A new bridge in Venice

All over the world communities have different ways of commemorating their dead.

Some towns honour their fallen by erecting statues. Others have plaques, busts, eternal flames, or named buildings.

Thinking about this made me wonder what the best way would be for Venice to commemorate a modern-day hero or heroine.

How about building a bridge in their honour?

Seems fitting, no?

After all, Venice is the bridge capital of the world, with 400-odd of them spread around the city.

So, as probably the only person in the world (apart from Adeline, my partner) to walk across one hundred bridges in Venice in one day, I was particularly pleased when Venice announced recently that the city will be erecting a new bridge in honour of Valeria Solesin, the Italian student and Venetian who was shot and killed during the Bataclan attack in Paris.

Valeria's funeral in Venice took place on St Mark's Square, in what must be the first funeral to be held in that famous square in a while.  The bridge, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be known as the Valeria Solesin Bridge. Below is a CGI graphic representation of what the bridge will look like.


«Mi dispiacerebbe molto che le cose venissero complicate dalla partigianeria politica. Io sono un uomo libero, e il mio personale sostegno al Sì non dovrebbe portare a minacciare conseguenze sulla giunta di Venezia. Di certo, io non ho paura di niente». Luigi Brugnaro di Venezia è il sindaco, outsider della politica spesso paragonato a Berlusconi. E il suo supporto al Sì ieri ha infiammato Matteo Salvini: «Faccia senza la Lega». Anche se i due leghisti eletti a Venezia non sono determinanti per la maggioranza.


Given the circumstances in which the bridge will be constructed, I doubt whether the sort of raucous public debate that surrounded the design of the snazzy, modernist Calatrava bridge will ensue here. Certainly, it doesn't look like Valeria's bridge will be in keeping with the typical historical style of existing bridges in Venice.

But then, this is the twenty-first century, and the bridge is honouring a young Italian student, so in that sense the design is perfectly fitting. Of course, having her name attached to a Venetian bridge puts Valeria in quite rare company. Many of its neighbouring ridges have been named after Doges, Saints, and other famous Venetian residents.

I think Valeria is thrilled, wherever she is.


** We're hoping the town planning department of Venice sticks to its schedule to finish the Valeria Solesin Bridge by February next year. Because that'll mean we'll be able to include it on the next 100 Venice Bridges Challenge.... hint hint... ;)  

When visiting Venice runs in the family

Tomorrow is the funeral of Adeline's grandmother. Her death wasn't a surprise - she'd recently turned 93 - but it's still a great loss. She was a cheerful, grand lady, and I can still hear her standard response when we asked how she was - "All the better for seeing you, dear!" she'd smile, sitting in the sun on the verandah of the old age home where she stayed.
I'll miss her, particularly because, like me and Adeline, she loved to travel. When she heard we'd been to Venice and loved it there, she gave us a photo that ever since has been hanging in our house. 
Grandparents on a gondola in Venice, 1956

 She and her husband had spent three weeks in 1956 traveling in Europe, and among other, they'd visited wonderful Venice. And, like tourists still do today, they'd taken a gondola ride. 
It's a special photo to us. I'm a little sorry that there's no bridge visible in the photo, because that means I would have been able to pinpoint exactly where the photo was taken, and perhaps visit the spot to see how it's changed, and perhaps we could do a reprise photo. Wouldn't that be nice?
Ouma, rest in peace. We'll be sure to continue the family tradition of traveling all over, but especially to Venice.


A picturesque little bridge we missed...

Every Venetophile worth their salt knows there are more than four hundred bridges in Venice crisscrossing the city's labyrinth of scenic canals. Let me say that again: FOUR HUNDRED BRIDGES. Stone ones, brick ones, old ones, new ones. On the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge we visited, well, one hundred of them, so therefore there are more than three times as many bridges in La Serenissima that we 'missed'.

We'll leave the obvious question, 'When are you going to do the next three Bridge Challenges to cover the rest?' aside for the moment. I mean, we're still recovering from that little 1000 kilometer walk we did a while ago.

On the Challenge we did try to include the most scenic bridges in Venice. We were at the Rialto, the Calatrava, the Scalzi and the Accademia, the four bridges that span the Grand Canal. All the bridges had something or other that made them special.

But there is a bridge that springs to mind, that I'm rather sorry we didn't, or couldn't, include.

This bridge is located on the island of Torcello, a longish vaporetto ride away from Venice itself. This sleepy little island is where the story of Venice began, shortly after the fall of Rome. It has a well-restored cathedral dating from the year 639, which is its present claim to fame. But in pre-medieval times Torcello was a bustling trading port when Venice was still nothing more than a swampy mass. Gradually the harbour and surrounding areas silted up, and a malaria mosquito infestation and other factors gradually reduced the island's population of thousands to a dozen or so today.

Torcello is also known for the Ponte del Diavolo, or Devil's Bridge, one of only two Venetian bridges that don't have hand rails of any sort. During the Challenge we did pay a visit to the Ponte Chiodo, the other 'blank' bridge.



The Devil's bridge is well-restored, neat and tidy. There are few buildings on the banks of the canal it crosses, giving it a wonderfully pastoral ambience in a garden setting.

Perhaps, in general, it'll be good idea to broaden the challenge next time and include bridges on the many other inhabited islands such as Murano, Burano and Sant'Erasmo in the Venice lagoon. Could be fun, because some of the islands are very, very different from Venice, the tourist hub.

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