Things to Do in Venice
Image courtesy of Deposit Photos
The Rialto Bridge that spans the Grand Canal in Venice is famous for several things. First, you can shop there as it is lined with small shops (their rent and taxes contributing to the upkeep of the bridge). At its ends, you can stare down upon the waterway traffic below, water taxis, water-busses, gondolas and commercial traffic. And then there are the lovers; nobody can guess the number of marriage proposals that have occurred on the romantic Rialto Bridge.
The oldest and still functioning of the four main bridges that cross the Grand Canal, Rialto is designed for pedestrian traffic only. In Italian it is Ponte di Rialto, and it began as a pontoon bridge in the 12th century. But fires destroyed it, and it was rebuilt — using wood — and a 1310 fire all but wiped it out. Venetian officials decided then next incarnation should be of stone, and among others, Michelangelo was one of the architects.
During the Renaissance, the bridge was started in 1558 and completed in 1591, with one major central arch high enough for almost any boat traffic (of the time) to pass through. It is 48 metres (157 feet) long, 23 metres (75 feet) wide, and has a clearance under the main single arch of 7.5 metres (24 feet). But what matters to visitors is its staggering beauty, detail and romanticism.