which does not dominate the Grand Canal, is due to its privileged position in the urban fabric: in fact, it is equidistant from Rialto, the economic heart, and San Marco, the political and religious heart of Venice.
In-depth stylistic studies coincide in the attribution of the La Scala del Bovolo project to a local artisan identified in the Venetian Giovanni Candi. Both the staircase and the transformation works that involved the internal courtyard with the opening of galleries can also be dated from the end of the 15th century.
The sequence of overlapping loggias solves the connecting element between the tower and the adjacent building, which is distributed over four floors and the ground floor. The result of the fusion of two buildings: a trapezoidal block built around a central courtyard (the oldest core), to which a rectangular body has been added.
Both inside and outside the building, you can still see the oldest Gothic characters: on the façade overlooking St. Mark, fragments of rich decoration with floral motifs and bright colours are preserved, which later leads to the monumental staircase for pausing, while on the main façade of the Rio di San Luca it holds almost entirely its original late Gothic appearance.
Direct and sure testimony of the chronology is the presence of the staircase in Jacopo de Barbari´s plan in perspective: proof that the renovation works were carried out fairly quickly and that by 1500 they were already completed.
You can make your reservation online at the following address:
Admission costs €7
Location: Cultural Center
Venice, San Marco 4303
Corte Contarini del Bovolo,
HUNTING THE NIZIOLETI
Let´s propose a challenge. This challenge can be done together with some of the tips mentioned above or separately. As the title indicates, let´s look for the famous Venetian Nizioleti, but what are these Nizioleti?
As you already know, in addition to Italian spoken throughout Italy, Veneto speaks a dialect of Italian known as Venetian. In this language, the word Nizioleto (singular) means savanna, but not sheets, but alludes to indications on the streets of Venice.
Interestingly, these Nizioleti (plural) are not posters like the ones we see on every corner of the city´s streets, but rather a mural painting, hand-painted directly on the walls of houses or buildings; Today many have been replaced by plaques placed on the wall, but always leaving the original mural painting visible so that it doesn´t get lost.
They are usually rectangular in white, hence the name Savana, enclosed in letters, numbers, arrows and framed with a line, all in black. They use metal molds for the letters, numbers, and pointers to make them, thus achieving a certain uniformity between them all.
Most of these are used to indicate to the Venetian the street´s name, the bridge or the canal or the river they will cross. They are also used to indicate the district, field or square and even the critical parish.
Some are very curious, mainly by name, like El Ponte de la Tette or El Riva di Biasio. The first one we could translate as The Bridge of Breasts refers to a bridge where women living gallantly from their side windows showed their breasts to potential clients, mainly to show that they were women and not men, as sodomy was prohibited time. And the second La Rivera, or Orilla Encantada, refers to a mysterious event in that place. These names have their origins in particular and even tragic people or events linked to the site where they were.
Some indicate a direction, such as; "Al Vaporetto", "Per San Marco", etc. And many of them also replaced them with metal plates with a yellow background while respecting the same font style and font size.
Finally, we have those that indicate the number of a house, business or office, usually with red numbers on a white background and inside a round or oval box and placed on the lintel of the doors.
Well, the challenge is, if you´re walking to get to a specific place or invest a certain amount of time looking for them, try to photograph as many as possible and start making your Nizioleti inventory.
A CLINT EASTWOOD STYLE PRISON ESCAPE
The escape we will talk about will be that of Giacomo Casanova, who in 1756 escaped from Cárcel de los Plomos, in Italian Piombi.
Cárcel de los Plomos is a former prison located next to Palazzo Ducale, just past the Bridge of Sighs. They were built in the 12th century and remained there until 1797 when they were destroyed due to the city´s prison reorganization.
Inside the prison, inmates were placed in two rooms, one called Pozzi on the ground floor, damp and unhealthy, the other called camerotti or piombi, located upstairs, just below the lead-plate roof, hence the name.
Casanova was as stubborn and meticulous in planning his escapes as he captivated other men´s wives. Since July 1755, Giacomo Casanova has been imprisoned in the safest and most impregnable prison in all of Europe and from which no one has ever been able to escape. Without a preliminary trial, he has not been informed of the reason for his arrest - but he suspects it is a personal problem with one of the prosecutors who denounced him. And does not mention the length of his sentence; cheating in games of chance and evil were so common back then that no one was arrested for committing these crimes.
Casanova, exercising in his cell, notices the existence of an iron bar almost two feet long and the thickness of a thumb. With a piece of marble and saliva, he sharpens the bar into a spear; then, he simulates various illnesses, so the guards provide brimstone, a stone, and a bait. With the same ingenuity, he uses a bowl, a cotton sheet-which he strips-and the oil supplied with his lunchtime salads to make a rustic lighter that would make it easier to dig a hole at night. In the end, and after investing 6 hours a day in his task, on August 23rd, he manages to make a hole in the ground.
But, about to escape, he was transferred to a supposed cell, which according to his caretakers, was more comfortable. When making the exchange and checking the place where Casanova was, the jailers discovered the hole, but the clever Casanova takes care to catch the bar undetected and hide it in his new cell; No one can prove he made the hole because they never discovered the tool, so they just paid more attention to his surveillance and only allowed him to exchange books with other prisoners.
