The newest bridge over the Grand Canal is still the subject of criticism
The Ponte della Constituzione was the first bridge to be built in Venice for 125 years. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge opened to the public in 2008 amidst a great deal of controversy, and it seems that the arguments still refuse to subside. The fourth bridge over the Grand Canal links Santa Lucia railway station with the coach station and car park at Piazzale Roma. Some of the criticisms levelled at the bridge back in 2008 were that it had been built only a stone’s throw away from an existing bridge, Ponte degli Scalzi.
Others complained about the relatively steep gradient of the bridge and the many steps embedded in its surface, causing difficulties for elderly and disabled people. At a great additional cost the Venetian authorities have attached a spherical red lift on to the side of the bridge to enable disabled people to cross the canal at this point, but critics state that its appearance is like a fairground ride!
Another complaint which Venetians have had with the bridge is one which may have some sympathy amongst Venice’s large tourist population – that the modernist minimalist style of the bridge is incompatible with Venice’s decorative medieval architecture. In the latest development it has emerged that the city council is planning to sue Santiago Calatrava for all the expenses it has incurred in making necessary repairs and improvements to the bridge since the plans were first presented. It seems this saga will run and run …….
Meanwhile, the other bridges over the Grand Canal continue to exist quietly and to be enjoyed by Venetians and visitors alike:-
•Ponte degli Scalzi: The “barefoot bridge” (named after shoeless monks) connects the Santa Lucia railway station area with the Santa Croce neighbourhood. The current stone version was built in 1934.
•Ponte di Rialto: The famous elegant arched stone bridge was the first to be built across the Grand Canal, in the late 16th Century. Lined on both sides with shops, the bridge is a gateway to the Rialto food market.
•Ponte dell’Accademia: A wooden bridge connecting the San Marco area to the Accademia Gallery in Dorsoduro. The current bridge dates back to only 1985 when it replaced a bridge which was deemed too dangerous.
•Lastly, we mustn’t forget the Temporary Votive Bridge. For the 4-5 days surrounding the annual Festa della Salute in November, a pontoon bridge spans the mouth of the Grand Canal from Santa Maria del Giglio, near Piazza San Marco, to Calle Lanza near Santa Maria della Salute).