I suppose we all have our preferable part of Venice which we like better then the other ones. Sestiere di Castello, besides Caneregio, is a part of the town which I like the most. Being away from San Marco and the main vaporetto's lines, it is, more or less, spared of a crowd even in the pick of the season. You wont see lots of fancy palaces here or great many of canals, and yet it is the real soul of Venice the one that lives so characteristic Mediterranean style of life.
Fondest memory: Sestiere di Castello is not touristy area, instead of groups following their guide here you'll meet individuals or couples strolling around and enjoying in pieceful and pitoresque ordinary life. You'll meet alot of local grandmams seating in small piazettas, chating and making lacies. The local bars are occupied by men who play cards, discuss about fotball (soccer) or just sipping glass of wine. It is a kind of Venice I like.
Whilst in Castello it really is worth visiting the Naval History muesum - and considering the amount of displays there are over 5 floors plus the boat storehouse around the corner by Arsenale the entrace fee is ridiculously cheap - 1.5 euros was the grand cost.
Here's a quick summary of whats to see: Please see all the pics.
Ground Floor - artifacts from the second world war, including manned torpedoes invented in Italy.
First Floor - models and other remnants of the shipbuilding trade. The best exhibit is the huge model of a Bucintoro, a ridiculously grand vessel used by the Doge in an annual ceremony in which he would conduct a marriage between the city with the sea with the help of a huge ring.
Second Floor - lagoon craft, including some lovely old historic gondolas
Third floor - a collection of 24 Chinese junks and silk panels
Fourth Floor - northern vessels, Viking craft and a collection of stunning seas-shells - the colours here were mesmerising!
Don't forget to see the view over the rootops to Arsenale from the top floor windows :-0
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:45 am-1:30pm; Saturday 8:45am-1pm
2148 Riva degli Schiavoni, Castello
Favorite thing: It may comes as a surprise but there are green parks in Venice. This is the Giardini in Castello - a shady tree-lined avenue which leads up to Via Garibaldi - shame his staute and fountain at the top is rather folorn but somehow turtles manage to survive in its water! The second pic shows the rather forlorn fountain in the Giardini in Castello. The lion is barely visible now its so overgrown with moss. The turtles seemed happy enough though swimming around in the water a the bottom.
Favorite thing: This is a fairly wide avenue by Venice standards and has several cafes and shops here so a pleasant place to wander. The heat at midday was really boucing off the road though it was really hot and escaping to the nearby Giardini for some shade was a good option. The end of the street leads into a canal and lovely areas of Castello
Favorite thing: A bit further over from Castello area is Isola di Sant' Elena- a little island in itself connected by a bridge to Castello area. Many of Sant'Elena's houses are painted in strong colours, not unlike houses on the fishing and lace making island of Burano. The mostly late 19th and early 20th Century architecture makes Sant'Elena feel more like a small Italian town than a district of Venice--albeit a town that's blessedly free of cars and motor scooters. The Marina and football Stadium are in this area too. Its quite a delightful place to wander around - seeing the local life and boat repair yards here.
Favorite thing: Just a typical view of the Castello area - quiet canals with little bridges - notice the lack of people here! Colourful houses too -almost Burano style at the end of this canal! Wandering around the canals of Castello you could only go so far, canals came to a dead end or the path suddenly stopped at a canal junction. Several towers were nicely reflected too - probably part of the Arsenale complex, and probably why you couldn't go any further - unless by private boat.
Favorite thing: The whole area of Castello was a favourite place to wander around. Its somewhat a neglected area of Venice but its peaceful, residential air with its scenes of laundry hanging across the canals added to its charm. We have spent many a pleasant hour just wandering around here.
Ok so you can't go in but you can at least get a look through into the boat area from near the towers and as you cross over the bridge.
When we visted there was not a lot to see actually - no boats there. There is a small boat museum just as you approach on the right hand side
You get another peep into the arsenale on the opposite side - a quick passing shot on the boat. Used to be able to walk the pathway here but no longer. We just caught sight of some boats to be used for the Storica Regatta in a few days time in Sept 2005 visit.
Favorite thing: Amongst the back alleys of Castello you will suddenly open out into this quiet campo. The church seen here is the Chieas di San Francesco della Vigna - a Franciscan church with a colonaded closister. I like the little tower above it with the 3 bells - nice architectural detail - see other pic.
This is the view of the twin towers of the Arsenal as you approach on the canal path.
Water buses used to navigate through here - but not in recent years. Being a military establishment its not open to the public - virtually everybody walked up tot the gates to be told no enrty - guards must have got really fed up with that. It is possible to ask the Military Authorities for permission to visit though.
No not the football team but Venice's shipyard of old which once employed 16,000 people (called "Arsenalotti") to produce the fleets that sailed the Med. It was justifiably proud of its assembly line production which could construct a galley within hours.
The stone lions guarding the entrance have been 'acquired' from various Greek Islands by Venetian commanders.
Favorite thing: The Ghetto of Venice, called the Ghetto Nuovo, was began in 1516 by the Venetian Republic in the Cannaregio district. It's considered to be the first ghetto in the world.. The word geto comes from the Venetian dialect and means "foundry" (originally there were two iron foundries here where metals were fused). At one time, Venetian Jews were confined to a walled area and obliged to wear red or yellow marks sewn onto their clothing and distinctive-looking hats. The walls that once enclosed and confined the Ghetto were torn down long ago, but much remains of the past.