The Grand Canal is Venice’s main waterway and is the city’s largest, busiest and of course most spectacular. One way of finding out is by climbing aboard a water bus (vaporetto – Route 1 or 2 from Piazzale Roma or the Railway) and taking a trip as far as St. Mark’s. The outlook is totally unique, both by day and by night. On the banks of the Grand Canal, in fact, rise up the city’s most beautiful and ancient palaces, with their characteristic windows (with two or three lights) and finely decorated facades, which for centuries have reflected the grandeur of Venice’s most influential families. Many of these buildings now house museums like: Ca ‘ Pesaro (Museum of Oriental art); Cà Rezzonico (Museum of 18th-century Venice) and Cà d’Oro (the Giorgio Franchetti Gallery). Cà Vendramin, on the other hand, is home to the well-known Casinò di Venezia (ask at the Hotel Aaron reception desk for the free admission coupon).
The bridges that cross the Grand Canal are only 4, of the more than 400 to be found in Venice. Starting from Piazzale Roma, the terminus for Venice’s buses (Route 2, with a bus stop opposite the Hotel Aaron, runs at 10 minute intervals), the first bridge you come across is the Calatrava Bridge, a glass bridge in a modern style, offering a direct link to Venezia Santa Lucia station. Opposite the station is the Scalzi Bridge, which provides the most direct route for those arriving by train to reach the Rialto area and St Mark’s. Approaching St Mark’s, we come to Venice’s best known and most photographed bridge, the Rialto, followed by the impressive wooden Bridge of the Academy, from which it is possible to take in a spectacular view towards the Basilica of Health (la Salute).