Venice – Bridge of Sighs, between a palace and a prison

This famous bridge is called by the Italians the Ponte dei Sospiri, and is a covered double passageway between the Ducal Palace on our left and the Criminal Prison on our right. Prisoners when condemned were conducted across this gallery to receive their sentence, after which they were led away to execution. This bridge is, as you can readily see, a single arch of bold and artistic design, and is thirty-three feet above the water. It was erected in 1600.

The prison has accommodation for about four hundred prisoners, and the side toward the Ducal Palace has a stern and gloomy aspect well suited to the character of the structure. It was built in 1589.

From our present point of view we may see to good advantage the handsome side of the Ducal Palace with its artistic windows and basement of facetted stone.

An old American lady when asked her impression of Venice, replied, that at the time of her visit there the spring freshet had flooded the streets to such an extent, that the citizens were compelled to use boats to get about the town, either for business or pleasure. It looks as we had struck a spring freshet ourselves and the boats are pretty thick in the flooded street, so much so that we wonder how they are going to pass one another.

There are now between three hundred and fifty and four hundred bridges in Venice, and the numbers of canals are variously estimated from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty. The farther bridge seen under the Bridge of Sighs is built of marble and is very bright and attractive. We catch some of the charm of Venice here. The sunshine sparkling upon the dancing waters of the canal makes a broad path-way of light in front of the somewhat somber but picturesque gondolas ; while the waters, lapping the walls of the old palaces and dwelling houses, fill the air with a murmur of soft and dreamful music.

Except in special places, like the Public Gardens, there are no trees to be seen, and tourists need not learn the Italian for ” Keep off the grass under penalty of the law.”

We have seen somewhat of the city, but as yet we have not taken our position upon any great elevation and obtained a bird’s-eye view of Venice. We will therefore avail ourselves of the opportunity by enjoying the same view from the summit of the old Campanile that thousands upon thousands of travelers had enjoyed before its fall. The red lines on the map connected with the number 97, show that we are to look toward the southwest.