Campi, Calle and Canali, Venice
Campo Santa Margherita is among the largest Venice squares along with Campo San Polo and Campo Francesco Morosini, and just after the largest one – Piazza San Marco. It owes its name to the Church Santa Margherita, closed in 1810. Campo Santa Margherita has its present-day form more than 1200 years, as the rivers which had flowed together through the square had been filled in the 9th century.
Early in the morning Campo Santa Margherita is an open-air market. During the rest of the day and often by night too – it is the place with "atmosphere of cheerfulness" produced mainly by the students, as the University is just a few meters away, and on the square itself there are many bars, cafes, beer pubs, restaurants… In general – it is one of the nicest squares in Venice, place full of locals as well as tourists, but never as crowded as Piazza San Marco.
For similar, but somehow diminished and less touristy atmosphere look for Campiello dei Squelini located nearby.
Campo Santa Maria Formosa is certainly one of the more important squares in Venice as well as one of the largest. The three areas of Venice – Castello, Cannaregio, and San Marco converge on it. Approximately equally distant from the Piazza San Marco, San Zanipolo and Ponte Rialto, it is a major confluence of pedestrian routes on the east side of Canal Grande, and one of the most attractive and atmospheric squares in Venice. It is known that the square was definitely formed by the year 1500 and that can be seen in the famous "Plan of Venice", woodcut by Jacopo de Barbari.
The square is dominated by the church of the same name, one of the oldest in the city, rebuilt in the late 15th and the 16th century by the designs of Mauro Codussi. The buildings that border the square are a stunning samples of Venetian architecture, with palaces in a variety of styles from Romanesque to Baroque. Among them are Vitturi Palace, Dona a Santa Maria Formosa Palace, Bembo Malipiero Palace, Priuli Ruzzini Loredan Palace and 16th century Querini Stampalia Palace which houses Fondazione Querini Stampalia – library, museum and gallery.
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.
The church of San Barnabas on Campo San Barnabas was completed with the brick campanile in the 14th century. The small church has a "Holy Family" depiction attributed to Paolo Veronese and a Tiepolo-style ceiling. It is more often associated with fact that impoverished members of the aristocracy lived here in state-provided apartments during the Republic's declining years.
The church and its surroundings has also gained a more recent distinction when it appeared in several films such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or in my favourite, Summertime starring Katherine Hepburn.
If you love the romantic Summer-Venice, you will love also the film Summertime. The story is about a lonely yet lovely American spinster who falls in love with a charming but married Venetian man who shows her that Venice is truly made for lovers.
You should watch this movie before your every trip to Venice, because you meet a Venice as you have never seen it before.
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.
This was actually more enjoyable than walking along the more well known canals and bridges. Take a whole day just to explore the back streets of Venice - yes - they might be very narrow (and at times can seem a little scary), but it's a very nice change to have an entire "street" to yourself to experience what it would be like to actually live here. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes though - and an umbrella just in case, because it's a long walk back to San Marco / or Rialto!
Don't forget to grab your free fold out map of Venice from the Tourism office at the Train Station upon arrival (or for those of you driving there like us, from the ground floor Tourist Office situated next to the multi-level carpark).
Continuing along, we enter Mercerie San Salvador, and Campo San Salvador. This is a busy crossroads.
In the Campo are a few things to look at, either just by a fleeting glance, or stopping to explore the church and surrounding buildings.
At the corner of the street we've just exited, look up and see the iron dragon, holding a glass globe made up of umbrellas or parasols.(pic 2)
The Memorial is to commemorate the aborted revolt of 1848-1849, led by Daniel Manin, against Austrian occupation. 50 years after insurrection, the memorial was placed on this site. (pic 1)
San Salvador church is worth a peep inside, or return to if it is closed.(pic 3)
It was consecrated by Pope Alexander 3rd in 1177. The 1663 facade by Sardi hides some treasures in its interior walls. The building commenced in 1508 by Spavento, which was continued by Tulio Lombardo and Sansovino. It's designed in a plan of 3 domed Greek crosses, placed end to end. This cleverly adheres to the religious orders, decreeing longitudinal spaces for worship, but also pays homage to the centrally planned designs of Byzantium and the Basillica San Marco. The planned design had one fault - it was too dark, but lanterns were added to each of the domes in the 1560's by Scamozzi
Things to see in San Salvatore Titians famous 'Annunciation' painted in 1566, which he signed Fecit, fecit -Painted it, painted it. This is thought to have been written to emphasize his wonder at his continued creativity in his old age!
He also painted the main altarpiece 'Transfiguration'. around 1560. This covers a 14th Century silver reredos, which is exposed each Easter.
A scrap of paper on the rail in front of The Annunciation records the death of Titian on 25th August 1576
The tomb of Caterina Cornaro rests in this church. Born into an eminant Venetian family, she married, becoming the Queen of Cyprus. On her husbands death, she was forced to surrender the island to the Doge (Being of strategic position). The grieving widow, was then led in procession up the Grand Canal, The doge making it appear she had abdicated voluntarily-and offering the town of Asolo as a token of the cities gratitude. She died in 1510. After a heroines funeral at the Apostoli church, her body was later laid to rest in San Salvatore, with the tomb being fitted at the end of the 16th Century.
In front of the main altar is a glass disc, below this is a merchants tomb that was quite recently unearthed. The damaged decoration is by Francesco, the brother of Titian. He was also reponsible for painting the doors of the church organ. For a donation, the caretaker will show you into the sacristy, where there is another example of his work of birds and foliage.
The outside of the church has some faded frescoes in its porchways.(pic 4)
Open 0900 - 1200 and 1500 - 1800 Mon - Sat. Sun - 1600 - 1800.
