Campi, Calle and Canali, Venice
Venice is a city on the water, but... how to get potable water?
A very ingenious system collected the rain across filters to large cisterns in the centre of the squares. The water was then drawn up in buckets, under severe hygienic control.
Nowadays the system has been abandoned, but the wells remain, most of them real pieces of art, and all contributing to "tell" the history of the city.
We were very fortunate to have rented an apartment within 100 meters of this wonderful square in Santa Croce. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and soon after we settled in to the apartment, we wandered up to the square to do some food shopping at the Coop there.
We were delighted to find literally dozens of children (mostly littlies) playing soccer and riding their little bikes with trainer wheels and some of the older ones on skates and skateboards all having a great time with their families. Many of the fathers were supervising the games whilst the mothers were chatting and generally "catching up" with each other. There was even a big circle of senior citizens, some in wheelchairs, having a catch up of their own.
My grandchildren couldn't wait to get amongst it all and were made very welcome. We ended up having a meal in one of the cafes there because we had no desire to go away and leave this lovely community of people. When the church bells started to ring before evening Mass, the noise of the children quickly abated and the families either went to church or went home.
Apparently they come out to play most afternoons but Saturday is definitely the big day for them.
It was wonderful to see a small part of how the real Venetians live.
I've read many times of the canals of Venice being dirty and smelling. That may be the experience of some people, but when I was there it was early in the year and I was not aware of anything unpleasant.
It is interesting to walk among the canals and cross the bridges, see the magnificent buildings seemingly rising from the water, many with their own landing stages or posts to moor gondolas.
Venice has a special charm, and it is the canals that make it what it is.
Not having photographs, I will add some impressions here. I was surprised that I could feel the waves splashing under my feet, even though we were walking on streets. I don't know if this was just me, or if others feel the same sensation.
Leaving the rest of the tour group, we just wandered around. We enjoyed watching the glass blowing, watching women making lace, and just wandering in general through side streets, stopping for a cofffee, and seeing the most famous sites.
Piazzas are the happening centers here and there throughout the city. Some have less activity than others. This one was quite busy. I think because it was near the schools for the kids. We noticed various schools for art and music nearby. Also, affordable eating spots and a gelateria!
We rode along the Canale della Giudecca via motor launch to reach Bacino di San Marco and the city centre. We rode along the Canale della Giudecca when the ship departed Venice and this was accompanied by classical musical. There are a lot of interesting buildings that line up the canal.
We arrived and departed from Canale Di San Marco by motor boach launch and approaching the city centre there are the iconic views of Piazza San Marco, Doges Palace and San Marco Campanile. We embarked and disembarked from Riva delgi Schiavoni. The promenade is usually crowded and lined up with expensive souvenir vendors, cafes and ice cream parlours.
Campo Santo Stefano is situated in San Marco district and near Piazza San Marco. This is an open space with a large square and encircled with historic buildings going back a number of centuries. One of the most important buildings is Chiesa di Santo Stefano which is situated at the northern end of the Square and was found in the 1400s.
Camp San Bartolomeo is a square near the Rialto Bridge and Grand Canal. It mainly has shops, cafes and restaurants and this attracts both locals and visitors. We had a coffee in one of the back street cafes from the square and there is San Bartolomeo church.
Venice is known for its islands and canals. The city is built on an archipelgao of 117 islands which are by formed by 117 canals in a shallow lagoon. The islands are connected by over 400 bridges and the canals function as thoroughfare to navigating the city especially in the old town. The public transportation is mainly water boats and water taxis and one doesn't see a car or a bus in the city centre! A causeway makes it possible for Venice to connect to the mainland with the arrival of the railway in the 1800s and there is a park and ride scheme for motorcars and buses.
The canals are popular with the tourist who take gondola rides on them. There are also traghettis that can be seen especially on the Grand Canal. The scheduled transportation are the vaporettis (the motorised waterbuses) which serve on the majors canals and to the surrounding islands.
