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Thursday, 02 November 2017 16:11

Horses of Saint Mark - Free Walk in Venice tous

Free Walk in Venice tours are glad to present you: Saint Mark Horses

The horses you can see on the pic are the copy created in 1982, the original are inside the beautiful Sain Mark museum.

The original four horses at St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, can only be described with one word: beauty. They are called the bronze horses, but they are actually pure copper. If you have the opportunity to stare at them long enough, they almost seem real. The two horses pictured above are looking at each other like they are sharing a secret, and we are left in the dark. It’s a miracle of history, time, and circumstance that these horses exist today. We are able to stand and admire their craftsmanship because of a long history of looting, theft, and historic preservation. Do you want when have they been created?

It seems they may have been created by a very famous sculptor, Lyssippos, in the fourth century BCE. However, we must tell you that recent studies suggest that the horses have a Roman and not greek origin. If the antiquity of the horses is not enough to produce a feeling of awe, then the story of how they made their way from Constantinople to Venice will surely amaze. From at least the ninth century CE, and possibly much earlier, the horses stood on top of the Hippodrome in Constantinople. In 1204 CE, Constantinople was totally sacked by Crusaders, and many of the treasures, including the four horses, were shipped to western Europe. This is part of the history.

From 1204 CE, these four beautiful horses grace the terrace at St. Mark’s Basilica. In 1797 CE, Napoleon and the French troop decided that he wanted horses and carried them off to Paris (and not only them). They were returned to Venice a short time later in 1815 CE. There they stood on the terrace until the 1980s, when they were moved inside to save them from pollution. Today on the terrace you can view the replicas, but the real treasure is located inside. The horses stand guard just inside the entrance and look like they are in motion, prancing towards the visitors to greet them. There they will stand for future generations to admire their beauty and realism. Photography is not allowed and the cost of the ticket is 5 euro, totally worth it!

 

 

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Monday, 16 October 2017 12:50

Jewish Ghetto in Venice

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto

 The Jewish Ghetto, the world's oldest, remains intact and is still marked by dark porticoes, peeling paint, laundry hung out to dry, and windows placed so close above one another that you're back aches just thinking about the low ceiling.

Until the 14th century, Jews were allowed to come to Venice for money-lending activities, but were not allowed permanent residents permits. The first Jews were allowed to settle in Venice only in 1385, when the city was involved in a war against neighbouring Chioggia and needed loans from the Jewish money-lenders.
But racism persisted, and in 1516 Venice's ruling council confined all the Jews in a smallen getti, or foundries. The gates were locked at night, and restrictions were placed on Jewish economic activities. Jews were only allowed to operate pawn shops and lend money, trade in textiles, and practice medicine.
They were allowed to area not far from today's train station, where there had be leave the Ghetto during the day, but were marked as Jews: Men wore a yellow circle stitched on the left shoulder of their cloaks or jackets, while women wore a yellow scarf. Later on, the men's circle became a yellow beret and still later a red one.
The first Jews to settle in the Ghetto were the central European Ashkenazim. They built two Synagogues. the Scola Grande Tedesca in 1528-29 and the Scola Canton in 1531-32. They are on the top floors of adjacent buildings, above the Jewish museum and from the outside, are not easily distinguishable from the apartments around them.
Space was limited, and according to Jewish law it is forbidden to have any thing between the Synagogue and the sky - hence their strange attic location. The canton Synagogue was probably added to house the large number of Jews already in the Ghetto.
Next came the Levantine Jews, who practiced the Sepharadic rite. When they got their own neighbourhood, an extension of the Venetian Ghetto granted in 1541, they were wealthy enough to build a Synagogue on the ground, rather than in cramped top floor apartments. The rich red and gold interior of the Levantine Synagogue is particularly beautiful. If you're their in the summer and get to see it. note the intricately carved wooden bimah , or pulpit, and the carved wooden decorations on the ceiling.
Mixed in with the poorer Ashkenazim were Italian Jews who had migrated north to Venice from central and southern Italy. In 1575, they built their own Synagogue on top of some apartments in the same square as the German shul. The Scola Italiana has a cupola, barely visible from the square outside, and a portico with columns marking it's entrance. Inside, there's another exquisitely carved wooden ark of the covenant, housing the Torah.
Levatines and Ashkenazim, Italian and Spanish Jews all lived together in the Ghetto through hard times - including the plague of 1630 - and better times, until Napoleon threw open the gates in 1797 and recognized equal rights to the Jews of Venice. At its height, around 1650, the Ghetto housed about 4,000 people in a space roughly equivalent to 2-1/2 city blocks. Before World War II there were still about 1,300 Jews in the Ghetto, but 289 were deported by the Nazis and only seven returned.

