Venice – Bridge of Rialto and St. Mark’s Square

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Our Venice

Rialto and Piazza San Marco

In this article we deal with the so-called main island or "Centro Storico" (old town), which actually already consists of several islands. Since the old town is relatively extensive, as far as the offer is concerned, we deal here with the part to the right of the Grand Canal.

Since there is a lot to marvel at on this page and we don't want to overwhelm anyone with long texts, this part is also divided:

The islands of Venice

Venice is not called "The Lagoon City" for nothing, because the area of the city of Venice is located in the Venice Lagoon, a lagoon largely separated by headlands and islands in the north of the Adriatic Sea. The lagoon was formed around 4000 B.C. by deposits and sediments from the Brenta and other rivers of the Po plain. How many islands belong to Venice? This question is difficult to answer, as it completely depends on the definition of the word island. In the literature, it is often spoken about approximately 120 islands in the lagoon. These range from big boulders in the water up to small, inhabited islands that are connected by bridges. Do we now count the boulders as islands? Are the islands connected by bridges one large island or many small islands? 

What can definitely be said, however: There are a total of 11 islands in the lagoon that are permanently inhabited.  

Approach to the main island

San Marco

As explained in our first post, Venice is easy to get to.

The usual places to go are Piazzale Roma and Santa Lucia train station. From here you can take the vaporetti (water buses) towards the main island.

Theoretically, you could also reach the main island without a vaporetto, but you would have to cross various bridges, which are not barrier-free. The easiest way for a wheelchair user to get from A to B in Venice is and remains the water boat.

From the pier Piazzale Roma you can use the lines 1 and 2 to reach the Centro Storico. It is important to pay attention to which side of the Grand Canal you want to get off, as not all stops are served equally by both lines.

Since we are dealing in this part with the part to the right of the Grand Canal, we recommend line 2, which will take us appropriately to the first stop - Rialto "C" or "D" (right because we are looking at Venice from above as shown on the usual maps).

Rialto Bridge & Surroundings

The Rialto Bridge can be enjoyed already during the ride with the water bus, because we have to pass under the Rialto Bridge to reach the stop. So it's worth to reserve a nice seat when boarding the water bus and enjoy the view from afar.

The stop is called "Rialto", but has several stops, which are served by different lines. So there is the stop Rialto "A" & "B", which are seen from Piazzale Roma further away from the Rialto Bridge and the stop Rialto "C" & "D", which are closer to the Rialto Bridge. The two stops and/or the respective islands are separated by a canal, that is why one has to think carefully at which stop one gets out. In case of doubt, you have to take the vaporetto from stop A to stop D again.

The Rialto "D" stop can be reached by line 2, which also takes less time than line 1 from Piazzale Roma to the Rialto "D" stop.

Tour: Rialto Bridge & Fontego dei Tedeschi

Sightseeing Tip 1

After leaving the vaporetto we walk along the Calle Larga Mazzini and reach the small Campo San Salvador with the church of the same name, as well as the Scuola Grande di San Teodorothe sixth of the great scuole (literally: school, meaning the brotherhoods that carry it). The church of San Salvador is home to a variety of works by different artists.
The main entrance at Campo San Salvador is unfortunately not accessible due to the 9 steps (the first step 15 cm high and the others 8 cm). The side entrance, which can be reached via Calle delle Mercerie, has 11 steps (each 12 cm). As there are handrails on both sides of the stairs, people with, for example, incomplete paralysis, who can walk in sections, can visit the church. Dating back to the 16th century, the Scuola Grande di San Teodoro is now one of Venice's leading concert halls, but also serves as an exhibition space for various events. The main entrance is not barrier-free due to 4 steps. However, the side entrance on Salizada San Todaro has only one step and can be accessed with the use of a light wheelchair and the help of an attendant. The first floor, which is used for concerts, can only be reached by stairs.

If you continue along Calle Larga Mazzini, you will reach Herringbone, the famous shopping street that connects Rialto and Piazza San Marco. Until the Ponte dei Bareteri the road is passable, but then the bridge puts an abrupt end to the excursion.

If you turn left at the end of the Calle Larga Mazzini, you will reach the Campo San Bartolomio by which Statue of Carlo Goldoni.
From here you can see the Rialto Bridge which was built at the end of the 16th century by Antonio da Ponte and houses small shops on each side, which are also the foundations for the two large arches. At the end of the Campo San Bartolomio we turn left into the Calle delle Poste and enjoy the unusual view of the Rialto Bridge. But the best view is from the department store Fontego dei Tedeschi, the former headquarters of the Italian Post Office, which is now used as a shopping centre. The so-called Fonteghi (fondachi) were the merchants' warehouses, which served both as homes and warehouses. The facades of the building, built at the beginning of the 16th century, were originally decorated with frescoes by Giorgione.

