The monument pictured above pays tribute to the Venetians who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Up to this point, we had managed to avoid any of the horrible crowds that Venice is notorious for, especially around the Easter holiday. But, as we approached the Ponte di Rialto, or the Rialto Bridge, the crowds began to intensify, and it was not long before we were in the thick of it. You see, most people follow two paths through the city, marked by signs like the two shown above, and both paths lead from the train station to Piazza San Marco. One crosses the Grand Canal, and the other does not. If you happen to make your way onto one of those main paths, you will be in a situation where walking one block can take you ten to fifteen minutes, or even longer. The streets are narrow, and because of the number of people walking them, lined with shops that cater to the typical tourist, meaning shops selling trinkets that are overpriced, and not worth the euros you would spend on them. People walking along end up stopping, and looking in shop windows, which only makes the foot traffic slow down even more. Then, once you get to a picturesque bridge, and trust me, there are plenty of them, everyone wants a picture, and it may take what seems like eternity to cross a bridge that in normal circumstances, you would walk across in two minutes, at the most. All of that said, there are wonderful things to see along the route.
The Mercato del Pesce al Minuto, found in Campo della Pescaria, is Venice’s main fish market, and Monday through Saturday, you will find it filled with stalls displaying all sorts of fish, freshly caught, and brought to the market via the canal, by boat. Of course, this being Easter Sunday, the market was closed.
The Chiesa di San Giacomo di Rialto is found on Campo San Giacomo, just before the Rialto Bridge. This is supposedly the oldest church in Venice, as it is believed to have been consecrated in 421, on the very date that the city of Venice was founded. According to the legend associated with the church, a man named Candioto, a carpenter, survived a terrible fire by making a vow to San Giacomo that if he escaped unharmed, he would build a church in the saint’s name. Well, he lived, and today, we can still admire the fruit of his labor. Another fire, this time in 1514, completely destroyed the Rialto neighborhood, all except for the Chiesa di San Giacomo, which was untouched by the flames. Today, the church houses a small, lovely museum of music. It seems that during the Middle Ages, all of the music schools in Venice were concentrated in the Rialto area, and it was here that one came, when one wanted to hire musicians. So, it is only fitting that this charming, miraculous little church should honor the musicians of the past. Admission is free, and I highly recommend taking a few minutes, and checking it out, if you ever find yourself in Venice.
A few steps away from the church, you will find the Ponte di Rialto. The Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that cross the Grand Canal. It connects the neighborhood of San Polo with that of San Marco, and is probably the most popular bridge in the city, at least as far as tourists are concerned. There are always people here! The bridge we see today dates from 1588, and was designed by Antonio da Ponte.
At the foot of the bridge, one will find the Palazzo dei Camerlenghi. Construction was completed on the structure in 1488, and for many years, it served as the headquarters for the financial magistrates of the city. The ground floor of the palazzo was used as the debtors’ prison. Today, the palazzo houses the Regional Offices of the Italian Comptroller and Auditor General.
Next up: We make our way to Piazza San Marco!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Venice, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!