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What was the 100 Venice Bridges Challenge?

Cross one hundred bridges in Venice in one day!

While planning a trip through Europe in early 2013, I had the idea of getting to know the bridges of Venice a little better by seeing how many of them I could cross in one day. Being a photographer, I could photograph each bridge, and from those compile a portfolio collection to show their diversity and interestingness. Could be fun!

This idea evolved into the '100 Venice Bridges Challenge' a project whereby I'd walk across one hundred bridges on one day, taking photographs and doing write-ups along the way. Afterwards I'd write everything up, edit the photos into some sort of storyline, and publish it as a book.

At the outset I had no idea whether I'd be able to walk across one hundred bridges in one day. I didn't know how long it would take, or whether there are enough bridges to justify a really interesting book. I really was only going in on a hunch.

The original planned route followed a winding path starting at the tail end of Venice (look at a map and you'll see Venice is fish-shaped) and ending close to the head of the fish, facing the lagoon train bridge. It included about 116 bridges, to allow for last-minute changes and adaptions if necessary.

The bridges were chosen on the grounds of importance firstly, so included all the major sightseeing bridges. Secondly the route was designed to include bridges on the coastline of the island as well as inland canal bridges, bridges of all types and sizes, and bridges both along popular tourist routes as well as some situated in out-of-the-way areas.

I calculated that in order to go past one hundred bridges in the space of about twelve hours I'd have to spend no more than ten minutes or so at each bridge. It means I'd have to pace myself very well, or else fall behind and risk not finishing.

It was going to be a tough assignment!

Once in Venice, on the day before the Challenge I rode the vaporetto over to Venice early in the morning to do a few camera tests and generally check out some random bridges to get a feel for what to expect on the day.   After an hour or two of photographing bridges and watching early morning life go by, it dawned on me that the bridges were much less relics of the past than part of the present-day life of Venice. The stories I picked up were more to do with the scenery and the people of the city in the moment, than historical details. I made a mental note to look carefully at this angle of capturing life on the bridges at it is, not just as it were many years ago.

To cut a long story short, and you'll read from the unfolding story of the bridges on this blog and in the soon-to-be-released e-book, the Challenge day was a success, with one hundred bridges visited and recorded in the space of just over fourteen hours, as planned. Apart from a few blisters, sore muscles and a light case of sunburn we came through it unscathed. And we have the evidence to proved it.

Would I do it again? Most definitely! There are another three hundred-odd bridges just waiting to be crossed. Just watch this space. Keep an eye on the blog, and on the Challenge Facebook page.

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