Joanne took this photo in the late afternoon, after many of the daytrippers had begun their exodus from the city. Hence the almost complete absence of a queue for entry into the Palace, which for most of the day in August would fill every available flagstone beneath this wonderful enclosure with the bustle and frustration of entire phalanxes of Babel-ish conversations and culturally appropriate grimaces.
This area features several times in the novel, and would probably have looked pretty similar then to it's current day appearance (perhaps the flagstones may not yet have been laid). It covers the entrance to that part of the Doges Palace that was under construction from 1340 onwards, so you might well have seen much of the broad portico arches punctuated by ladders and the like to allow access on the masonry above. At the far end of the porticos, just out of sight, is the Rio Del Vin, over which the more recent Bridge of Sighs offers access to the original Venetian prison.
I was surprised to find that the Lion's Mouth's, a definite feature embedded in the facia of the Palace itself at the time of the novel (perhaps positioned under one or more of the window arches that can be seen in the picture), were completely absent. We did, however, find a number of them inside the other, later wings of the Palace. I've shown these in this Tour on Day Nineteen.
This, more than any other building in the city, gave me the most difficulty when writing Malin's story, in trying to separate out how the place is configured today, and what it would have been like in those first few months of 1348. What did the earlier buildings on the site, that had not yet been demolished and rebuilt, look like? Just how cramped was the hall in which the Great Council met every Sunday?
We took advantage of the non-existent queue to spend the rest of the afternoon inside, enjoying the extraordinary interiors yet, in all honesty, I felt a twinge of disappointment to find that amongst the hugely impressive collections of artefacts on display around the building, little to none of them went back much before the late 1500's.