Welcome to Venice, Italy.
The Ponte della Costituzione was completed in 2008 and was designed by Spanish Architect Santiago Calatrava.
The bridge has been controversial since the project began in 1999 due to its design and placement.
Santiago Calatrava was recently fined $87,000 by the city of Venice for the poor design of the bridge.
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The Grand Canal is the largest and most important canal in Venice.
The Santa Lucia Train Station is Venice's main station located right on the Grand Canal.
This is one of only four bridges to span the Grand Canal.
The bridge was completed in 1934 to replace an old iron bridge.
The Grand Canal is roughly 3.8 km long (2.36 miles).
The narrowest section is around 30 m wide (100 ft) while the widest part is 90 meters (300 feet).
The average depth of the canal is around 5 meters (16.5 feet).
The boat up ahead is a water bus known as a Vaporetto.
A single ticket on the vaporetti costs €7.50 which is valid for 75 minutes of unlimited travel.
The vaporetti operate from 5am to midnight.
There are 22 different vaporetti lines that take passengers all around the Venetian islands.
Across the channel is the Chiesa di San Marcuola, a Catholic church dating back to the 12th-century.
The Vaporetti lines 1 and 2 run up and down the Grand Canal between San Marco and Piazzale Roma.
This is the Venice Natural History Museum founded in 1923.
As of August 2018, recreational boats such as canoes and kayaks have been banned from the Grand Canal.
The ban includes some of the smaller canals as well.
While a Vaporetto is a great way to get around Venice, they are often very crowded.
If you want to experience the true essence of Venice, it is best to hire a private boat or take a gondola ride.
The building ahead on the right is the location of the Venice fish market.
Next to the fish market is a fresh produce market known as the Rialto Market.
The fish market building was built in 16th century after a fire destroyed much of the area in 1514.
One of the most popular tourist activities is taking a gondola ride through canals.
Not every rowing boat is a gondola.
A gondola has a specific shape and size and its design is full of meaning.
Just one gondola requires 280 separate pieces of timber and costs around 40,000 euros to build.
Gondolas were designed specifically for the Venetian canals.
Unlike other boats, a gondola does not have a keel or a rudder.
Instead, they are steered by a gondolier who stands on the stern.
There are around 350 gondolas in Venice and 400 gondoliers.
A gondola is typically 36 ft (11 meters) long and weighs approximately 1300 lbs (600 kg).
All gondolas have been painted black since the 16th century due to a decree by the Doge of Venice.
Prior to the decree, gondolas were highly decorated and very colorful.
At the time, Venetian nobles were using gondolas as a way to promote their status.
Gondolas originally had cabins which allowed the nobles to travel privately.
The cabins were eventually removed as gondolas become increasingly used by tourists in the 20th century.
The price of a gondola ride is fixed at €80 for a 30 minute tour during the day and €120 for a tour at night.
A gondolier wears one of the most famous uniforms in the world, a striped shirt, dark pants and an optional straw hat.
The striped shirt only become part of the uniform after WWII, possibly an influence of the French Navy.
At the beginning of the 16th century there were around 10,000 gondolas floating around the canals of Venice.
Today there are only around 400 gondolas in Venice.
It takes around 400 hours of training before one can become a gondolier.
Each year only 3 or 4 hard working individuals earn their gondolier's license.
In 2010, Giorgia Boscolo became the first woman to obtain her gondolier's license.
The left side of a gondola is 10 inches longer than the right side.
This helps counterbalance the weight of the gondolier who stands on the stern.
The first bridge at this location was built in 1854.
It was replaced in 1933 by this wooden bridge although the people were hoping for a stone bridge.
The bridge offers two of the best views in Venice, looking at the Grand Canal in both directions.
In 1986, the bridge was rebuilt using the original plans.
There are over 170 buildings built along the 2.5 mile stretch of the Grand Canal.
The majority were built between the 13th and 18th century and have entrances right on the canal.
This large domed church is the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, built in 1681.
Starting in 1630, the plague killed one-third of the of population of Venice.