 

Info: http://www.jewishvenice.org/

 

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Tuesday, 25 July 2017 17:45

Respect Venice campaign!

During our Free Walk in Venice tours we always repeat that Venice, because of its uniqueness, is a fragile city.
The increasing number of travellers who walk every day along its calli makes it necessary to remember some rules to be respected by all visitors. This way, discovering the city will be easier, respecting Venice itself and its citizens!

Thank you !

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Rialto Market and the lenght fish

As everyone knows, Rialto was and is still the commercial heart of our beautiful Venice. Even today in this area you can see the main markets with fresh fish and fruits and vegetables that are bearing the morning by boat. What a wonderful experience to be there early morning! The best of themselves the Rialto offers before the opening, where you can find the best bargains in action seeing the skilled tradesmen.

These markets are open all week (fish market is close on Sundays ans Mondays), always crowded first of all with  Venetians...and tourists. 

The fish market is open from Tuesday to Saturday  from 7.30 to  about 12, while that of fruits and vegetables is open from 7.30 to about 13.30.

 The most fish stalls is in two buildings with a view of the Grand Canal, in the Campo del pesce (campo of the fish).

A close area, the so called Erberia, however, is the right area where you can find the fruit and vegetable market. It offers an interesting walk through colorful fresh fruits and vegetables.

These markets were built in neo-Gothic style in 1907 as a replacement of the metal roofing from the nineteenth century. The fish market has been here for almost a thousand years. Let you know that that the Republic of Venice regulated since 1173 the sale of fish with a special edict which laid down the rules for the trade. La Serenissima was particularly severe with fish vendors selling undersized fish.

Already in 1173 an edict of the Republic of Venice informed consumers on the minimum size of the fish one should buy, imposing precise and strict rules. Today at the Rialto fish market one can still see a white marble table. It indicates the minimum length allowed for the sale of fish, in particular about the catch of some species of fish in order to preserve their growth: from the 12 centimetres of the bass ( keep in mind that today they have become 25 centimetres) to the 3 for mussels (in Venice called peoci).

 

 Rialto market white marble table indicating the minimum length allowed for the sale of fish Free Walk in venice tours Isola Tour

Good to know that already 900 years ago fishermen were questioning the legitimacy of some fishing. Why? Because  the minimum length of the different species of fish can influence the destiny of the sea’s population. And this is  the objective of the Decree 1967/2006, also known as the “Mediterranean Decree”.

 

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Here our Veronica at the Rialto market during the heart and soul of Venice tour by Isola Tour. Join our Free Walk in Venice!

 

 

Free Walk in Venice

by Isola Tour association

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Sunday, 04 December 2016 17:46

Gondole for everyone ! Venice free tours

Gondole for everyone !

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Gondola, Venice

The venetian Gondola was  the main type of transportation for Venetians, even outside the city..we can say  until the invention of motorboats. But that was in particular for very rich people, a kind of limousine ;)

First mentioning of gondola was in the far 1094. That was a very important year, it was the same year when St. Mark’s Church (Basilica di San marco) was consecrated.

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Ancient gondola in Ca' Rezzonico museum

 

 

 

It is 11 metres long, made up of 280 different pieces of wood and is painted with seven layers of black paint. It can be steered by a single gondolier with just one oar!

