The Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is one of the most beautiful and famous waterways in the world, and it is also the main waterway of Venice. It crosses the city dividing it into two part, each divided into three districts (in venetian sestieri). The Canal is 2.4mi long and it is spanned by 4 bridges: Ponte dell’Accademia, Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge), Ponte degli Scalzi and Ponte della Costituzione (known also as Calatrava Bridge). The Grand Canal is 98 to 295ft wide with an average depth of 16ft. It is affectionately called by the venetians Canalazzo.

The Gran Canal is always terribly busy, as there are many waterbuses (in venetian vaporetti), motorboats, water taxis, gondolas etc. Being the major arterial route, the wave motion here creates a serious problem, as it erodes the foundations of the beautiful palazzos on it. The Grand Canal is known for the beautiful scenery it offers at every corner: 200 historic buildings and 15 churches line the Canal, preserving the history of the city.

The Grand Canal owes its magnificence to the palazzos and churches that surround it. Among the most important buildings you can find Fontego dei Turchi and Fontego dei Tedeschi, which in the past were two important trade areas of the city. Then there is palazzo Ca’ Foscari, nowadays housing the University of Venice. Important figures of the past stayed for a while in some palazzos on the Canal, for example the famous poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, who lived in Casetta Rossa for 7 months, where he wrote the poem Notturno. Some of the palazzos are linked to legends, for example Ca’ Dario, which is said to be cursed: every owner of the palace always had the same tragic end, some were brutally killed, others committed suicide or died in mysterious circumstances.

There are different ways to visit the Grand Canal, the most economical is by vaporetto, the most common mean of transport in Venice. Line 1 and 2 navigate it entirely: line 1 makes all the stops along the canal, while line 2 is faster and makes only 7 stops. A more traditional way to visit the Grand Canal, but also more expensive, is by gondola!

The best moment to immerse into the tradition of the city and see the immense beauty of the Grand Canal is on the day of Regata Storica. Every year the first Sunday of September many historical boats parade on the Grand Canal, followed by a rowing competition. This is a reconstruction of the tradition of one of the most powerful and influential Maritime Republics of the entire Mediterranean Sea.