But that hasn´t stopped Casanova, so he works with a libertine monk to make a bigger hole the two can escape from, using encrypted messages in the books. Casanova then hid the bar inside a large book, which was a bible, and on this, he placed a plate of pasta, thus making it reach the monk without the guard being able to perceive what was inside the Sacred Book.
After the monk follows Casanova´s instructions to the letter, he appears on November 1st through the hole, and the astute Casanova makes a rope with the sheets and the two climb up to the roof...
The details of the prison´s rules and structure and the details of his escape, Casanova left in writing on the prison´s plates. They are so accurate and intricate that Casanova had enough material to publish The Leads´ Escape in 1787. At the time, the book was criticized as fanciful, but prison authorities later recognized that everything described there was true.
Located next to Palazzo Ducale, your entrance is right through this museum.
Riva degli Schiavoni, 4209
A WALK IN THE NAPOLEON STYLE
The former Royal Gardens of Venice (in Italian Giardini Ex Reali) are close to St. Mark´s Square. During the 19th century, they were known as Napoleonic Gardens, as it was Napoleon Bonaparte ordered their construction in 1806 as part of the project to renovate the Marciana area. An area between the Plaza de San Marcos and the San Marcos basin (the basin is the basin of the Venice lagoon´s water space between the canals of the Lido, the Giudecca and the Grand Canal).
This area housed the Palácio da Biblioteca (now the Marciana library) and the Mint since the 16th century. With the disappearance of the republic and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy, it was necessary to choose the location of a symbolic place to house the new emperor and his ruler, so it was decided to transfer the old library to the Palazzo Ducale and prepare the building. The support of the emperor, the ruler and lawyers, rooms for receptions and, of course, all this with the construction of a garden.
For its realization, several public buildings from the 14th century were destroyed. The gardens were perfectly designed to provide an atmosphere of tranquillity and harmony to the new Royal Palace. The ruler and prince of Venice, Eugenio Beauharnais, wanted to improve the view from his rooms in his new Palace.
With the fall of the French Empire and the return of the city of Venice to the Austrians in 1872, the avenue that runs between the gardens and the lagoon was opened to the public, while the gardens remained for the exclusive use of the court. Finally, they were opened to the public in 1920 and handed over to the City Council for management. After a moment of neglect, they were restored in 1997, regaining all their splendour.
They are not very big, inside they have a cosy and relaxing design that invites you to dream. Among the architectural elements, the Coffe House building is in neo-classical style and has a cast-iron pergola from the 19th century.
It is a space full of benches (scarce in Venice) to relax without haste and enjoy having lunch surrounded by nature. These gardens are often the big ones overlooked by tourists when they move to the city of canals, but that´s an advantage if we want to detox a little bit from the hustle and bustle of the town for a while, another plus not least is that they´re free, something which in Venice is hard to find.
To get to them from San Marcos Square, it will take you just 5 minutes, if you go towards the columns, leaving the basilica behind you, take the right direction, and when you cross the first bridge, you will see the gate that surrounds you on your right. in front of these numerous souvenir stalls, and there among them will be the entrance.
A REST IN THE MIDDLE OF THREE RIVERS.
Venice, a unique city on the Adriatic, offers us almost everything, art, culture, gastronomy, shopping... but it also exhausts us!!! But it doesn´t matter, Venice deserves it, and with this tip, we suggest a place not far from the bustling Piazza San Marcos, with fewer tourists and full of local life to rest after a hard day of walking.
And as fields or squares are what the city has to spare, here we´ll take you to one in particular, which is also one of the largest in the city, bordered by three rivers and just 6 minutes walk from San Marcos Square, Campo Santa Maria Formosa, located in the Castello district, is a square with numerous cafes, souvenir shops, a market, numerous palaces, two wells and especially the monument that gives the yard its name, The Church of Santa Maria Formosa.
Let´s talk a little about this beautiful church built in 1492 in Italian Renaissance and Baroque styles. In its current location, there was an older church from the 7th century founded by San Magno, one of the Bishops of Oberto, who is credited with founding the first eight churches in Venice, this being one of them. Interestingly, the word Formosa means exuberant, and it refers to the Virgin´s confused or vague way of dressing at the time of her appearance.
The church suffered severe damage during a bombing by the Austrians in 1916, the ceiling screens were lost except one, that of Molinari, and the organ was also lost. Already in 1926, it had its last restoration.
On the outside, we have the west façade, the main one in Renaissance style from the 16th century, and both the north façade and the bell tower are in the original Italian Baroque style, both from the 17th century. Interestingly, at the foot of the bell tower, at the top of the entrance door, a grotesque mask was placed. Still, with a certain cheerful air, typical of that upbeat Venetian attitude, legend suggests that it was placed there to prevent the devil from entering the bell tower, climb up to the bells, and do tricks with them, finally legend.
As you can see, it is the ideal place to rest from a busy and busy promenade and sit on some of its terraces admiring the surrounding palatial architecture, have an aperitif or a coffee, visit the church or stroll through its market or watch the street pass by, lives of tourists and Venetians.
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