To get back to the vaporetti stop, you can take the Ramo del Fontego dei Tedeschi the Calle Bobaseri left of the Rialto bridge to the Calle Larga Mazzini go back and then turn right.

Tip:

Who has a enjoy breathtaking views of Venice would like, can refer to the Roof terrace of the Fontego drive up. The roof terrace is barrier-free accessible. This is ensured by the elevator to the top floor and an additionally installed lifting platform, which can be used with the help of the staff. Unfortunately, the roof terrace is no longer an insider tip and admission is only possible with prior online booking. However, people with an EU disability card do not have to pay admission (as of 2019) and are allowed to bring an accompanying person. The stay on the roof terrace is limited to 15 minutes, otherwise the tourist crowds could not be managed.

Important notice:

In the Fontego dei Tedeschi department store there are barrier-free toilets on the top floor.

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Tour: Campo San Luca & Palazzo Contarini

Sightseeing Tip 2

If you get off at the Rialto A or B stop, you can explore another small part of the San Marco district.
For this we follow the Fondamenta for a short distance and then turn left into the Carbon Street, directly in front of the Ca' Farsetti off. At the Ca' Farsetti is a Byzantine palace dating back to the 12th century, making it one of the oldest in Venice. Today it houses the city administration.

The Carbon Street ends on Campo San Luca, a very busy little square, which is lined with many bars.
We take the first calle on the right and immediately turn left to reach the Campo Manin to reach. On this square is the Daniele Manin Monument, a famous Venetian patriot from the 19th century. We continue along the small narrow alley on the left side of the square and before the left turn we find a small courtyard on the right. Here is the spectacular Palazzo Contarini from the fifteenth century, where we can admire the magnificent Scala del Bovolo (bovolo means snail) can admire. The latter is open to the public, but has no elevator.
In the adjacent garden you can see some "Vere da pozzo" (fountain surrounds, also called puteal), including Venetian-Byzantine and various decorative fragments.
From here we go through the Calle dei Fuseri back towards Campo San Luca. We cross the Campo and go down the Forno Street along, turn right into Teatro Street and are standing right in front of the Teatro Goldoni, dedicated to the very famous Venetian playwright who worked in this area for a long time and created some of his most famous masterpieces here. His plays dealt with the life of people in Venice in the 18th century and were performed in this theatre. The theatre can be entered by wheelchair via a side entrance, which is equipped with a lifting stage. The stalls of the theatre are accessible by a stair lift, where some seats reserved for wheelchair users are available.
Immediately behind the theater on the left side is the Bembo Streeta narrow alley that takes us back to the Riva del Carbon at the Canale Grande. Here is also immediately the landing stage known to us.

Attention:

To get back and forth between the two Rialto stops, one has to do a little trickery. If you want to do the excursion Campo San Luca & Palazzo Contarini first, you have to take the Vaporetto 1 in direction San Marco to the stop San Tomà in order to get to the other Rialto stop. There you change to line 2 in the direction of Piazzale Roma and get off at the Rialto stop (Banca D'Italia Stop).

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St. Mark's Square & Surroundings

The Piazza San Marco is probably the most famous part of Venice. Logically, you can not leave out this part when visiting Venice. However, it is also the most crowded part of Venice and therefore exhausting for wheelchair users. Who likes to have crowds of people around all the time and thus hardly has the possibility to look at the beauty of Venice. The part of the island San Marco on which the Piazza is located is also crossed by many canals and this is why there is also here only a limited freedom of movement. Often, one has to walk back the same way that one took to a special building.

But read for yourself:

Tour: From St. Mark's Square to the Church of San Zulian

Sightseeing Tip 3

There's a lot to marvel at on this route. But let's start slowly.
Marciana we achieve with the help of the Waterbus line 2no matter which direction. The stop is called San Marco Giardinetti.
However, we like the stop San Marco Vallaresso better, because from here you can make a nice tour through Marciana. This stop can be reached with the Water bus line 1.

From the San Marco Vallaresso stop we'll go down that little alley Vallaresso Street along (directly opposite the bus stop) and, after turning left, reach the Campo San Moisè and the church of San Moisè, which has a fascinating baroque facade and a bell tower from the 13th century. The church can only be reached by steps.

