The Molo, or waterfront of Piazzetta San Marco, is solid with bobbing gondolas and excursion boats to Murano and beyond. Behind the Zecca and a row of booths offering good prices on plastic light-up gondolas are the Giardinetti Reali, not much as ‘royal’ gardens go, but a rare patch of green (and an even rarer public WC) in the capital of stone and water. Napoleon's step son, Eugène de Beauharnais created it when he knocked down the Fontegheto della Farina, or state granary, to create a view of the lagoon from the Ala Napoleonica. He also added the pretty neoclassical pavilion called the Casino da Caffè (1807), long used as the city tourist information office.
Down the Molo, past the Palazzo Ducale, is the Ponte della Paglia ('straw bridge', named after the loads of straw unloaded here for the garrisons of the Palazzo Ducale and prisons, and the subject of Maurice Prendergast's charming Umbrellas in the Rain), invariably crowded with people all taking selfies of the famous Istrian stone Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) that links the Palazzo with the Prigioni (1560–1614, and suitably grim, at least by Venetian standards). And just across the Ponte della Paglia is the Riva degli Schiavoni.
vaporetto San Marco or San Zaccaria
Images by: PD Art, Gerry Labrijn, Creative Commons License