 

 

What about colours?

At the beginning you could decorate and paint your gondola however you wanted. Didn't you know that? We don't think you knew that because the typical gondola nowadays is a black gondola!

Hovever, wealthy noble and rich families could even risk bankruptcy in order to maintain their appearances and have colourful and unique gondolas. So they kept on to decorate their gondole.

Back in the past, gondolas were covered up with a wooden cabin called felze.

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Gondole represented by Gentile Bellini in the early 1500’s, Gallerie dell'Accademia museum,Venice

 

The Venetian Senate ended this extravagance mood of decorating trought a law to  evem ban decorations and to make all gondolas black... gondole that everyone knows.

Today Venetian people are not using gondolas anymore.. but tourists can take a gondola ride pretty much anywhere in the city. The price is fixed, it’s 80 € for 30 minutes during the day and 100 € during the night. 

There are also wedding gondolas…

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A gondola decorated for a wedding

… or funeral gondolas.

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 18th century funeral gondola in Venice

But the ones we are still using and that we love  the most is the so called "traghetto". Traghetto means "ferry boat", a public service across Grand Canal.  The faster way to cross it! This is a very cheap service, just 2€! Of course this will last only few minutes, but that’s the way locals doa. and finally you can share a gondola with Venetian people.

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People getting on a traghetto "ferry boat" at Rialto market, Venice

 

By Free Walk in Venice

Isola Tour project

4 meeting point, unlimited knowledge and fun for our Venice free tours.

www.freewalkinvenice.org

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Curious remarks in Venice: Palazzo Grimani di San Luca

 

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This palace was built in the mid-16th century for the procurator Gerolamo Grimani by the architect Nichele Sanmicheli and completed after his death by the architect Gian Giacomo de' Grigi, known as the Bergamasco.

A legend connects these large openings to an episode rekating to a young Grimani. The young man wanted to marry a young lady of the Tiepolo family, so he asked for her hand, receiving this reply from her father:

"It shall never be said true that I gave the hand of my daughter to a desperate man that has no palace on the (Grand) Canal".

At that, young Grimani promiused that he would have built a house with windows larger that the doorway of Ca' Tiepolo, and so it was.

 

Did you like this curiosity? Join Free Walk in Venice and our tours will help you to discover more and more !

 

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Where? San Marco, fondamenta della Chiesa 4041

Vaporetto waterbus stop: 1-2-N  RIALTO

 

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4 meeting points, unlimited knowledge and fun. Join our Venice free tours  !

 

 

 

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016 18:38

Discover Dorsoduro ... The Pugni Bridge!

Discover Dorsoduro, Venice - The Pugni Bridge !

Departing from Campo San Barnaba, turn left. After a short walk along fondamenta Gerardini, you will come to the "barca", a floating fruits and vegetable shop.

But let's talk about the Pugni bridge. In the past, until 1705, the citizens of Venice were divided into two different factions, the Castellani (those who lived in the Castello, St. Mark - San Marco and Dorsoduro zones) and the Nicolotti (who lived in the Cannaregio, San Polo and Santa Croce areas).

Clashes were frequent and often took place on the city's bridge. These fights, which at times involved hundreds of people, were not repressed or punished by the government, who merely decided the rules. The congflicts could only take place between September and Christmas and they followed a precise set of rules. Once the challenge had been made, referees were chosen, as was the bridge where the fight would take place. On the chosen day, each faction would arrive to a roll of drums and the sounding of trumpets and would present its champion who either fought alone or in small groups.

The real war only began after this. It consisted of a gigantic free-for-all with hundreds of men battling to get to and claim the centre of the bridge.

Fisticuffs were allowed and, until 1574, sticks too. These were sharp people died. The picture you found on the bridge is the shape of a foot which marked teh contestant's startimg point.

 

 

Do you want to know more our beautiful Venice? Join our free walk !

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Sunday, 20 November 2016 09:00

The feast of the Salute - 21st November !

