Bridges on the Grand Canal.

Old Feb 15th, 2009, 03:40 PM
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Bridges on the Grand Canal.

There are four bridges over the Grand Canal – all of them interesting.
The new bridge is worth walking around, as well as over. I believe the architect was Spanish, and surely must have been influenced by Guardi’s work in Barcelona. There is hardly a straight line on the bridge, and when you walk under it, it almost looks like it has grown out of the ground – it is so organic.

Next down the Grand Canal is the bridge at the railway station. It looks old, but was built in the 1930’s. The old bridge had to be demolished because it did not give enough height for the ferries to pass – and at that time, the ferries were true steamers. Take a good look at it – the arch of the bridge is elliptical and elegant, unlike the Rialto which is semi-circular.

There have been a number of Rialto bridges, built in 1180, 1264 and 1310. In 1144 the bridge collapsed under the weight of a crowd gathered to witness the arrival of the wife of the Marquis of Ferrara, a beauty in her day. Antonio da Ponte (Tony of the Bridge) built the present structure between 1588 and 1590. The three year construction period clearly inconvenienced the Rialto merchants, and the rumour was started that the bridge wouldn't be finished until the male organ grew fingernails, and the female counterpart caught fire – or words to that effect.

The contractor can always have the last word. Tony placed small statues of these very events on the adjacent Palazzo dei Camerlinghi. They are on the market side of the bridge, visible from the steps. He who pays the masons laughs last.

The Academia bridge was designed by the same architect who designed the 1930’s bridge at the station – if you look, you can see the same elliptical profile to the arch. Two fine memorials to a most gifted architect.
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Old Feb 15th, 2009, 03:57 PM
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Peter, thanks for the information.
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Old Feb 15th, 2009, 04:02 PM
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Are people still taking tumbles on the new bridge? In the first 20 days ten tourists fell and hurt themselves, apparently due to a combination of lack of attention (not looking where they were stepping while marvelling at the views) and an optical distraction from reflections from the glass-and-stone construction.

Others said that some steps are wider than others, apparently to let people use them as mini-observation platforms, so people miss a step in their stride.

Still, not having to go the long way around just to get from the station to Piazzale Roma must be nice. We'll get used to the looks, like we did with the pyramid at the Louvre and with the Beaubourg...
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Old Feb 15th, 2009, 04:10 PM
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Guardi: 18th C Venetian painter
Gaudi: Turn of the century Spanish architect.
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Old Feb 15th, 2009, 04:17 PM
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Noted - Gaudi it is.
The steps on the bridge do feel odd when you walk over it - the rises vary in height, the tread lengths change in an unexpected fashion, and the noses to the steps are rounded. There's no way that the bridge would comply with Australian standards for stairs. Ditto for most stairs in Venice.

It's lovely.

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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 05:29 PM
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You should go to this site to read about the Calatrava Bridge - the Bridge of Bodges. It is an Italian site, but the piece about the bridge has been translated into something resembling English. Read about what it cost to build and how much it will cost each year in maintenance. Wonder at how they managed to design and build it with no disabled access, contrary to legislation, and how it is going to cost even more millions to retro-fit some sort of chair-lift, and how that will ruin the appearance of the bridge. Also consider how it was completely unnecessary, since it is only a few hundred metres from the Scalzi Bridge.
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