photo by Martina Zane
You can't travel around Venice without crossing a bridge.
Sure, if you really tried, I suppose you could figure out a way to traverse the city by boat, and planning your route carefully, avoid bridges to get where you want to go. But for those of us who don't have limitless time to take on such a challenge, there are these amazing feats of architecture known as bridges.
Over four hundred of these spans can be found in La Serenissima.
Most are stone, but there are bridges made of iron, and a number of wooden ones still exist too. Originally all of the bridges in Venice were built of wood.
Wood, iron or stone, we approach a bridge these days and expect it to have railing of some sort, but not all of Venice's bridges originally had such a feature. In fact several of the bridges in the city were built without a railing or parapet for good reason - it made them better for battle. An in-depth look at one such bridge can be read in my post "Ponte dei Pugni". Many bridges also didn't have steps, this may have been easier on the horses; it's hard to envision it but until the sixteenth century Venetians rode horses around town.
Whether it was for safety, convenience, or the all-too-common concern of liability, most of the bridges in Venice now have a railing - most, but not all.
There is one bridge still standing that doesn't have a railing or parapet.
For the record, a parapet is a type of wall which serves as a rail.
The last remaining "rail-less bridge" is the Ponte Chiodo, and Martina has given us a great photo of it.
Located in the Cannaregio sestiere, crossing a canal known as the Rio di San Felice, is a bridge you may think twice about crossing. It's funny how we take some things for granted. However, if you choose to cross over the Ponte Chiodo, and are looking for a place to stay in Venezia, on the other side of the bridge is the 3749 Ponte Chiodo guest house. I've never stayed there, but I'll probably check it out the next time I'm in town.
I wonder how many people have fallen off that bridge.