At the end of the Canal Grande with the Punta della Dogana

January paddle

Venice Kayak doesn’t really do many tours in the winter, but we’ve had a few in the last few weeks.

Yesterday’s paddle was on a foggy day, postponed from the day before which was even foggier, so we ended up doing a rather different tour as we couldn’t do some of the open water passages that we otherwise do.

January 6th, Epiphany, is called the Befana here. She’s an old witch who’ll bring gifts to the good children and charcoal to the naughty ones. We spotted her flying over Rio San Giuseppe.

La befana in Rio San Giuseppe

Here we’re in the Bacino San Marco, with the island San Giorgio Maggiore in the background to the left, and you can just glimpse San Marco and the campanile in front of the kayaks.


Rio dei Greci boasts one the leaning towers of Venice. We hardly ever go there as the canal is badly infested by taxis, but there were few yesterday.

Rio dei Greci

The Rio della Canonica, or the Rio di Palazzo, which is just behind the Palazzo Ducale, usually suffers from gondola congestion, but that too was rather quiet yesterday, so we had a chance to paddle under the Bridge of Sighs and even get a few photos.

Under the Bridge of Sighs

Our guide Loretta never loses an opportunity to race a gondola in front of San Marco.

Loretta overtaking a gondola at San Marco

I don’t race much. I’m too slow, so I just enjoy the view.

In front of San Marco

Dodging a few airport shuttles we reach the lower Canal Grande.

At the end of the Canal Grande with the Punta della Dogana

And the Madonna della Salute (there’s supposed to be 1,1 mio tree trunks underneath the foundations).

On the Grand Canal with Madonna della Salute

Here we’re further up the Canal Grande, at the beautiful gothic Palazzo Bernardo from the 15th century.

On the Canal Grande

And in the narrow Rio della Madoneta.

Rio della Madoneta

There was very little traffic in the city, so we only met the occasional gondola on the tour.

Gondola up close

Here we’re in the Rio de la Panada, passing the late 14th century Palazzo Van Axel.

Rio della Panada, Palazzo Van Axel

Passing under the low bridge in front of the monumental entrance to the Arsenale (the ancient Venetian navy docks) is always good fun, but the tide was rather low.

Passing the bridge at the Arsenale

Loretta made it too.

Loretta at the Arsenale gate

The Rio de l’Arsenal is always good a few photos. They sure knew how to make monuments back in those days.

Rio de l'Arsenal

Our guide Loretta kept creeping up in front of the camera.

Loretta in the Rio de l'Arsenal

And again. Here entering the Bacino San Marco, still with a good deal of fog.

Loretta in Bacino San Marco foggy

We continued around the Arsenale with its imposing walls. Close to the eastern end of the Arsenale there’s an old altar in the wall.

Altare in Rio delle Vergine

The church of San Pietro di Castello is the former cathedral of Venice, with the old residence of the patriarch to the right. Here too is one of the learning towers of Venice.

Loretta at San Pietro de Castello

While we cannot enter the Arsenale from the monumental gate, it is easy to paddle in from the Porta da mar, the gate to the sea, with the huge old mast crane.

Entering the Arsenale

The area here is the darsena grande and its where the Serenissima build and maintained the navy the ruled the eastern Mediterranean for centuries.

Inside the Arsenale, darsena grande

The galleandre are covered areas where they could work on the innards of the ships once the hull was floating but for the rigging was mounted.

René inside the Arsenale

The tese were covered areas used for laying up the keel and building the hulls of the ships. Now most are used by companies taking part in the building of the flood gates which should protect the city from excessive flooding (but not from rampant corruption).

René inside the Arsenale

Along the sides of the Arsenale you can still see the rings used to mooring the ships during the different phases of construction.

Lion of San Marco, Arsenale

Leaving the Arsenale through the gate to the sea.

Bacino San Marco on a foggy day

Our base on the Certosa island is under the fog just in front of the paddlers.


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