When it comes to talk about Venetian bridges, everyone immediately thinks of the extraordinary Ponte di Rialto or the romantic Ponte dei Sospiri (“bridge of sighs”).
The other useful constructions that are essential to walk across the water in Venice are, sadly, almost unknown.
For this reason, we want to give them credit, compiling a top 5 of bridges you may be interested in, for their incredible structure or story.
BRIDGE OF CONSTITUTION (or CALATRAVA’S BRIDGE)
At the bottom of the list, we found the Bridge of Constitution, built by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, only in 2008. It is one of the four bridges that cross the Canal Grande, and represents a valid shortcut to Piazzale Roma, the square where you can find buses going to the airport or neighbouring zones, the tram station and cars. This bridge is one of the highest of the city (88 meters) and its modern arch form seems to perfectly match the classic Venetian style. This bridge is particularly hated by Venetians and commutes, because part of the stairs is made of glass, and when it’s raining or temperatures are below zero grades, it tends to become slippery and dangerous. Be careful and don’t slide!
BRIDGE OF BOOBS (PONTE DE LE TETTE)
Don’t be scandalised by the name, this simple bridge made of bricks and located between San Polo and Santa Croce, has a very particular story: do you know the red light district in Amsterdam? Well, imagine it in Venice during the Republic! This part of the city was crawling with brothels and it seems that prostitutes used to show their nudities from the windows to the people who crossed the bridge: it is pretty obvious why it has this strange name.
BRIDGE OF BAREFEET (PONTE DEGLI SCALZI)
What’s better than a big, stone bridge that say hello to you, when you finally exit the train station? This elegant structure was finally inaugurated in 1934, after a lot of changes and demolitions and its name derives from the near Church of Barefeet. You climb the steps and, on your left, you can see the vision of the Canal Grande and its naval ferment. This bridge represents the main interconnection to the station, but prepare your best slalom skills, because it’s always full of tourists, who want the best shot for a picture!
BRIDGE OF FISTS (PONTE DEI PUGNI)
Another peculiar name for another peculiar story: located near the campo of San Barnaba, the name originates from a sort of game that the faction of the Castellani made against the rivals Nicolotti. They were used to challenge each other in a competition of fists on the bridge: the team who, at the end, had more people standing up, had won the game. Have fun visiting this bridge, and don’t be afraid of possible scuffles, we are not in the sixteenth century anymore and nobody will punch you!
BRIDGE OF STRAW (PONTE DELLA PAGLIA)
We have decided to give the first position to this bridge, whose fate is probably the saddest: built right in front of the more celebrated Bridge of Sighs, tourists walk on it without any care, crowding into this poor stone bridge with the gaze towards their left, in order to take a picture of the more interesting and famous Ponte dei Sospiri. They don’t know that the Bridge of Straw is called like that because, in the past, boats carrying straw had the habit to dock just here, at the bottom of the bridge. A very unfair condition for the Ponte della Paglia but, without it, the best snapshots of the Bridge of Sighs could be nonexistent.
So, this is our top 5 of bridges you can’t miss: now that you know these things, we hope you could reevaluate the idea that so many other bridges could be enchanting almost as much as the Rialto! Have fun discover them!
Post by Elisa Gentile