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From: Venice's Top 11 Free Sights
As you leave the Piazza San Marco and the Piazzetta (the branch of St. Mark's Square that leads past the Doge's Palace to the water), turn left and follow the Riva degli Schiavoni, the first section of the waterfront promenade that runs continuously (with several name changes) to the Giardini Pubblici park and beyond.
Along the way, you'll pass the San Zaccaria and Pietà waterbus platforms. San Zaccaria (sometimes abbreviated to "Zaccaria") is a major stop for several ACTV vaporetto lines. Pietà (shown in the inset photo) is the turnaround station for double-deck pedestrian ferries that connect central Venice with suburbs on the Lido and points beyond.
If you're lucky, you may see one or more ships tied up along the waterfront: possibly a river vessel like CroisiEurope's Michelangelo (shown at right), or perhaps a yacht, a sailing ship like the Italian Naval Academy's Amerigo Vespucci, or a small ocean cruiser.
You'll also pass hotels, cafés, exhibition venues, and--after 15 or 20 minutes--the site behind the public gardens where the Biennale di Venezia art exhibition takes place during odd-numbered years.
Unless you're pressed for time, keep going until you reach Sant'Elena, a relatively modern 19th and early 20th Century residential neighborhood with parks, the city's football stadium, and a marina.
Cross the Accademia Bridge from San Marco to the sestiere or district of Dorsoduro. Bear left as you leave the bridge and follow the main tourist thoroughfare to the imposing Santa Maria della Salute Church, which is worth a quick visit. (Admission is free.)
From the Salute church, walk the short distance along the water to the scenic viewpoint at Dogana di Mare, continue around the tip of the island, and follow the wide promenade called the Zattere along the Giudecca Canal. (You'll see plenty of water traffic including vaporetti, motoscafi, cargo boats, local car ferries, year-round cargo and passenger ferries to Greece, and--during the warmer months--cruise ships, which cruise through the Giudecca Canal on their way to and from the Marittima and San Basilio cruise terminals.
St. Mark's Basin by the Numbers
Next page: Grand Canal
|Top 11 Free Sights in Venice:|
|1. Piazza San Marco|
|2. Basilica di San Marco|
|3. Venice Waterfront (St. Mark's Basin)|
|4. Grand Canal|
|5. Rialto Bridge|
|6. Rialto Food Markets|
|7. Venetian Ghetto|
|8. Canali, Campi, Calli (canals, squares, back streets)|
|9. Churches (Salute, Carmini, and others that don't charge admission)|
|10. Shopping Streets|
|11. Islands (San Michele, Murano, Burano, Torcello, Lido)|
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Top photo copyright © Steve Geer.