Venice – San Marco – a walk along the Riva degli Schiavoni

The Riva degli Schiavoni is the waterfront street that heads east from Piazetta San Marco and the Palazzo Ducale (see my previous posts). The view across the lagoon to Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore with the gondalas tied up in Saint Mark’s Basin in the foreground is one of the classic views of Venice, appearing on several postcards.

In Piazetta San Marco there are the Columns of San Marco and San Teodoro, which mark the ceremonial gateway for official arrivals from the sea. From the mid-18th century the area between the two columns was also used as a place for executions, creating the local superstition that it’s bad luck to cross the space between the two. Which makes me wonder whether visiting dignitaries knew whether to walk around or between them.

The columns (more war trophies from Constantinople) are dedicated respectively to the two patron saints of the city. The column of San Marco upholds the saint’s winged lion, the symbol of the city and the Venetian state. The statue is in fact an ancient Greek or Syriac bronze sculpture, possibly a chimera (hybrid goat lion), to which wings were later added. On the other column San Teodoro, a Byzantine saint, warrior and the first protector of the city, is depicted in the act of killing a dragon (not a crocodile, despite appearances). The saint’s bust comes from a classic statue of a Roman emperor, while his head, halo, arms and and legs date from medieval times.

After passing the Doge’s Palace and crossing the Ponte della Paglia (viewing the Ponte dei Sospiri on the way), you soon come to the beautiful Palazzo Dandolo, now known as the Hotel Danieli, at 4196 Riva degli Schiavoni.

Built in the 14th century by the Dandolo family, it is now a five star hotel, one of the best in the city. I popped inside for a nosey around the ground floor.

Murano glass is everywhere.

If you don’t mind parting with 20€ for a cocktail, the rooftop terrace restaurant has incomparable views of Venice and the lagoon.

A little further along is the Monument to Victor Emmanuel II with it’s very lifelike scary lions. Emmanuel was the first king of a united Italy in the modern era.

Then on the next block is a nice church, Santa Maria della Pietà, which you’ll find in my coming post on Churches in Venice.

If you wish, you can keep walking to the next district of Castello, more of which in the next post…

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