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Venice reminds me of an old, old lady, still beautiful despite the obvious signs of ageing, and slightly resentful of the attention her beauty still attracts
She is also a bit down on her uppers and not adverse to ripping people off, if she can get away with it.
Even in March, and a chilly March at that, there were crowds in the main tourist areas; what it must be like in the summer, I dread to think.
However you donʼt have to go far off the beaten track to find a real city going quietly about its business.
Actually not that quietly. For a city with no roads it is surprisingly noisy.
Mostly the sound of tens of thousands of people all talking volubly and excitedly at the same time
Columns of San Marco and San Teodore
The two granite Columns of San Marco and San Teodore originally came from Constantinople,
and were erected in their current position in 1172.
The western column is crowned by a statue of St Theodore (patron saint of Venice up until AD 828) slaying a crocodile.
Clearly the sculptor had never seen a crocodile as it has only two legs and a greyhoundʼs head.
The Dogana da Mar was originally a watchtower and customs house where boats docked before proceeding on into Venice.
It was built in 1677 by Giuseppe Benoni.
The adjoining warehouses are the Saloni del Sale; vast premises that used to be used to store salt.
In 2009 part of these buildings were converted to form a new centre for contemporary art, the Punta della Dogana, after fourteen months of renovation.
On the tip of the point is (or was) a statue of The Boy with the Frog by Charles Ray.
He looked like he could do with something a bit warmer than the Perspex box he was enclosed in at the time of my visit.
Amongst the many Venetian words that have found there way into the English language (Arsenal, Gondola, Lagoon, Lido, Regatta to name but a few)
Ghetto is perhaps the most notorious.
In 1516 the Council of Ten decreed that all Jews should be confined at night to an islet in the Cannaregio region
that had originally been home to a foundry (or geto in Venetian).
Reprehensible as it seems today, compared to the waves of anti-Semitism that were engulfing many European cities at the time, this was a very tolerant attitude.
Over the centuries the Jewish population grew to over 5,000 and the ghetto grew upwards and outwards to cover the adjoining areas.
It was not until 1866 that it was abolished, and Jews were allowed to live were they liked.
As a rail fan I was more or less reconciled to the idea of a holiday without trains,
or at least nothing more than a glimpse of one crossing the causeway.
Then I discovered that Venice has recently acquired a People Mover (pronounced "Pea-polly Move-err" in Italian).
This two-car cable-hauled railway connects the parking island of Tronchetto with the Cruise Terminal and the Piazzale Roma Bus Station for a fare of €1.
Not hugely exciting, unless you are desperately in need of a rail fix.
As far as I am aware, there are only two bridges in Venice or the lagoon that have no parapets:
one is the Devilʼs Bridge on Torcello,
the other the Ponte Chiodo which spans the Rio di San Felice in Cannaregio.
Although many early Venetian stone bridges were originally built this way, all of them have had parapets added, except for these two.
In the case of the Ponte Chiodo that is probably because it only leads to the door of a single house, number 3749, now a well-known guest house.
Santa Maria della Salute
Santa Maria della Salute is the only church in Venice I came across where photography is permitted.
It consists of a huge octagonal ambulatory with six chapels radiating off. The only seats are in front of the high altar.
It was built between 1631-87 in thanksgiving for the fact that only about a third of the population were wiped out in the plague of 1630,
the name Salute meaning health and salvation.
Squero di San Trovaso
The Squero di San Trovaso is one of the few remaining gondola workshops (squero) in Venice and one of the easiest to see.
The buildings have a Swiss or Tyrolean look to them as the workers originally came from an area around Cadore in the Dolomites, part of the Italian Alps
It is not open to the public.
Jacopo Robusti, nicknamed Tintoretto because his father was a silk dyer,
lived in the house at 3399 Fondamenta dei Mori from 1574 to his death in 1594.
He was born in Cannaregio in 1518, and only left Venice once in his life.
Many of his works remain in the city, including some in the church of Madonna dellʼOrto just round the corner.
As well as a plaque, one of the three moors is also located on the front of the house.