Venice Past and Present (Part 1)

When I was researching the background of In My Lady’s Shadow, I found out about the existence of an old painting, showing the Rialto Bridge in Venice at the time of my novel.

The miracle of the relic of the cross at the Ponte di Rialto, dating from c. 1496 by Vittore Carpaccio shows the miracle of the healing of a man with a mental illness through the relic of the Holy Cross, which took place in the Palazzo of San Silvestro on the Grand Canal, near the Rialto Bridge.


I love the inverted cone chimney-pots of medieval Venice. The bridge is still in wood here, as it was before it collapsed in 1524. Like the current version (dating from 1591) it had a double row of shops at the sides and, at the top, a movable boardwalk needed to allow the passage of the taller vessels.

The BridgeOn the right is the 15th century appearance of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, destroyed by a fire in January 1505. Other architectural features include the bell tower of San Giovanni Grisostomo, the portico of Ca’ da Mosto and the bell tower of Santi Apostoli before its reconstruction in 1672. Caterina Cornaro, the lady of In My Lady’s Shadow, is buried there.

There are wonderful human details, such as the private gondolas used as ferries


the presence of numerous foreigners with eastern style garments, women clearing carpets, and workers who are clearing their barrels. A slice of life more than 500 years ago.

220px-Vittore_carpaccio,_miracolo_della_Croce_a_Rialto_03The Ca’ da Mosto is still there today. The features of the palace show its beginnings as a casa-fondaco, the home and workplace of its original merchant owner. A second floor was added at the beginning of the sixteenth century, and a third in the nineteenth. The palace takes its name from the Venetian explorer Alvise da Ca’ da Mosto, who was born in the palace in 1432.

320px-Ca_da_MostoThe present stone bridge, a single span designed by Antonio da Ponte, was finally completed in 1591 and looks quite similar to the wooden bridge it replaced.

Oil of Rialto

Two inclined ramps lead up to a central portico. On either side of the portico, the covered ramps carry rows of shops. We were there a week ago with our visitors, soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful city.

Rialto from Ca Da Mosto


8 thoughts on “Venice Past and Present (Part 1)

  1. Wonderful pictures, Siobhan and interesting info about 15th century Venice. Yes, I read it, didn’t just look at the pics. It hasn’t really changed that much has it? Would love to go again and spend more time lingering! Ann


  2. Siobhan, that was both fascinating and exciting to me. …But i do enjoy research. Seeing the same area through time in different paintings, then the present photograph… that was a delight. Huge hugs!


  3. That’s what I love about Venice, Ann. The history and how much of the past is still here with us in the present. Next time I visit my favourite city, I’ll spend much more time lingering. I keep meaning to just focus on a specific area and get to know that better. My resolution for 2015. 🙂


  4. I read this last night but got called away to something and didn’t get a chance to post. You did so much research for your novel and it shows. Very enjoyable blog, thanks for posting.



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