Instead of turning left, we could have turned right and gone across the Arcades Ala Napoleanice the Piazza San Marco can reach. For a moment we can enjoy the spectacular view. Unfortunately, to get to the piazza at this point, you have to climb steps. But there is another way. For this we leave the arcades, turn turn left into the alley Calle del Salvadego and follow them until we reach Bacino Orseolo (a pretty landing place for gondolas). We go right and reach the piazza via the Arcades Procuratie Vecchie. From the Piazza San Marco you can see the Doge's Palace, the Museo Correr, the National Archaeological Museum and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, the largest national library in Italy....of Italy. 

In order to Museo Correr (Tel. +39 041 240 52 11), you can use the elevator located at the entrance on Calle del Savadego. However, the lift may only be used when accompanied by staff. On the first floor there is the ticket office, the cafeteria, accessible toilets and some exhibition rooms from which you can also Access to the Archaeological Museum (Tel. +39 041 5407211)and to the National Library (Tel. +39 041 2967663). A second, internal lift also leads to the second and third floors of the museum. It is also possible to use a third lift from Procuratie Nuove n. 52, which leads directly to the Correr Library on the second floor. It is advisable to contact the museums beforehand using the telephone numbers provided. Then everything goes a lot easier. 

After the visit to one of the museums, we go back to the daylight, directly zaround Torre dell'Orologie (clock tower), one of the most important buildings of the Venetian Renaissance. Unfortunately, the tower is not barrier-free accessible, but from the tower you can walk on a historical path without any obstacles up to the Church of San Zulian walk. This street, which connects Rialto with Piazza San Marco, is called Mercerie and is lined with many small shops.
Inside the church of San Zulian you can see the Works by Jacopo Palma the Younger marvel at. The main entrance of the church unfortunately has two steps, the side entrance one step. 
We walk back to St. Mark's Square along the same path.

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Tour: Around St. Mark's Square

Sightseeing Tip 4

Back on the Piazza San Marco we now deal with the St. Mark's Basilicawhich you can see through the Porta dei Fiori enters. This is on the left side and has a fixed ramp. However, the mosaic floor inside St. Mark's Basilica is very uneven and sometimes difficult to navigate. Due care is advised here. To reach the altarpiece, four, rather steep steps have to be climbed, while the treasury in the next room can be reached with two not very high steps.
The Museum thanks to a personnel-controlled Elevator can be reached by wheelchair. This leads into the third and fourth floor. So you can use the so-called Matrons reach. The outside balcony with the four horses is unfortunately not accessible. Admission to the cathedral is free for people with disabilities.

Just behind St. Mark's Basilica on the left side is the Doge's Palace. The main public entrance is at the Porta del Frumento (1 step of 15 cm), directly at the quay. If entry is not possible because of the step here, you can visit the palace from the Porta della Carta (on the side directly by St. Mark's Basilica). Through this entrance you reach the courtyard of the Palate with its famous stairs "Scala dei Giganti". On the ground floor there are accessible toilets, a cafeteria and a bookstore. A lift takes you to the first and second floors, on which the magnificent Sale Istituzionali and the Doge's Apartments can be visited. The armoury and the prisons are unfortunately not accessible without barriers.

If you reach the Doge's Palace via the Porta della Carta you can go straight to the Campanile di San Marco admire. From its top you have a great view over the whole of Venice. Thanks to an elevator, this is accessible barrier-free. Unfortunately, the elevator can only be reached via four steps of 17 cm and one step of 14 cm. The staff (reachable under Tel.+39 041 5224064) will be happy to assist you.
From the Campanile, it is worthwhile to have a walk alongside the quays from which one has a great view to the basin of San Marco. Here you can also reach the Ponte della Paglia reach. One of the oldest bridges of Venice. The bridges all have attached ramps, over which one then also has a view of the Ponte dei Sospiri can enjoy. The Ponte dei Sospiri is a passage built of Istrian stone, through which prisoners were led from the offices of the State Administration to the prisons.
After the bridge you get left into the Albanesi Street and thus reaches the Campo di San Filippo e Giacomo. There we turn left again, walk along the Calle delle Canonica and reach the cloister of Sant'Appollonia, which today houses the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.
From here we take a leisurely walk back to the San Marco Giardinetti stop or alternatively - depending on the next excursion destination - San Marco Vallaresso.

Attention:

To start this excursion, you can either take the vaporetto lines 1 and 2 from Piazzale Roma, which, depending on the season, run along the Grand Canal to the S. Marco Vallaresso stop. If you start from Tronchetti, you have to take the vaporetto line 2 to Piazzale Roma first and - depending on the season - change to the 1 or you can go through with the 2. Line 2 goes to S. Marco Vallaresso or to S. Marco Giardinetti, depending on the season.

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Next time

In the next post, you'll get tips from us on the 

Tour in the Canneregio district
incl. Cà d'Oro

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To travel is to live - to live is to travel.​

Jean Paul
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