Categorie
Uncategorized

Best view in Venice? Fondaco dei tedeschi

What is a fondaco in Venice?

Best view in Venice? The answer is Fondaco dei Tedeschi. But what is a FONDACO in Venice specificallyThe word comes from the the Arabic funduq, which literally means hotelThe Italian meaning of it is actually casa-magazzino, literally house-warehouse. In other words it is a place where foreign merchants would deposit their goods, exercise their traffics and often live.

History of the Fondaco

Venice has always been a crossroad of cultures, races, languages and people from all over the world. This diversity has turned it into the perfect mix between the East and the West.
Looking back to its glorious past, it is not difficult to imagine the busy merchant traffic of everyday life. The revolving door of boats, the vitality of the colors of the spices. The fabrics coming from the far away East. The great number of people with different cultural and geographical backgrounds, all living together in the intricate and yet amazing maze of little streets and alleys that Venice is.
Being one the most important bench marks of the maritime merchant shipping, with one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean area, Venice would host merchants from all over the world. These people had important and big businesses in the city. Their staying here was often a long one. For this reason walking down the streets of Venice it is possible to notice the FONDACI or FONDAGHI, in Venetian dialect.
Being a city built on the water, Venice has always given a great importance to its canals. They were, and still are, its main roads. This is the reason why all of the most important palaces have a facade on the Grand Canal, definitely the greatest street of all.
Considering that business and commercial exchanges would be performed directly on the water, the most important Fondaci have a safe place there too.

Fondaco dei Tedeschi

fondaco facade

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, or German Fondaco, finds itself in a majestic and beautiful palace a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge. The building as you see it today dates back to the 16th century. They rebuilt it after a terrible fire that completely destroyed it in the early 1500’s. In fact, the original Fondaco was founded in 1288. This makes it one of the most ancient palaces in the city.

The Fondaco from outside

The facade in its present form might seem plane but it must had been a total wonder to the past traveler’s eyes. It used to be decorated with the spectacular frescos by Giorgione and Tiziano, now unfortunately lost.
The ground floor would be used for the loading and unloading of the goods and of course as a warehouse. In the other floors, that hosted something like 200 rooms, the merchants had their apartments and offices.
As the Republic fell in 1797 the Fondaco was abolished by Napoleon and lost there its traditional and crucial role. It was the end of an era.
In the 30’s the building became property of the Italian Post Office and was renovated in some of its parts. In particular with the demolition of the side turrets and the adding of some windows.

The Fondaco today

inside the fondaco

The contemporary use of the fondaco in Venice as a luxury shopping center dates back to 2016. With a 40 million restoration the place was turned into a wonderland for the most inveterate shopaholics. On the ground floor it is possible to find any type of food and goodies. To enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine or a snack in one of the different bars. The higher floors host more than 60 shops selling the most popular and exclusive brands.
However, the main reason why one should have a look inside is its spectacular terrace on the top floor. The view from there is simply one of the most breathtaking one can find in the city. The perspective is a 360 degrees one on the Grand Canal. It is possible to see the Rialto Bridge, the most impressive palaces, roofs, bell towers and churches. Moreover, the romantic and amazing Venice as a whole, including its lagoon, islands and even the hills and mountains surrounding it. To guarantee a certain order especially in these difficult Covid days, it is recommended to make a reservation to be allowed to have a spot on the terrace. Here is the link.

Dispute about the fondaco

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi, now known as T Fondaco, is one of the many unexpected surprises in Venice. It is also one of the most controversial places you can find here. As a matter of fact, on the one hand it represents an example of how an ancient and historical building can find a new light and become a contemporary bulwark. On the other hand many Venetian would consider themselves very upset by the new touristy face of such an important witness of the golden commercial past. Click here to know more about massive tourism in Venice.
Whatever position you fell to agree with, it is unquestionably true to say the past and the present are somehow once again reunited. Although the commercial purposes and the goods exposed are completely different, the building preserves its ancient meaning: that of buying and selling.
Categorie
Uncategorized

Rialto bridge and its fascinating history

rialto-bridge

Rialto bridge

Rialto bridge was the first one built on the Grand Canal and it is the most famous bridge of the city. Why?

It all began with the foundation of Venice, the first settlements took place in this very area that was called Rivoalto, literally high land. With the development of the city, Rivoalto became the headquarter of the political and commercial life: it was full of markets, storehouses, shops of jewels, precious fabrics, spices and so on. At that time people used a boat, called “traghetto”, to cross the Grand Canal, they had to pay a toll for this service; the first bridge in this location was then built in 1180 and it was called the “toll bridge” because people still had to pay in order to cross it.

The bridge was made with boats that were connected together with some wooden tables and in the middle it was a drawbridge, in order to allow big boats to pass underneath it. It was completely rebuilt in 1255, it was made with wood, with piles as foundations, the drawbridge in the middle and with shops on both sides. People started calling it the Rialto bridge, from the contraction of the area’s name Rivoalto.

Tiepolo's conspirancy

This bridge will remain unaltered until 1310, this year sadly became famous because of the conspiracy of Bajamonte Tiepolo: it was organized by some Venetian aristocrats who wanted to rebel against the Doge.

Their plan was to attack the Doge’s palace (headquarter of the government) and to kill the Doge but it failed: the conspirators were discovered by the army of the Doge and were forced to retire. They crossed Rialto bridge during their escape and, in order to stop the army that was after them, they set the wooden bridge on fire. All the members of the conspiracy were then caught and exiled from Venice; the leaders were condemned to death, while Rialto bridge , that had been damaged by the fire, was repaired. The bridge was then able to survive until 1444 when Venice hosted the wedding of the marquis of Ferrara; on the Grand Canal there was a beautiful parade of boats and everybody wanted to see the bride. A lot of people gathered on the bridge to see the parade… so many that the bridge collapsed! Luckily there were no victims, except for the bridge

Antonio da Ponte

It was rebuilt with wood in 1450 but still, it wasn’t so stable, so the Republic of Venice finally thought: why don’t we built a bridge made of stone, that maybe will be stronger than wood?

They announced a contest to choose the architect that would have been in charge of the entire project. There were different participants, a lot of them were great names of Italian architecture such as Palladio, Michelangelo and Sansovino.

The winner was Antonio da Ponte (it’s ironic that its surname actually means bridge in Italian) who proposed the best solution to all the requests of the Republic. The bridge was completed in 1591, made with Istrian stone and based on 12000 wooden poles, the arch measures 28 meters and with 24 shops (12 per side).

Rialto bridge restoration

Rialto bridge is divided in three lanes: the central lane is 10 meters wide and with bigger steps; the two lanes on the sides are 3 meters wide. Here the steps are lower and smaller in order to facilitate the transit of men with carts that transport and deliver goods all over Venice. To built this bridge the Republic of Venice spent 250,000 ducats, that means 10 times the price that they paid for the previous wooden bridge.

Today you can admire the bridge in all its magnificence because it has been recently restored. It is also one of the most photographed sites of Venice and a must-see for all visitors. Come and discover more curiosities and legends about Rialto bridge and the area nearby during one of our tours! We have plenty of stories to share with you!