‘Venice! A magnificent city! A city with an irresistible appeal to the educated, because of its history as well as its present charms.’ Though it is a bit of an elitist point of view from which Thomas Mann praises the north-Italian city in his novel ‘Death in Venice’ in 1912, he hits the nail right on the head. Also for the tourist of the 21st century, Venice has lost nothing of its fascination.

Bond visited this unique city at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea three times, first in 1963 in From Russia With Love. But at that time only some few snapshots of it were used as a background. No real action took place there. This was totally different in 1979. In Moonraker many of Venice’s beauty spots, the world-famous ones and the hidden ones, were featured excellently. In 2006, EON returned to the beautiful city to film the spectacular finale of their reboot entry Casino Royale. Apart from the Bond-sites you will find a multitude of cultural treasures and pieces of evidence of the city’s glorious past. So take your time to appreciate it properly.
The Venetian Carnaval is world famous
In Venice there are about 15,000 buildings, among them 900 palaces and 105 churches. They are all built upon millions of tree-trunks (10 - 30 feet long), which are driven through the soft material into the solid ground of the lagoon. These buildings spread over more than 120 islands. Some 400 bridges span the 177 canals that separate these islands. The 2-mile-long (3 km) Canal Grande, shaped like a huge question mark, divides the city into two parts of almost equal size. Motor traffic is not possible in the narrow, winding alleys. For centuries the gondolas were the most important means of transportation. Today the entire freight and passenger traffic is done by motor boats. The gondolas are now as before a major tourist attraction. Venice has about 307,000 inhabitants.

AD 452 is Venice’s mythical year of foundation. After the Byzantine Emperor Justinianus destroyed the east-Gothic Empire in Italy in 553, Venice came under Byzantine rule. But this was only a pretty loose relation. This status of being practically autonomous, allowed the creation of a republic. In 697 the first Doge (duke), the head of state of the city-state, was elected. In 829 Venetian merchants brought the alleged relicts of the Apostle Mark from Alexandria to Venice. The Holy Mark became patron saint of the city and his symbol, the lion, remained its heraldic coat of arms henceforth.
The first pictures of Venice we see in Moonraker are filmed from the platform on top of the Torre dell’ Orologio (clock-tower) at the northern side of St. Mark’s Square. This Renaissance building with its big, blue astronomical clock plays a certain role later in the film. Supposedly it is accessible for tourists, but most of the time it is closed because of obscure reasons. Bond arrives at the mole near Piazetta di San Marco (small St. Mark’s Square) by Gondola. He goes to the showroom of the glass manufacturer VENINI at Piazetta dei Leoncini (small square of the little lions). VENINI has been one of the best reputed glassmakers of Venice since 1921. They refurbish their showroom every now and then, so it is no longer recognizable. Also the awning is gone.
Bond raced a gondola through the canals of Venice in Moonraker (1979)
In the Canal Grande you can find the sinking palazzo from Casino Royale (2006)
Looking to the east into Rio di Santa Catarina you see the canal out of which the gondola with the lovers comes in Moonraker. To the wall of the house on the left-hand side the fake traffic-lights were fixed. (In reality there are no traffic-lights in any of the canals of Venice.) After the motor boat of Bond’s pursuers had cut the gondola into two pieces, the half with the lovebirds floats into the direction of the bridge upon which you are standing. The major part of the gondola-chase was filmed in another quarter of Venice.

On the way back there is a good opportunity to visit some other locations from Casino Royale. When you're back at the vaporetto-station Ca’ d’ Oro and look to the other side of the Canal Grande you will see the Pesceria, or fish market. This is the building right next to the open air market which is held every day except Sundays. Here at the market and Pesceria, Vesper spotted Gettler when she and Bond sailed into Venice.

Leaving Piazetta di San Marco to the east you enter the elegant promenade Riva degli Schiavoni. From the first bridge you have a very good view of Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) that connects the Doge’s Palace with the Dungeon of Venice. Some footage of this area is used as a background for the final scene in From Russia With Love. The ‘second greatest’ lover of all times (after Bond) Giacomo Casanova (1725 - 1798) crossed the Bridge of Sighs many times, when he was imprisoned in Venice.


This and much more can be found in the chapter
'Venetian Affair' in ON THE TRACKS OF 007

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