There are few more unforgettable moments than that first sight of Venice in all its hustle and bustle on the gleaming waters of The Grand Canal: gondolas; vaporetti (water buses); water taxis; barges; emergency and police launches and crowds of over-excited visitors poring over their maps.
Making our way from the railway station to the Number 1 vaporetto stop, we swipe our tickets and cross the small bridge to the floating landing stage. This is not the place to hang back. If you want to bag a seat on the outer deck at the front you need to be assertive and hold your place in the queue.
One’s first trip down the Grand Canal is guaranteed to stimulate even the most hardened tourist. Off we go, passing under the Scalzi Bridge, where the Canal is spread before us.
Several palazzi (palaces) present themselves: Palazzo Barbarigo, with its painted façade, Ca’ d’Oro and Ca’ da Mosto are among these beautiful old buildings as we reach the Pescheria (fish market) on the right hand side.
Rounding a bend, the famous Rialto Bridge towers overhead as a multitude of tourists peer down at us.
Past Ca’ Foscari and Palazzo Mocenigo, where the poet Lord Byron stayed in 1818, and the famous Ca’ Rezzonico, we approach the wooden Accademia Bridge, situated beside its eponymous galleries. The low building which houses the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is next followed by the dead windows of “haunted” Palazzo Dario.
Then a close-up of the church of Santa Maria della Salute, one of the most iconic sights of Venice. Off to our right we can see Palladian masterpiece San Giorgio di Maggiore on its own little island.
We approach Palazzo Ducale and Piazza San Marco where we finally alight at this famous spot.