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The stunning Clock tower of Venice has been watching over the city for over five hundred years, marking the time with absolute precision from a corner of our beautiful Saint Mark’s Square. This is, of course, one of the most famous architectural landmarks in Venice: it overlooks the triumphal arch of the city’s neuralgic shopping street, the ancient "Merceria"connecting Saint Mark's square to Rialto.

Until 1998, the 5 floors of the tower were occupied, as well as by the clock mechanism, also by a guardian, who divided his rooms with the tolling of the Two Moors. Nowadays not anymore. Imagine to be the guardian there? :)

The Moors are two statues which dominate the Clocl tower of Venice and which  are not strictly moors after all, but were thus defined by the dark bronze patina that covers them, strike a blow, each one, every five minutes.

What does it mean for the poor guardian ? This means that the poor guardian suffered 24 hourly strokes that in a day make 264 deafening shots

At noon and midnight, the sundial also accompanies the two noisy and indefatigable moors. To make sure the passage of time is well marked, the sundial re-enacts the 132 shots made by each moor in the previous 11 hours.

Which means that the poor guardian and family listened to 528 chimes a day multiplied by 365 days, that is 192,720 strokes.

The mechanism

The mechanism of the clock tower of Venice has not remained the same since 1499, but has undergone several restorations commissioned to maintain its operation unchanged. The last one was completed in 2006. It is very interesting to look at the cogwheels, the counterweights system and the large 80 cm drums indicating the Roman numerals for the days.

Walking up the stairs, you arrive on the terrace where the Moors and the bell stand out, and from which you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the lagoon.

Venice Clock Tower offer an amazing wonderful view from the terrace, overlooking the Venetian bell towers and streets. There are more than 178, built as rudimentary headlights to send warning messages to ships in the lagoon in wartime.

Venice Clock Tower: the statues of the Magi Kings

If you are in Venice on the day of the Epiphany ( or on the day of Festa Della Sensa) you cannot miss this short but unmissable event, that every year comes to life in Piazza San Marco, observing the Clock Tower.

From midday you can admire the Three Wise Men, the Magi King, in procession in front of the Virgin Mary and the Little Jesus. At the stroke of every hour, from the panel next to the clock, comes out this procession of wooden figures, representing the Nativity, just like a giant carillon.

They come out of a side door preceded by an Angel with a trumpet, bow before Jesus and Mary and fall into the ancient Tower. The statues are not the originals ones of 1499. but a faithful copy made in the 18th century.

The building of the Clock Tower of Venice

The architect Mauro Codussi built the Clock Tower between 1496 and 1499, while the two side wings were added in the eighteenth century. 

The complex system of the clock, which marks hour, day, lunar phases and zodiac, was created by the Emilia-based watchmaker Giancarlo Ranieri starting from 1493; according to legend, when the watchmaker had finished his masterpiece, the Inquisitors of State made him blind, so that he could never again build an equal one.

 

Many thanks to Monica Cesarato blog for details :)

 

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My free walk in Venice tours:

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto tour

Free Walk in Venice tours - The heart and soul of Venice: Carampane and Rialto tour 

Free Walk in Venice tours - the hidden secrets of Venice and Dorsoduro: Venice off the beaten tracks

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Everyone knows the history of Marco Polo, but do you know this legend ?

Legend says that when Marco Polo lived  in China, he fell in love with one of the Great Khan's daughters and after marrying her, they came back to Venice together. The young and beautiful oriental princess was very sweet and polite, but didn't feel comfortable in the lagoon city and unfortunately she became victim of jealousy on the part of the Marco's sisters.

In 1298, when Marco Polo was captured in battle against the rival Italian city state of Genova (Genoa).  So, the envious sisters in law told the chinese girl that her husband was dead; reeling from pain the girl set fire to her clothes and jumped from the windows of Marco Polo's house into the underlying canal (the rio that you can see nowadays on front of the Malibran Theater).

The legend says that, sometimes, if at night you walk through the Milion courtyard (where Polo's houses stood) you can see a white figure floating in the air or you can hear a sweet song of Eastern origin.

There are no certain documents about this story , but a few years ago, during excavations in the foundations of the Malibran Theatre (built on Polo's old houses), human remains belonging to an Asian woman buried with objects of clear Chinese origins and a tiara with the imperial coat were found.

Who was this oriental woman?

 

 

My website: www.freewalkinvenicetours.com

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Facebook: Free walk in Venice tours

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My free walk in Venice tours:

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto tour

Free Walk in Venice tours - The heart and soul of Venice: Carampane and Rialto tour 

Free Walk in Venice tours - the hidden secrets of Venice and Dorsoduro: Venice off the beaten tracks

***Please, keep in mind that this is not a daily walk, contact me leaving your email to have the updated calendar!*** This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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#PEOPLEFIRST ? ? I am proud to ve part of an italian network  made by people that connect constantly to share good practices and ideas on how to further develop and improve tourism itineraries. This weekend Free Walking Tour Italia people met in Turin ? ?last week end.  La nostra rete è fatta di persone che si connettono costantemente per scambiare buone pratiche ed idee per sviluppare e migliorare percorsi turistici alternativi. Questo weekend la rete si è incontrata a #Torino ?

