Park the horse, climb the Clock Tower.

Venice Travel Blog

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Clock Tower, built in 1496

July 17 was the day we had reservations to tour the Clock Tower.  We gathered at the Correr Museum, I had left my horse in the park, and together with a family of four and the tour guide, we headed for the Clock Tower. 

 

Built in 1496, the clock dial shows 24 hours, the signs of the zodiac, and the phases of the moon.  There are two wheels in the tower, one showing the hour of the day in Roman numerals, and the other, the minutes in 5-minute increments.  During Christmas and Epiphany, these wheels are replaced by the figures of the Nativity and the Magi, and the figures move out and across the face of the clock.  There are also four round windows in the clock face that were used by navigators to set their astrolabes.

Original clock weights

 

The clock works were built in Germany over a period of 6 years.  Although modern weights have replaced the old weights, the old weights can still be seen sitting in a corner of the room housing the clockworks.

 

Because the weather was fine, we were allowed to climb a narrow spiral staircase to the roof of the tower and view close at hand the bell and the two Moors who strike the bell at the hour.  The figures are called moors only because the bronze figures attained a dark patina over the ages.  Surprisingly, Venetians live in apartments to either side of the tower.  One apartment even had a roof salon adjacent to the top section of the tower.

 

After the Clock Tower, we hopped a vaporetto and headed up the Canal to the Rialto Market, passing San Giorgio Maggiore Island on the way.

Rialto Market fruit stall
  It was even more impressive, as all the merchants had their fruits, veggies, fish and seafood, displayed in all their glory.  The array of seafood in the fish market was incredible.  And to think that every afternoon, the merchants pack all of it up, cart it off, only to return the next morning and unload it and start all over.

 

We decided to hop a traghetto to cross the Grand Canal.  A traghetto is a retired gondola used to transport passengers back and forth across the Grand Canal at a single location.  There are seven traghetto stations along the Canal.  While waiting for the traghetto to return to our side of the Canal, I asked the woman in front of me if she spoke English, and how much the ride was.  Thus we established that she was Italian and I was American, and neither of us spoke much of the other’s language.

Traghetto
  When the traghetto pulled up to the dock, a young lady got off wearing 3” spike mule shoes, and immediately got her heel caught between two boards of the dock.  She freed her shoe, and continued up the steps to the quay.  The lady in front of me had watched all this, and started muttering something, and the expression on her face and the way she was muttering I figured she was saying, “Stupid tourist, walking around Venice in those kind of shoes, what an idiot!”  I looked at her, grinned and said, “Si!”  At which she gave me a startled look, burst out laughing, I laughed, and who needs to know language to communicate?

 

We rode the traghetto across the Canal, found the Campo, and lunched under the trees in the Campo dei Santi Apostoli.  Then we hopped a vaporetto to the Doge’s Palace on St.

Church on Campo dei Santi Apostoli
Mark’s Square for a tour.  The Palace was the seat of government, as well as the residence of the Venetian ruler, the Doge, and the Doge was the only person in Venice who could live in a “palace.”  All the other residents who had palatial homes could only call them casas. 

 

As in all the other buildings in Italy, whether they be churches, halls of justice, museums, the artwork contained therein was spectacular.  Titian, Veronese and Tintoretto were represented.  The Shield Room was ringed with maps depicting the land from Italy to Palestine to China, circa 1550.  There was the Sala del Collegio where the Doge would receive ambassadors, and all official ceremonies were conducted here.  There was the Hall of the Council of Ten, where justice was meted out to criminals.

Bridge of Sighs ... ahhhhh...
 

 

The armory was filled with weapons of the era, including some Saracen pikes, swords, shields and other battle devices.  It also had a compliment of instruments of torture, such as thumbscrews, and would you believe an honest-to-goodness chastity belt?  This is purported to have been worn by the devoted wife of the Lord of Padua.  It had to be seen to be believed.  Only a man would come up with something like that to put on a woman. 

 

We exited through a small panel to a secret passage that led over the canal via the Bridge of Sighs.

Night on the Grand Canal
  According to legend, criminals got their last look at Venice through the grillwork windows before heading down into the prison cells, and having thus seen, they sighed...  We ducked into the prison cells and torture chambers, and what a forbidding place that was.  Some of the cells had graffiti written by prisoners on ceilings and walls.  The prisons were in use up to the 1930s.

 

That evening, we decided to do the Grand Canal ride, and hopped a vaporetto to take us to the start of the Canal.  Dusk fell, the trip down the Canal was lovely, we scored a couple of seats in the back of the vaporetto, and enjoyed the ride … down the Canal, out of the Canal, over to the Lido, doesn’t the moon look lovely hanging in the sky above Venus? then on to Murano, and … wait wait wait, this is the last vaporetto for the day?  Are we gonna get back to Venice or will we have to swim?  Fortunately, the vaporetto retraced the stops, and we were safely deposited at St. Mark’s Square, where we were only a few minutes walk from the hotel.  Only mild adrenaline rush.  But again, it was 10:30 before we got to the room. 

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Clock Tower, built in 1496
Clock Tower, built in 1496
Original clock weights
Original clock weights
Rialto Market fruit stall
Rialto Market fruit stall
Traghetto
Traghetto
Church on Campo dei Santi Apostoli
Church on Campo dei Santi Apostoli
Bridge of Sighs ... ahhhhh...
Bridge of Sighs ... ahhhhh...
Night on the Grand Canal
Night on the Grand Canal
Clock machinery
Clock machinery
Clock Tower weight room
Clock Tower weight room
Minutes, hours wheels
Minutes, hours wheels
Clockwork Nativity figures
Clockwork Nativity figures
Staircase to Clock Tower roof
Staircase to Clock Tower roof
Moors of the bell
Moors of the bell
More fruits and veggies
More fruits and veggies
Seafood stall in the Rialto Market
Seafood stall in the Rialto Market
And more seafood
And more seafood
Tourist menu at outdoor cafe
Tourist menu at outdoor cafe
Looking toward the Grand Canal fro…
Looking toward the Grand Canal fr…
San Giorgio Maggiore Island
San Giorgio Maggiore Island
Venice
photo by: asturjimmy