Ponte dei Bareteri, San Salvador and San Bartolomeo
Ponte dei Bareteri
You are now on the Ponte dei Bareteri, the hatmakers’ bridge, which is halfway along the Mercerie. This bridge holds a small record, as it has 6 different alleys leading on and off the bridge. Coming from Piazza San Marco, looking up you’ll see a protruding windowed balcony in wood. This is the Casino Venier, historically one of the most famous gambling houses in the city, where noblemen would indulge in all the dissolute pleasures prohibited by the State; gambling, for example, was strictly forbidden anywhere in Venice and the penalties were severe, but Venetians loved disobeying rules as much as they did playing. Today, the building houses the French cultural association Alliance Française.
This is Campo San Salvador, which today seems less like a square than a transit space. In place of the tall post you see at the centre was once a well where people would tie their horses, since it was illegal to ride through the Mercerie highstreet during working hours. The beautiful Church of San Salvador is known as the most florentine church in Venice, for its elegant Renaissance façade and its cloister inside. The church famously contains two of Tiziano’s greatest works: the Annunciation and the Transfiguration.
Campo San Bartolomeo, or as Venetians call it San Bortolo, is for many Venetians the most common meeting point, given its strategic position at the centre of the city. At the centre of the campo is the statue of Carlo Goldoni, Venice’s great 18th century playwright, who seems to smile sardonically at the milling crowds below. With your back to the Rialto Bridge in the campo you’ll see a pharmacy, which displays a device that keeps count of the number of citizens in Venice, now sadly decreasing every day.
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