Early Morning Life Along the Grand Canal

Morning Preparations – © Jed Smith

Be an early riser to witness a workman’s life along Venice’s Grand Canal

A self-imposed photo assignment, earlier this year, took me to Venice, and required I be up at the crack of dawn. Timing was essential to capture the energy of Venice’s main artery coming to life while not being obscured by massive swarms of tourists. Believe me, as much as I wanted to sleep yet another hour, capturing the morning light, and the workmen starting their day, was well worth it. Imagine the main thoroughfare in your city and the garbage trucks starting their rounds, and delivery trucks heading to their destinations. Then, transpose this to the complexities of a city on water, and you begin to get the picture.

I witness a reverence, and a sense of meditation and focus, as these people begin their workday.

I hope you’ll experience, as you look through these carefully chosen images, the same energy I felt as a witness to a foundational part of Venetian life – one that many visitors don’t get to experience, or appreciate fully. These are hardworking folks, and life on the Grand Canal requires a sturdy constitution.

And, then, alongside the Grand Canal you can experience a host of stores and services starting the day. Think pastry makers (for the delicious sweets and breads you’ll be eating later), bar/cafés (helping caffeinate workmen and early commuters), and Venice’s lively Rialto Fish Market.

As a photographer and photo journalist, this kind of setting is paradise.

I am repeatedly drawn to the life and texture of simple, hard work. Glamour and glitz can make for powerful imagery, but for the most part, I’ll leave that to other photographers who excel in telling those kinds of stories.

Now, I’ll shut up and let the images speak for themselves. And, if you’re interested, be sure to check out my online gallery of photos.


Grand Canal, Venice

Pastry Making- © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

An Early Commute – © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

Trash Collection – © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

The Fish Market Comes to Life – © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

Bundled Up, and Heading Out – © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

Heavy Lifting and Hauling – © 2017 Jed Smith


Grand Canal, Venice

Let the Workday Begin – © 2017 Jed Smith

By |2019-01-27T08:38:27+01:00May 17th, 2017|A Romance with Venice, Black & White, Exploring the Veneto|12 Comments

About the Author:

I’m an American expat living in Italy!


  1. Leigh McLaughlin May 18, 2017 at 2:43 am - Reply

    love these pictures, especially being in black and white. Thanks, Leigh

    • Jed May 18, 2017 at 9:59 am - Reply

      Grazie Leigh! I appreciate the encouragement. 🙂

  2. elizabeth wholey May 17, 2017 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Always such a pleasure to get your posts, Jed. With this one I was transported back a few years when I stayed at a hotel on the Grand Canal. I loved those quiet, early mornings, seeing Venice come alive.

    • Jed May 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      Always a pleasure hearing from you dear Elizabeth! I’m glad I could “take you back in time”!

  3. Peige Rosales May 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Hi Jed,
    I just love these photos… you leave me longing for more! The early morning is my favorite time in Venice, too. There is even another layer of every-day magic laid over the fariy-land that is this beautiful city. No matter what time of year, watching Venice come alive is a real joy.

    Thanks for this installment,

    • Jed May 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Peige, I’m so pleased you like the images, and that you’ve experienced the early morning life and energy! I plan to head back for more, exploring other neighborhoods. Venice sure does have boundless opportunity in this regard! Jed

  4. Gloria May 17, 2017 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Wonderful capturing the real working world of Venice. It should be required “looking” for anyone visiting a foreign place…revelations of how the place ticks. Cool focus and great shots.

    • Jed May 17, 2017 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      You’re very kind Gloria! I always enjoy getting into the “grout” of a particular place, and capturing it in photography!

  5. Nancy May 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Those folks look cold! And I’ve always been infinantly fascinated with all the “normal” goings on in cities that all have to happen on the water in Venice. Thanks Jed!

    • Jed May 17, 2017 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      Thanks Nancy. Yes, it was a cold morning! By the way, I loved your recent images on your post. You’re certainly enjoying your new camera, aren’t you? Baci!

  6. Joee Balestrieri May 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    Salve Jed,

    I visited Venice last spring and I stayed in a lovely hotel (Locanda Vivaldi) on the Grand Canal. I saw, with my own eyes, everything that you described! I saw a boat with gigantic bottles of wine delivering to the restaurants, the boats that came to the back of the hotels to pick up dirty linens while dropping off clean ones, the garbage boats and the water buses and taxis were busy coming and going. This all happened in the very early morning hours when most people were still asleep. It was amazing to see this part of life in a city that is, for lack of a better term, floating in water. I love your posts! Grazie mille e buona giornata!

    • Jed May 17, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

      Good to hear from you Joee! And, I’m delighted to know you’ve experienced, first hand, what this post is all about. Amazing stuff, and sadly it’s missed by many people who have their heads pointed almost exclusively in the direction of the well-worn tourist attractions (not that they aren’t worthy as well). Seeing how a city on water functions is endlessly fascinating to me! Best, Jed

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