RIALTO BRIDGE, San Polo Side

Audio File length: 2.25
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

On the side that goes towards St. Mark's district, near the bridge you can see a large building with a crenellated roof called Fondaco dei Tedeschi, which you probably already noticed from a vaporetto. The "Fondaco" or "warehouse" was in fact a kind of chamber of commerce, where the important merchant community of Germanic residents gathered in Venice. At the beginning of the 1500s it was half destroyed by fire, but rebuilt soon after in a much more grandiose fashion with offices, warehouses, and retail space, partially referencing the traditional appearances of the Venetian trading "fondaci" since the Byzantine era. Unfortunately you can no longer see the exterior decorations of the early 1500s that had been entrusted to Giorgione and Titian: only a few traces remain, and are preserved at Ca' d'Oro. For this reason, the palace may seem a bit bare.

On the opposite side, the stairs of the bridge will lead you into a bustling market area at the entrance to the San Polo district. The area was arranged with long wings of sixteenth-century porticoes, the so-called "old factories" where even today you can see shops and stalls with the characteristic white awnings. As you'll notice, the market is crowded at all hours, but with different crowds: in the early morning the Venetians will go shopping there, in the middle of the day it's full of tourists heading to the Basilica of the Frari, while in the evening it becomes an obligatory point for anyone enjoying Venice's nightlife thanks to the many clubs in the area, the typical "bàcari" (Venetian popular bars), and the restaurants overlooking the Grand Canal.

 

 FUN FACT: one of the Rialto market's landmarks which will surely fascinate you is the curious church preceded by a portico, called San Giacomo di Rialto, or more popularly "San Giacometo". You may have already seen it in the works of the great painters of the seventeenth century, from Guardi to Canaletto. Yet looking at it today, after the many renovations it has undergone, you'll find it hard to recognize it as the oldest church in Venice, founded nearly 1700 years ago! (or at least, that's what the legend says...)

And with this we have finished our tour of the Rialto Bridge: MyWoWo thanks you for staying with us, and will see you at the next Wonder of the World!

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