The phone company office in the corner is the former Monastery of San Salvatores cloisters,designed by Sansovino (open Tues-Sun 1000-1800 Free admission
Next to this is the Scuoladi San Teodoro, which was the last Scuole to be constructed in Venice, in 1530.The facade was added in 1655 by Sardi . The Scuola was a cinema for many years, but now features musical evenings and exhibitions
Strolling around Venice, we find many Campi like this and it was interesting finding out that they were, actually, the basic structural unit of the city.
Going back to the 5th century after the fall of the Roman Empire, invaders' attacks ( Goths, Visigoths, Huns, to mention a few... ) towards Italy's major cities forced people to find refuge at islands in the saltwaters of Adriatic Lagoon.
Along with their prayers for survival, they brought with them no more than their faith, business aknowledge and family ties. With no hope to return home, they started building a new one.
Crossing a small canal ( rio - pl. rii ), finding a field ( campo - pl. campi ) they began to sit the focal points of their lives. Homes ( Casa or Ca' ), a church and a Pozzo ( Well ) in the middle, to collect rain water.
These small communiites sprung up on the islands and by growing and growing they endded up forming the sestieri or neighborhoods. There are six sestieri in Venice; Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, Santa Croce, San Marco and San Polo.
As the city grew, it became unified under an republican government. From unification came organization. Larger canals and bridges were built and many smaller canals were filled in to create paved streets.
The monument of Carlo Goldoni - the venetian writer - on Campo San Bartolomeo.
This is too very nice place for rest in a cafe garden. In centrum there are every time many tourists and.... pigeons. One pigeon perch just when my friend make this foto on head of Goldoni!!!! :)
When you are in Venice you must taste delicious venetian ice cream - gellatti!!
One of my favourite squares in Venice is Campo Santa Margherita, located in the Dorsoduro district. This large square seems to be filled more with locals than tourists.
Most mornings it is home to a produce market, selling the best looking tomatoes in Venice. Lunch time sees it filled with happy diners at the numerous outdoor cafes/restaurants. By night it is a buzz with locals and plenty of students enjoying a drink and some music.
I have stopped by here a few times and have had some fabulous coffee. It is also a great place to relax for a while and do some people watching....perhaps while eating your gelato from the best icecream shop in Venice, Il Doge (see my tip under Restaurants).
As mentioned in my travelogue (with heaps more photos taken at dusk), if you're lucky enough to experience such a breathtaking sunset as we did on our second stay in Venice, quickly jump on a Vaporetto and start taking those photos!
You will find many more beautiful photos (taken at dusk), in the travelogues section....
Some our our sunsets here in Brisbane are very much like this - if I look at the sky then close my eyes, I imagine we're standing in the middle of Venice.........doesn't seem to work though :P
Venice seems to take on a totally different atmoshere at night. We know that when we went (although it was around New Years Eve) in Winter, sometimes you'd turn the corner from a busy "street" and you're met with a deserted "Ponte" and canal - the perfect photo opportunity. The footsteps of the Venezian women in their high heeled shoes echoes off the walls. It's beautiful at night - it would be such a shame to only visit Venice for a day and miss this magical atmosphere!
SAN POLO and SANTA CROCE
Leading off from Ruga Degli Orefici, we come to the Campo of the Church of San Giacoma di Rialto, which is surrounded by Renaissance arcades.
It was a pleasant place to catch a few rays of winter sun, and enjoy the peace. (Many of the day trippers had stopped on the Rialto Bridge, and not ventured this further few metres!)
Also catching the rays was a statue- a granite 'hunchback' residing here since the 16th century! The Gobbo di Rialto, was the 'sanctuary' for criminals who had been made to run naked from Piazzo San Marco, enduring crowds lining the route, who aimed punches at the nee'r do wells, until they reached sanctuary at the feet of the statue.
Orders of the Republic were once issued from behind the Gobbo, to the amassed crowds, simultaneously being announced from the Pietra del Bando, adjacent to San Marco Basillica
UPDATE Christmas 2007- On the 23rd and 24th there were a few market stalls open on the edge of the campo.
Surrounding the campo are a few bars, which were buzzing after dark - A good place to enjoy one of the local wines or a Spritz
Campo dei Mori, which is situated just a foot from the church Madonna dell'Orto, looks like semi-abandoned square. There are number of very strange caryatids all around the square, which protrude from the buildings. Nothing like that you may see in the rest of the town, it is another less known Venice.
SAN POLO and SANTA CROCE
This rectangular Campo was a pleasant place to sit and enjoy a few minutes of Christmas Days sunshine! It is the second largest Square in Venice (after Piazza San Marco)
A few locals were enjoying themselves too, some small boys were playing football, a man was mending a bicycle for some young boys; who were playing on skateboards, while a young girl was walking round with a huge white fluffy cat! (see my other pic) Apparently a plaque on the apse of the church dated 1611 forbids all games or any selling of merchandise - the penalty being prison, galley service or exile!!!
This Campo becomes quite lively in the warmer months, when it becomes an open air cinema. This can seat 2,000, and your 5 euro admission enables viewings of Italian dubbed films.
Traditionally, the square has hosted festivals, markets, fairs, masquarades, Grand Balls, and bull baiting! It was also the place where Lorenzino de' Medici was assassinated in 1548 (he'd killed his cousin Alessandro - The Duke of Florence, and fled to Venice. 2 assassins in the service of Cosimo de' Medici fatally stabbed Lorenzino)
Surrounding the cobbled centre, are a few buildings of interest, besides the church of San Polo, there are some palaces. The red building - Pallazzo Soranzo, is the institute of Chinese Language and Literature, but was originally the home of a Venetian nobleman, who adopted one of the cities most famous characters- Casanova as his son!
Next to this is the Pallazzo Tiepolo. In the NW corner is Palazzo Corner Mocenigo, where Frederick Rolfe lived