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on one side, is astonishing. He shoots around corners, giving, as he does so, a very peculiar shout to tell other gondoliers that he is coming ; in narrow places he glides by the other boats, or close up to houses, without ever touching anything; and when he has a straight course, he pushes on and on, and never seems to be tired. Gondoliers in the service of private families, and some of those whose boats are for hire, dress in very pretty costumes of white or light-colored sailor clothes, with a broad collar and a red or blue sash ; these, with a straw hat and long floating ribbons, give the gondolier a very gay appearance which counterbalances in a measure the somberness of his boat.
The reason that the gondolas are always black is this: In the early days of Venice the rich people were very extravagant, and each one of them tried to look finer than any one else ; among their other rivalries, they decked out their gondolas in a very gorgeous fashion. In order to check this absurd display, there was a law passed in the fifteenth century decreeing that every gondola, no matter whether it belonged to a rich man or a poor one, should be entirely black. And since that time every gondola has been black.
I have said a great deal in regard to gondolas because they are very important to us, and we shall spend much of our time in them. One of the best things about them is that they
are very cheap; the fare for two persons is twenty such as the Palazzo Foscari, are grand specimens cents for the first hour, and ten cents for each suc- of architecture. These palaces are directly at the ceeding hour. If we give the gondolier a little water's edge, and at a couple of yards distance extra change at the end of a long row, he will be from their door-ways is a row of gayly painted posts, very grateful.
driven into the bottom of the canal. They are One of our first excursions will be a trip along intended to protect the gondolas lying at the broad the whole length of the Grand Canal. As we start stone steps from being run into by passing craft. from the lower end, we soon pass on our right the The posts in front of each house are of different color small but beautiful palace of Cantarini-Fasan, and design, and add very much to the gayety of which is said to have been the palace in which the scene. Before long we come to quite a large Shakespeare chose to lay the scene of Othello's bridge which is one of the three that cross the courtship of Desdemona. The palaces which we Grand Canal. We must stop here and land, for
now see rising up on each side, were almost all this is a bridge of which we all have heard, and built in the Middle Ages, and many of them look we shall wish to walk upon it and see what it old and a little shabby, but among them are some looks like. It is the Rialto, where “many a time very beautiful and peculiar specimens of archi- and oft” old Shylock in the “Merchant of Venice" tecture, their fronts being covered with artistic and had a disagreeable time of it. It is a queer bridge, graceful ornamentation ; many of the windows, or high in the middle, with a good many steps at rather clusters of windows, are very picturesque; either end. On each side is a row of shops or covand the effect of these long rows of grand old ered stalls, where fruit, crockery, and small articles palaces, with their pillars, their carvings, and the are sold. This is a very busy quarter of the city; on varied colors of their fronts, is much more pleas- one side of the canal is the fish market, and on the ing to us than if they were all fresh and new. One other, the fruit and vegetable market. The canal of these, the Cà d'Oro, or House of Gold, is par- here, and indeed for its whole length, is full of life; ticularly elegant; and some of the larger ones, large craft move slowly along, the men on board
VOL. XIII.— 23.
and look where we may, we see a man standing on the thin end of a long black boat pushing upon an oar, and shouting to another man engaged in the same pursuit.
Passing under a long modern bridge built of iron, we go on until we reach the railway bridge, where we came in, and go out upon the broad lagoon, where we look over toward the mainland and see the long line of the beautiful Tyrolese Alps. We return through a number of the smaller canals, the water of which, unfortunately, is not always very clean, but we shall not mind that, for we see so much that is novel and curious to us. In some places, there is a street on one side of the canal, with shops, but this is not common; generally we pass close to the foundations of the tall houses, and when there is an open space we can almost always see a church standing back in it. We continually pass under little bridges; at one corner we shall see as many as five, close together; these connect small streets and squares, and there are always people on them. If the day is warm we shall see plenty of Venetian boys swimming in the canals, wearing nothing but
a pair of light trousers, and they care so little for #Pરવા ?
