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Rialto Bridge shrine

This shrine to the Madonna is at the base of the Rialto Bridge, on the San Polo side. She's a bit worse for wear but there are always lots of flowers in front of her.


Rialto Bridge madonna

Venice Explorer has photos of this Madonna (scroll down to bottom right corner) as part of the evidence for their campaign to save Venice from the effects of sulphur created by gas-powered boats. It's pretty incredible to see how much this Madonna has deteriorated since 1976.

They write:

"In these pages we document the state of the stonework - bricks, Istria stone, Verona marble, and generally all of the calcars - of Venice. As will be seen, the assault of sulphur is consuming stones at a rate that allows us no more time for hesitation and speculation as to the effect on the fabric of the city. It is happening before our eyes. Most of the damage is very recent."

I'd be perfectly happy to see Venice without boats with engines. In fact, I have seen it - twice now I've been in Venice on days when the vaporetto drivers were on strike. There were still boats with engines tooling around but only small boats and not that many.

Venice is quiet anyway, compared to cities with cars, but it was quite magical and peaceful on those two days when the main things you heard were the sound of the oars splashing and the gondoliers singing.

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Comments (5)


Annie, your photos are lovely, I had never noticed this shrine.

It really is shocking to see the photos on the Venice Explorer site, stark evidence of just how much she has deteriorated in 32 years. The effects of sulpher and other types of pollution are a scandal.

Sandra, I know. It shocked me too. I thought it was old age (like in centuries) and then I stumbled across that website.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, wonderful photos of the Madonna shrine. I need to look at my photos to see if I happened to take a photo of it. It kind of looks familiar to me.

Thanks for the link to the Venice Explorer. I didn't realize how much damage was being caused to the stones by the gas powered boats. Venice at night when there are few boats running is so peaceful and beautiful. I could just watch the canal and listen to sounds of the water splashing around for hours and not tire of it. I agree with you that it is magical.


Great article and thanks for alerting everyone to this travesty.

I build solar-powered boat in Buffalo, NY. My family and I have taken many solar treks across famous waterways like the Erie and the Rideau Canals.
I would like to inform the Venice authorities of my zero-emission boat which could be used to replace many of the fossil-burners which are destroying the character of the city. Does anyone know who I should contact?

With thanks,

Monte Gisbnorne
Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company


Hi Monte,

You might want to contact the folks at the Venice Explorer website I linked to in my blog article. They are the ones who have a campaign to save Venice from the effects of gas-powered boats. Good luck!

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