Some of the most fascinating and authentic finds in Venice appear in unexpected places—on the side of a church altar, in a street-corner shrine, on a sign in the alleyway. Don’t miss these fun opportunities to immerse yourself in Venetian artisanal history. Here’s one of my favorites:
A hidden sixteenth-century shrine to the Madonna and Child is carved into the side of the Ponte della Paglia. That’s the bridge where tourists stand to take a picture of the more famous Bridge of Sighs near the Piazza San Marco. Most people miss what lies below them.
The shrine to the Madonna and Child is carved in high relief into one of the spandrels of the bridge so that it is visible to gondoliers as they glide underneath the bridge’s arch. Below the image of the Madonna and Child are two carved gondolas with passenger compartments (felzi). This area was once the spot of one of the city’s many traghetti (ferry stations), the Renaissance equivalent of a taxi stand.