The church was built and dedicated to the Virgin Mary in exchange for her intervention with the plague.
At time 1:23:04, we will exit the narrow channel on the left near the red umbrellas.
This building here on the right was completed in 1682 and was originally a Sea Customs House.
It remained a customs house all the way up until 1980 after which it was abandoned for two decades.
Finally, in 2009, the building reopened to the public as an art exhibition hall.
The tower up ahead is St. Mark's Campanile and it is the tallest building in Venice and 5th tallest bell tower in Italy.
The large building to the right is the Doge's Palace built in 1340.
Directly behind the Doge's Palace is St. Mark's Basilica, completed in 1092.
The narrow white building just below the bell tower is the public library, the Library of St. Mark, completed in 1588.
The longer building just to the left of the library, is one of three building that wraps around Piazza San Marco.
The side in view is the Procuratie Vecchie along the north side of the piazza.
The Columns of San Marco and San Todaro can be seen just near the water's edge.
There were originally going to be three columns, but the ship carrying the third column sank in the lagoon.
The other two columns were left on the shore for over one hundred years before they were finally erected in 1127.
Crossing over the narrow channel just the right of the Doge's Palace is the Bridge of Sighs.
This boat tour will pass under the Bridge of Sighs at time 1:10:01.
The stone bridge up ahead is the Ponte della Pietà built in 1333.
This narrow canal is called the Rio dei Greci.
Ponte dei Greci
There are 177 canals in Venice.
To the right is Campo San Lorenzo.
There is only one "piazza" in Venice and that is Piazza San Marco, or St. Mark's Square.
All other 'town squares' in Venice are given the name Campo, meaning field.
There is also only one strada (street) in Venice and that is Strada Nova.
A path along a canal like the one on the right is called a Fondamenta which means foundation.
I had to turn the camera around for a moment to check the lens.
The famous bookstore, Libreria Acqua Alta, known for its unique book displays is just up ahead where you see the flag.
Next time you see a gondola, pay close attention to the curved shape on its bow.
Ponte dei Conzafelzi
The curved metal ornament on the bow of a gondola is called a ferro (iron).
This is the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a public square with a well-known Gothic church.
This canal will soon open up into the waters of the Venetian Lagoon.
Ponte dei Mendicanti
If you want to skip this section of open water, jump ahead 10 minutes to time 58:27.
This area to the right is a large ship yard known as the Arsenale.
To the left in the distance you can see the Lorenzo Quinn’s giant hands sculpture, "Building Bridges."
At the time, I was not aware of the giant hands sculpture just to the right of me.
The city of Venice is made up of about 100 islands joined together by bridges, alleys and pathways.
There are over 400 bridges in Venice that join the islands together.
Venice has been divided up into six different neighborhoods, called Sestieri.
This sestiere, which includes everything east of San Marco, is called Castello and is the largest of the six.
The name Castello comes from an old Roman castle that was built here in this district.
What do you think of my boat? :)
This waterfront, known as the Riva degli Schiavoni, is named after the Slavic men who brought cargo to Venice.
The orange building with white trim is the Hotel Danieli, a luxurious 5-star hotel which first opened in 1822.
The building was originally a palace built in the 14th century called Palazzo Dandolo.
To the right of the Doge's Palace is the palace prison.
The two buildings are joined by an enclosed bridge known as the Bridge of Sighs.
The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment.
Again, take a close look at the ferro at the front of the gondolas.
The ferro has an S-shape with six dents facing out and one facing inwards.
The top part of the S-shape represents the Doge's hat while the bottom represents the Grand Canal.
The six dents facing outwards represent the six sestieri of Venice.
The one dent facing inwards represents the island of Giudecca.
Finally, the indent below the "doge's hat" represents the Rialto Bridge.
The gondola is steered using an oar which rests on a rowlock called a forcola.
The forcola provides a variety of fulcrum positions, each having its own effect on the rower's oar
This canal passes straight through the San Marco sestiere and opens up into the Grand Canal opposite the Salute.
The Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo with its famous spiral staircase is just behind the buildings to the left.