The City of Mestre has made a concerted effort to change its image. Significant infrastructure improvements are visible downtown near the Piazza Ferretto and the new regional park is one of the largest in Europe.
There has also been a significant addition to Mestre's public art. Some of it like on the Via Piave is a little weird, Other examples seem to fit into the landscape quite well. Industries and businesses are willing to make contributions to the public arts because they believe it improves business and instills a sense of pride in the community
The Torre dell Orologio is the oldest surviving building in Mestre. It dates back to the early 12th century and from what I could learn survived the devastation of World War 2. It is located on a far end of the Piazza Ferrretto. Its most striking feature is the large clock in proportion to the rest of the tower. It has been the iconic figure on the piazza for sometime and it is often times the meeting place for couples in Mestre.
When we were there in the early evening the tower was not open to the public. However I understand that is open to the public at select times during the week.
Located adjacent to the Piazza Ferretto, the Galleria Mattteoti was a stunning surprise. Metal decorations on large glass windows joyfully announce your arrival at the galleria. Enclosed in a beautiful glass shell roof the galleria reminds one of the larger galleria in Milan . However this galleria has been in existence since the late 19th century and today houses an assortment of department, jewelry and art stores. Charming flower booths and shops also make it a visually bright experience. It is a joy to walk under the broad glass roof and stare at the clouds. It is a special experience to walk through in the evening when the lights are turned on. I was surprised that there were not more eating places inside because this would be an ideal spot during the winters to sit and relax.
Mestre's Piazza Ferretto is a lovely piazza hidden in the northwestern part of town. The piazza contains some lovely old buildings, a central water feature,, many designer shops, and many restaurants. In addition, there is a lovely old theatre and a belltower.
Adjacent to the piazza the borough of Mestre/Campanado is undergoing some infrastructure improvements including new water and sewer lines. It also appears that the borough plans on making the area available for new commerce.
Parco San Giuliano was a surprise. A very large urban park located just south of the City Center. and to the north is the Liberty Bridge to Venice. The park which is used for passive and active recreation is also used for outdoor concerts. It has great views of the Venice Lagoon.
The Master Plan for park development calls for eventual development of 700 acres. The park can be reached by walking. The first picture below is from Wikipedia.
Like Venice, Mestre has canals too but only a few of them. The town was built along the river of Marzenego, which today is canalized and giving Mestre a very pitoresque look. This on the picture is area where old fish market was situated.
Maybe it isn't as famous as Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, still Galleria Matteotti is attractive and unique as a rare example of such constructions in Veneto. Locals oftenly call it "Toniolo", after its commisioner who also commisioned the theatre right next to gallery. The Gallery Matteotti was built in the beginning of the 19th century and is one of the shopping areas of Mestre.
Mestre has long history and it is integral part of the Venice, in fact it is also called "terraferma" (mainland) of the Venice. No matter of its age Mestre looks alike modern town with predominatelly modern 20th century architecture. Fact is, not much traces from medieval times could be seen around.
San Girolamo is located in the heart of Mestre and is the oldest church in town, built in 1261. The church underwent several changes, especially the front facade which was totally rebuilt in the 17th century with the beautiful Istria stone.
Crucifix in cedar-wood is preserving inside the church and a myth is told about it, when sailors taking it to San Lorenzo's through rio San Girolamo reached site of the church, the boat was inexplicably unable to continue. The Crucifix, it was said, had chosen its resting place and the church was built there.
Provvedoria was built in 1452 and inaugurated as a seat of the Civic Council. The building was devastated in 1513 and reconstructed in 1525. From the beginning of the 19th century the palace was center of the Communal School, while its Room to Advice was used after granary. In 1926 the building was destroyed in fire and after reconstruction it accommodated the Civic Library.
Today it is palazzetto (small palace) with beautiful Romanesque porch and an order of Renaissance windows.
San Lorenzo was built in 1192 and was a property of the Mestrina Community, ancient institute governed by the local noble families (the clergy was only taken care of the religious services). The current church, with neoclassical facade, erected in the beginning of the 19th century, conserving the Romanesque bell tower as the only remaining part of the previous construction.
San Lorenzo is the city cathedral and is situated in the Piazza Ferretto.
In medieval times, as most of the other Italian towns, Mestre was fortified by strong city walls and defending towers, but not much of it survived. Torre dell'Orologio, which dates back to the year 1108, is the only defending tower which survived. It is the most iconic building in Mestre and the real emblem of the town. The tower is situated in the Piazza Feretto and it host...
It really is worth exploring Mestre's historical centre.
The ancient Torre del'Orologio (a watchtower dating from the 1100s) stands guard over Piazza Ferretto and Piazza Matter. It later became part of Mestre's 'Castelnuovo', which had 12 towers...this is the only one remaining. The nearby Palazzo Providerria dates from the 14th century and was originally part of the same castle complex.
Enjoy a wander through the vast Piazza Ferretto, which leads into Piazza Edmondo Matter (where the Torre is). There are lots of cafes and bars with tables outside and I suspect the place is buzzing on summer weekends.
The Duomo (cathedral) ...the church of San Lorenzo...dates form the late 1700s, although there has been a church on the site since the 1100s.
The canalised river passes through Piazza Ferretto. Once there were fishmerchants here, hence the street name 'Via Pescheria Vecchia'.
Walk further on, past the Torre, and you'll come to a series of ancient arcaded buildings (there are lots of arcades in Mestre, to shelter pedestrians from sun and from rain).
There's really quite a lot to see and enjoy in Mestre's historical centre. If you're staying in the town, allow yourself an afternoon, or a summer evening, to explore.
Whilst shopping is not my 'thing' I did notice that Mestre has lots and lots of shops: international chains, shops selling designer clothes, lots of shops selling rather lovely Italian-designed crockery, cutlery, home furnishings....and a lot of small, exclusive shops too.
There's a lovely little square with an ancient wisteria (off Calle Giovanni Legrenzi, I think?) with independent shops, a well and a bar/restaurant. There's a wonderful glass arcade with super-swish shops...the Galleria G Matteotti on Piazza Battisti and, although I did not visit, I know that there is a larger enclosed shopping centre nearby: the Centro Le Barche on Piazetta Coin.
If you walk down Via Piave towards the station you'll find a least two supermarkets (excellent for picnic supplies to save paying Venice prices) and more than one Chinese emporium, with all the cheap and fascinating goods you can imagine (from fake designer bags to silky Chinese dresses to a vast range of 'interesting' ornaments).
Mestre has its proper market in the Piazza Ferretto, but on one of the side-streets off Via Piave, in Piazetta S. Francesco, you will find a tiny market building with fruit and vegetables, a fishmonger and a cheese-seller.
And maybe, if you're lucky, the 'Tutto a 3 euro' shop will still be there, near the junction of Via Piave and Via Miranese. I don't 'do' shopping but even I could not resist buying summer tops and cardigans for 3 euros each! :-)
Although Mestre was bombed in the Second World War, and although its size has increased hugely in recent decades, it still retains some lovely and historical buildings.
Not just in the historical centre itself...you'll find several which clearly date from the late Medieval period...but also along Via Piave (which runs down to the station) and the streets running off it.
I enjoyed discovering the arcades, the large houses of the wealthy from previous centuries, the faded frescoes, the Byzantine-inspired arched windows, the tiny squares...