Venice, La Serenissima, Queen of the Adriatic, city of masks and love. Venice, today for many only the city of the romantic gondola ride over the Canal Grande.
But Venice is much more than a distortion of its great past. The truth about this city lies in the stories that entwine around it, and not least in the water-flooded architecture of its hundred islands, over which its bridges span nightmarishly.
One of the most beautiful, and certainly the most famous, is the Rialto Bridge, built between 1588 and 1591, which connects the Sestieri San Marco and San Polo.
Its architect was Antonio da Ponte, aptly known as Antonius of the Bridge, who built it according to designs by Giovanni Alvise Boldù.
He prevailed over such important figures as Michelangelo, Andrea Palladio and Jacopo Sansovino, who also submitted their plans but were unable to convince the Senate.
According to his ideas, a bridge with a single segmental arch was realized, which enabled a rapid flow of traffic on the busy Canal Grande, which would not have been possible with the other designs, which all emanated from several arches.
The difficulties of constructing this new construction meant that many legends surrounded it from the outset. One of them is the story of how their builder made a pact with the devil to complete the building.
Because already when the bridge was built, he seemed to have its hands in the game. Again and again the construction collapsed and delayed its completion indefinitely.
But Antonio da Ponte, determined not to be stopped, met the devil at night and promised him the first soul to cross the bridge.
In silence he had the plan to let a rooster walk over the finished bridge and thus to cheat the devil for his wages. For this purpose he set up guards on both sides of the bridge and ordered them to deny access to any human soul.
But the devil got wind of the matter, went disguised to the master builder’s pregnant wife and told her that her husband was waiting for her on the bridge. Quickly she threw on her clothes and set off in the dark of night.
The guards recognized the master builder’s wife, believed her words and let her pass.
So the devil came to his reward and Antonio da Ponte to his bridge.
Today, the Rialto Bridge is the main attraction for countless tourists from all over the world, who weave their own little dreams into the web of the most beautiful city on the Adriatic, Venice, La Serenissima.