The feast of the Salute - 21st November and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute.

In 1630 a plague broke out in the city. It was devasting and very contagious. It was said to have started with a carpenter who lived nearby and went to work at San Clemente, an island in the lagoon. The ambassador of the duke of Mantua, who had fallen ill, was kept on the island in isolation. Soon the disease spread to Venice killing a great many people. In October 1630, doge Nicolò Contarini (1630-1631) made a vow to the Madonna: if the plague stopped, he would build a magnificent church dedicated to her. Shortly afterwards, the epidemic died down.

It was decided that the sanctuary should be placed in one of the most pretigious areas of the city, right in front of the basin of St. Mark. On 1 April 1631, doge Contarini laid the foundation stone and, to celebrate the occasion, coins were monted with the image of the doge (who died the following day!) and these were put in a hole in the centre of the curch. Hovewer the shape of the curch had  not been decided yet. Something unique was needed, a building no one had ever seen before, and with lots of light. A competition was held.

The design that won was by a young architect called Baldassarre Longhena (1598-1682) and it was decidedly original in comparison with the traditional Venetian churches.

The exterior is white, in Istrian stone and it is covered by a dome. The entrance door, framed by four columns, is enormous and it is opened only on November 21st, the feast day of the Madonna della Salute.

Over a million stakes were used for the foundation of the curch! In 1687 it finally opened and doge Marcantonio Giustinian promised that in future the doge in office and his retinue would make an official visit to the curch on NOvember 21st each year, crossing the Grand Canal on a bridge made of boats. The feast of the Salute is still one of the most important appointments on the calendar in Venice!

 

Do you want to know more? Join our Hidden gems and secrets tour :)

 

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Let's discover Piazza San Marco - Saint Mark's square!

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All the squares in Venice are called "campi" except the most important of all, Piazza San marco, Saint Mark's square.

 

This square was the centre of political life and all the buildings that surround it were connected to the governement of the Serenissima. It was here that all the most important feasts, celebrations and games in the city took place. In the IX century the doge decided to move his residence here and he had a kind of castle built, the Palazzo Ducale.

In those days the square was much smaller than it is now. In the centre there was a canal, the Batario rio, beyond which there was an orchard "brolo", with vines and fruit trees. Where thne Clock tower stands now there was a sanbuca tree, which the merchands used for tying up their horses. There was a bell tower too, but it was about half the size of the present one and it was mostrly used a watch tower.

The water of the lagoon went aroud the doge's palace-cum-castle, beside the bell tower and as far as a small church, which was the doge's private chapel. Over the centuries the square changed, Artist Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) painted a picture of the procession that took place in the square on April 25th (St. Mark's feast day) 1496.

It is like a photograph of the past. The Palazzo Ducale had by then lost its fortress look. The best defence of the city was the lagoon, which separated it from the enemy like a wall.

 

Gentile bellini processione in piazza san marco free walk in venice free tour

 

During our tours we don't cover San Marco square but during your Venice holiday we'll give you a lot of info related to all Venice points of interest. What are you waiting for? Choose our free tour FREE WALK IN VENICE!

 

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Thursday, 10 November 2016 10:46

Discover Burano with Silvia!

Do you know the colourful Island of Burano ?

"Burano is well worth a visit. This bright colored island, located a short boat ride north from Venice is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing and amusing morning or afternoon". We have a special friend, Silvia who last year decuided to start showing her Burano from the local point of view.  During a a short-lenght walking tour, 45 minutes, she show uncovers breath-taking hidden corners and the secrets that "normal" visitors don't get to know. Leaving crowds of tourists at our back and get away from the hustle, to find the peaceful and enchanted Burano that only locals have knowledge of. If not for Silvia, Burano would look like bright colored buildings and an amount of lace. She takes visitors around her island explaining habits and  ways of life. In and out of streets walking  to her favorite corners and more traditional points of interest.

 

Here below her contacts info:

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buranobur

 

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