VAPORETTO - SAN ZACCARIA
Walking to the end of Calle delle Rasse, turn left and you'll find yourself in this 'dog legged' Campo (square).
Apparently the first pizzeria to be established in Venice is located here.
It's a pleasant small square, with a kiosk in the centre, and a well head, surrounded by small hotels, restaurants, bars and shops.
My first sighting was on arrival in Venice, as my hotel Albergo Al Tiepolo was located in the square- just down a narrow alley.
I also ate a few times at Aciugheta (Little Anchovies) which receives good reviews in travel guides etc. Apparently, It's popular with gondoliers, which is a good sign! (Please see my Restaurant tips for more info)
Leading onto the square are C/Degli Albanesi, Salizzada San Provola and C/Drio La Chiesa where a number of bars, cheap snack places etc. can be found.
As my first visit was at Christmas (2006), I saw its character change and become steadily busier after Christmas Day.
UPDATE - In June, it was a lot busier, with tables and chairs spilling into the square as well as kiosks offering souvenirs and chilled drinks - I saw one stall selling slices of coconut, which were cooled by water running over them.
Whereas in December, I could walk through easily, this time I had to negotiate the crowds, stalls and pavement cafes.
After browsing here through 185 reviews I saw that this Campiello (small Campo) had not been commented.
What a pleasure to finally write something about Venice that is not redundant on VT!
Better is the fact that I found info about the palace with that strange sculpture in a niche on the front.
This is the Palazzo Bembo-Boldù and the sculpture is a wild hairy god "Chronos" master of time, or Saturn wearing a sun disk.
We've now left the Merceries and have entered one of Venices liveliest squares, especially at night, due to its restaurants and bars. It appeared to be quite a popular place for those sitting out enjoying the December sun as I passed through. At another visit, there was a market set up here. This is the place that Venetians of all ages come to meet their friends
This Campo is sometimes referred to as the Rialto Bridges courtyard, as it sits nearly at the bridges steps.
A statue of Carlo Goldoni dominates the square, this bronze sculpture (crafted by Antonio del Zotto in 1883) commemorates one of Venices favourite comedians, who lived from 1707 -1793. His comic plays are still popular today, many were claimed to have been inspired by his observations of locals and their conversations that he picked up on his wanderings around Venices streets and cafes.
Backing onto the campo is the church of San Bartolomeo, which was formerly known as 'The German church' and today is often used for exhibitions or musical recitals. Open Tues, Thurs and Sat 1000 - 1200.
At the end of the Campo is The Fondacio dei Tedeschi , which during the 16th Century, was a base for German traders. Today it is Venices main Post Office.
UPDATE Christmas 2009 - The statue has now been restored, and there was a lively atmosphere, with festive market stalls selling all sorts of stuff including hats, perfumes and Christmas goods.
I have found that in Venice if I liked a particular place at one time of the day like morning, it was just as great in the evening or at night and sometimes even better.
Often times the spot had a completely different personality.
So my tip is that if you found a campo, bridge or canal particularly touching revisit at another time of the day.
I found dusk and night to be particularly pleasant.
It is so pleasant to be able to stroll everywhere and not worry about cars and trucks running you over or blasting you with noise and exhaust. Instead, Venice offers peace and serenity in a world of its own, if you know where to look. However, the main square and primary shopping street can be an ordeal of crowds and high-priced shops that could give you a very bad impression, especially if you are only in town for a day, like most visitors. A new collection of travel videos about Venice has useful tips on where to walk to get away from the crowds and find the most authentic, local parts of this magical town: http://tourvideos.com/IT_Venice.html
Visit the calles and campos in Venice. You can get a sense of how the locals live, and you see a completely different Venice.
Don’t be afraid to get lost, because it’s almost impossible that you don’t. But you always get back on track :)
Take a map with you and go discover. Some of the campos (squares) have cheerful street markets and cafes.