This is the third post in my Venice series, focused on all that Piazza San Marco has to offer. Be sure to keep an eye out for the final installment of the series – food (!) – that will appear very soon.
Piazza San Marco (or Saint Mark’s Square) is the square in Venice. So my friend and I made the choice to spend two whole days of our trip exploring as much of it as we could. Saturday was spent exploring the Basilica, climbing up the Campanile and wandering through the backstreets in order to find the Ponte Rialto. I spent Sunday getting very excited about looking around the Ducal Palace and looking around more backstreets before taking a trip down the Grand Canal on vaporetto no. 1.
On both days, the square was flooded during the morning (I mean mid-calf deep), but it went by about 1pm. Market stall holder were on hand to sell rain-macs for your shoes for around 10 Euro and there were stilt-like pathways for people without these to walk on.
Right, let’s do this item by item.
The Basilica: Undoubtedly the focal point of the square, this is one of the most lavish buildings that I have ever seen and makes the square ‘spotable’ from the seemingly never-ending backstreets. Huge, and of historic importance, the Basilica houses a decent sized museum at the top that you can go through for just 5 Euro. We probably spent a good hour-90 minutes in there taking it all in.
The Campanile: Probably the second thing you see after spotting the Basilica, the Campanile is the bell tower of the square that offers a 360 view of Venice if you’re willing to pay 8 Euro to get the lift to the top. In all fairness, even if you’re only up there for 15 minutes, the views make up for the 8 Euro price tag..
Ponte Rialto: AKA the Rialto Bridge, this is the oldest bridge across the Grand Canal that creates a literal dividing line between two regions of Venice: San Marco and San Polo. Described as one of the architectural icons of Venice, the famous bridge was unfortunately undergoing some major construction work while we were there, meaning that we didn’t get to see the whole bridge in all its glory. What we did see was great though. The bridge is fairly easy to find: just follow the street signs to ‘Rialto’.
The Ducal Palace/The Bridge of Sighs: I’m compiling two into one, here because we initially though that the Bridge of Sighs was completely separate from the Ducal Palace.. Turns out it’s not, and the Bridge of Sighs has a fairly grimy story about how it got its name. Supposedly, the view of Venice from the Bridge of Sighs was the last one that prisoners would see before being taken down to their cells – they would sigh at the thought of it. Quite honestly, the bridge lost its appeal once I found this out. Anyway, the Ducal Palace – just wow. We spent at least three hours just meandering around this glorious piece of architecture: there was just so much to take in. Although, with an entry fee of 18 Euro, you’d hope so too. This is just one of those places that you have to see if you visit Venice!
Vaporetto No. 1/The Grand Canal: This has to be one of the best ways to take in the majority of sights that Venice has to offer. A ride that lasted for the best part of 45 minutes for just 7.50 Euro allowing us to really sit back and relax while finishing off our sight-seeing, line No. 1 starts around Piazza San Marco and goes all the way back to Piazzale Roma passing under the Rialto Bridge and going past the quaint houses of Venice. While it was a little cold when we went, my friend and I chose to sit at the back of the boat, outside rather than in, to get the best views. This is something truly worth doing!
So there it is, a very quick round up of what Piazza San Marco has to offer. Keep an eye out for the food post that will be coming your way very soon!