our approach that we are afraid our gondolas will
run over some of them. The urchins are very generally pushing them with long poles; now and quick and active, however, and we might as well then a little passenger steamboat, not altogether try to touch a fish as one of them. I once saw a suited to a city of the Middle Ages, but very quiet Venetian girl about sixteen years old, who was and unobtrusive, hurries by, crowded with people; sitting upon the steps of a house teaching her
THE BRIDGE OF SIGHS.
young brother to swim. The little fellow was very and the other by a rather curious group representsmall, and she had tied a cord around his waist, ing a saint killing a crocodile. At the other end of one end of which she held in her hand. She would this open space, which is called the Piazzetta, we let the child get into the water and paddle away see, rising high above everything else in Venice, the as well as he could. When he seemed tired or when he had gone far enough, she pulled him in. She looked very much as if she were fishing, with a small boy for bait.
We come out into the open water at that part of Venice which lies below the end of the Grand Canal, but just before we do so we pass between the tall walls of a great palace on the right, and a dark, gloomy building on the left. High above our heads the second stories of these buildings are connected by a covered bridge which many of us will easily recognize as the Bridge of Sighs, of which we have read so often and seen so many pictures. The palace is the Palace of the Doges, in which state prisoners used to be tried; and the gloomy building is the prison, into which the condemned came across the Bridge of Sighs, often taking their last view of the world through the little windows in its sides.
As we pass out into the broad waters of the harbor, we turn to the right and have a fine view of the water front of the Doges' Palace, which is a very handsome and very peculiar building, ornamented somewhat in the Moorish style. The
lower part of the front has a yellowish tinge, tall campanile, or bell-tower. This is in the shaded off into light pink toward the top. We Piazza San Marco, the great central point of the next pass a wide open space, reaching far back city; and the next thing we shall do is to come beyond the palace, and at the foot of this are long here on foot and see what is to be seen. rows of steps, where great numbers of gondolas When we start upon this walk, we leave our are lying crowded together waiting to be hired. hotel by the back door, and after twisting about Near by are two columns, one surmounted by the through narrow passages, we soon find ourselves winged lion of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, in a quite wide and pretty street, filled with shops
and people. The pavement is very smooth and and artistic, and are bright with red, purple and clean, being one wide foot-walk, and can gold. In front of the cathedral are three very tall straggle about as we please, without any fear of Aag-staffs, painted a bright red, which have been being run over. I do not believe the Venetians indulge in wheeled vehicles, even to the extent of a wheel-barrow. Crossing a bridge and going through a vaulted passage, we enter the great Piazza. This is paved with broad flagstones, and around three sides of it are shops, the best in Venice, where one can buy almost anything a reasonable traveler could desire. There are also a good many cafés, or restaurants, here, and in front of them, out in the Piazza, are hundreds of little chairs and tables, at which people sit and drink coffee. This is a very busy and lively place, and on several evenings in the week a military band plays here, while the people promenade up and down or sit and listen to it. To the right, near the end opposite to which we enter, is the bell-tower which we have seen; to the left is a tower with a great
clock in the face of it, on the top of which are standing here over three hundred years. When two life-size iron figures, which strike the hours we enter the cathedral, we shall find that it is difwith hammers they hold in their hands. In front ferent from any church that we have yet seen. It of us, stretching across the whole width of the is decorated in the most magnificent and lavish Piazza, is the Church of St. Mark, which, at a little style, somewhat in the gorgeous fashion of the distance, looks more like a painted picture than East. The floor is covered with mosaic work, and an actual building. The Venetians are very fond the ceilings, walls, columns, and altars are richly of color, and have shown this by the way they adorned with gold and bronze and many-colored have decorated their cathedral; the whole front marbles, and some of this ornamental work is six seems a mass of frescoes, mosaics, windows, and or seven hundred years old. On every side we find ornaments. Some of the mosaics are very large unexpected and picturesque galleries, recesses with