? this is me:  www.freewalkinvenicetours.com

? here where you can find all the other independent free walking tour in Italy: www.freewalkingtouritalia.com

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My free walk in Venice tours:

Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto tour

Free Walk in Venice tours - The heart and soul of Venice: Carampane and Rialto tour 

Free Walk in Venice tours - the hidden secrets of Venice and Dorsoduro: Venice off the beaten tracks

***Please, keep in mind that this is not a daily walk, contact me leaving your email to have the updated calendar!*** This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Free Walk in Venice tours loves the sestier de Cannaregio!

As well as the Sestiere of Castello it is the largest and most populated "sestier" of Venice, it takes the whole northern part of the city, it is delimited by the Lagoon, the Grand Canal and the Castello and San Marco (Saint Mark) Sestiere. The Cannaregio canal is the most important water way of the quarter right after the Grand Canal and it is the only inner canal crossed by the ACTV (public transport company) boat, our vaporetti. Cannaregio is linked to the mainland by a bridge, it is the long railroad bridge from the Santa Lucia Train station to the mainland, the bridge of the Liberty (about 3 850 m) once called ponte Littorio.

The cannaregio name comes probably by the fact that here there where many reed thicket. This appear also on a book date 1410. This is a popular quarter of Venice, well know for the presence of the Jewish getto (the oldest in Europe). The majority of the artworks in this part of the city can be admired inside churches.

It's an area full of our Bacari, typical places for eating and drinking in Venice!

 

Do you want discover more? Join me!

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 Free Walk in Venice tours - Cannaregio and the Jewish Ghetto

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Dear Friends,

do you know we have a FB page? Let's keep in touch through it. Click here Free Walk in Venice tours FB page  --> https://www.facebook.com/venicefreewalkingtour/ 

and add your like to our page!

 

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The Grand Canal, Venice's magnificent water street is also called the “Canalazzo“. This is one of the real canals of Venice and it is the most important water way of Venice. Its lenght is about 3800 meters and it splits the city in two sides, "de citra" and "de utra".

You know, Venice looks like a fish, not bad for a city on the lagoon! The Grand Canal it's like a thick dark line that creates a kind of "big S" inside the fish.

By each sideof the Grand Canal you can see  many different and magnificent palazzi (from a period dated between XII and XVII century) that testify the richness and beauty of the art during  the “Serenissima“ Republic.

The Grand Canal  was the centre of the trades of the Republic since the Middle Age. Here ships (some were over 400 tons) used to sail by: in fact, it is right on the Grand Canal that the “Fondaci” were born. They were a sort of big warehouses and inns for merchants coming from every part of the world. One if this fondaci is: Fondaco dei Tedeschi, now houses luxury shops but..also a magnificent terrace where you can enjoy one of the best view of Venice!

There are 4 bridges crossing the Grand Canal, each built in different eras. The most recent one is the “Ponte della Costituzione” (the Constitution Bridge), known also as the “Calatrava Bridge” (from the name of the Spanish Architect who presented the project) and inaugurated on September  11th 2008. It links the Santa LuciaTrain Station with Piazzale Roma (bus station). Right after it, there is the “Ponte degli Scalzi ("Barefoot Bridge") . Proceeding towards Saint Mark's Square we find the Rialto Bridge, certainly the most famous one, once made of wood "Ponte delle monete". It used to be a drawbridge that allowed the crossing of the canal to sailing ships, when Rialto was the ancient port of the city. The last bridge we meet is the Accademia Bridge, still a temporary structure made out of wood. It is a very important link between Dorsoduro area (and the Accademia museum) and Saint Mark's district.

These four bridges are not the only way to cross the Canal Grande: a quite cheap gondola our public ferry - traghetto) service takes people, tourists and locals, from one side to the other.

The Grand Canal ends in Saint Mark's where the spectacular view of the basin opens wide in front of us. On the right side the Salute church and the “Punta della Dogana” (Custom Point),on the left the extraordinary view of Saint Marks’ Square, the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the dominating belltower, our  so called “El paron de Casa”.

The Grand Canal was, and still is, the most ambitious place to live. All palaces on this water way (no pedestrian access from the Canal) were built and embellished by the most important nobles families of the City. The best way (the only one !!) to see all the palaces is by water bus: sit back, relax and enjoy the splendour passing by!

If you want more tips related to the Grand Canal your our free tour, for a local point of view! :)

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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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