In the meantime, since I've just written about two books set in Venice here, I thought I'd leave you with some photos of this ancient and powerful city.
Venice became an imperial power after the Fourth Crusade and the sack of Constantinople. Because Constantinople was still a Christian city, Pope Innocent III excommunicated the army. He quickly reconsidered and reversed the order. Notwithstanding the Crusades, Venice had significant trade with the Byzantine Empire and
by the end of the 13th century, Venice was the most prosperous city in Europe.
For over a thousand years, the most powerful man in Venice was the Doge. Loosely translated as 'Duke', the Doge was not what we traditionally consider a Duke. The position was elected and non-hereditary. Despite his considerable powers (or perhaps because of them), once confirmed in his position, the Doge was restricted to the environs of the Doge's Palace and St. Mark's Basilica with only the odd diplomatic foray.
after sentencing, would be escorted across the bridge to the prison on the right.
Construction of the limestone bridge began in 1600 (so it didn't actually exist in 1299, the time period The Serpent of Venice is set) and completed two years later to connect the Doge's Interrogation Rooms and the Old Prison with the New.
The 'Sighs' in the name is attributed to two possible sources: the hapless prisoner looking out the two windows on the bride at his last glimpse of the outside world and the legend that if two lovers kiss while drifting under the bridge in a gondola at sunset, they will enjoy eternal love.
One of the key roles of the Doge was that of Chief Magistrate. The accused would appear before the Doge and the Council in the Doge's Palace (left hand side in the photo below) and,