A great way to get to know Venice is by taking one of the many boat tours offered. The hotel you stay at can hook you up or if you buy a packaged tour they will probably include one. This is a great way to get an introduction to Venice. You get to see the beautiful colors, people, customs, transportation, etc. Here are a few pictures from our boat cruise.
A campo is the center of a neighborhood in Venezia. Community life has centered around them for at least 700 years. They are like village squares in every respect. Each campo contains an apozzo ( cistern ) like the one shown in this photo. Unfortunately people had left trash there the night before, which would soon be cleaned up by the proud and tidy residents o Venezia. The apozzo collects rainwater that falls from the roofs, and supplies the residents with a less than clean supply of fresh water. Wells are of no use in Venezia because they would supply only saltwater from the lagoon.
A chiesa ( church ) sits at the front of each campo, although many have been converted to theaters or recreational centers. Bottegas ( shops ) with living quarters on the upper floors surround the campo. There are more than 100 campi spread more or less uniformly around Venezia. This one is just across Canale Grande from Sn Lucia train station.
Notice the colorful buildings with their interesting collection of chimneys from every period. Neighborhoods are crowded. People dry their laundry wherever at every available location.
Tips on how to explore Venezia without getting lost to be found in my Venezia introductory page.
This bustling campo was a place I passed through many times, as it was near my hotel - Locanda Nova.
I was quite pleased to recognise it from my previous vist, when I had been amused by 3 shops located together - A funeral parlour, Dog Shop and Pizzeria/ Kebab cafe - Was there a connection?
This campo was one of the first of the Rialtos islets to be colonized. Venice originated from this area, and expanded outwards, as inhabitants from Torcello escaped the malaria infested island. The Church of Santi Apostoli began construction around this time. (1000 AD), and its commercial centre began.
Cannaregios' name may have derived from the Italian word canne meaning canes or reeds, as these grew on the marshy mud flats. Although there is also thought that it originated from the Canal Regio or Royal Canal, the main gateway to the city from the mainland prior to the railway being constructed.
During the daytime, there were a few market stalls, (some selling Christmas goods) and souvenir stands. This is a busy thoroughfare from the Rialto Bridge to San Lucia Station.
Opposite the church, above the bridge crossing the canal - (Rio dei San Apostoli) is a popular hotel - The Hotel Antico Doge. This was originally the Pallazo Falier- home to the 55th Doge of Venice - Marin Falier, who at the age of 76, unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the senate. He was beheaded, and declared 'Damnatic Menoriae'
An interesting article about the Doge, his life and death can be viewed on the hotels website Click
To be continued...
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.
Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, also known as San Zanipolo, as Zani and Polo are Venetian dialect form of names Giovanni and Paolo, is one of the most beautiful Venetian squares. It is located in Castello area and it well known for Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Scuola Grande di San Marco and Equestrian Monument of Bartolomeo Colleoni.
Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo is outstanding example of Italian Gothic architecture.
Scuola Grande di San Marco, decorated by Pietro Lombardo and Mauro Codussi is a masterpiece of early Renaissance architecture.
Andrea Verrocchio's Renaissance Equestrian Monument of Bartolomeo Colleoni is one of the greateest sculptural achievements of its time.
Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo is one of the most prominent tourist places in Venice.
I don't know where was everybody , but after we arrived and found our accommodation ,somewhere after 23h ,we ventured to explore the city to get some orientation. Which of course is impossible as we figured out later. Walking through the deserted streets and crossing squares and canals of green smelly water , seeing from time to time a masked couple , like the one of a Noble lady and her servant, bearing ostrich feathers over her head,rushing somewhere to a secret masques party, we figured out we were lost. Which didn't really matter as the atmosphere was incredible and going to sleep was an option only when we were tired to death. So after walking here and there , we arrived somehow to the Rialto Bridge , and only after we crossed it I realized we were getting close to our hotel. As we arrived at the hotel by miracle ,somewhere around 2-3 am , we had to wake up the owner to let us in as the hotel doors were locked after 1h.
As the cam I had back at the time was no good for night photos , I am using here the pics that Joro took with his phone...
This campo is surrounded by residential properties, but it has a few interesting sights in it and nearby.
Firstly, the 4 comic statues that face out from the building on the corner near the bridge. These are believed to be Rioba, Sandi and Afani Mastelli - 3 brothers from the Peloponnese (The Morea), who took refuge in Venice in 1112. Originally silk merchants, they built the nearby Palazzo Mastelli - on Fondamente Gasparo Contarini, recognised by its camel bas relief plaque. It's not certain whether they earned their nickname Dei Mori - The Moors, due to their place of birth, or from their trading connections with The East. The 4th statue on the corner of the building is Sior Antonio Rioba - ( identifiable with a metal nose - this was added in the 19th century) Rioba was the focus for malicious fun and satire
2 of the brothers statues face into the campo, and 1 faces onto Fondamente dei Mori - it stands on an old roman altar on the facade of number 3399 Fondamenti dei Mori. Here Jacopo Robusti - better known as the artist Tintoretto, lived from 1574 until his death in 1594. A plaque of Tintoretto can be seen on the wall. (click onto my other pics to see)
In the campo is also a plaque to the 14 victims of an Austrian zeppelin attack in 1917.
By the Mori is a kiosk, that serves cold drinks- there are a few seats under parasols.
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
Vaporetto - Ca' Rezzonico or San Basilio
I first found this Campo during my visit in December 2006, and found it to be quite interesting, with quite a few quirky features.
The square is Dorsoduros morning market place, it is especially noted for its fish stalls that sell live eels and lobster- a couple of these stalls were just closing, during my December 2007 visit.
As well as the market, the square is a popular place for students from the nearby University to hang out. There are a few bars situated around the square, along with a pharmacy, Herbalist - erborista, that sells alternative medicine and a bakery, which is reputed to sell the best bread in Venice.
Buildings surrounding the elongated square date back to the 14th and 15th century.
The church, hasn't held services since Napoleons rule, it is now owned by the University, previously it was a cinema. The church has some interesting features, which I'll cover in a later tip.
At the South end of the square- (Opposite end to the Church) , is a detatched building, with a bas relief - This is the Scuola dei Varoti, or Scuola of The Tanners- The plaster relief depicts the Madonna della Misericordia protecting the Tanners, within her mantle (see picture below)
Visit the Campo Santa Margherita.......in the Dosoduro section......sit on a bench....look up and check for birds that drop gifts......or you may get hit.....then relax and take in the real Venice.....there is a wonderful gelato store .....a fun pizza take out......a few restaurants to sit outside .....one is a pizza restaurant with an unbelievable pizza selection of pages and pages of choices-next to the Irish pub.......it was really yummy.......there was even a small antique outdoor market there when we visited.......
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
We've already established you need to see San Marco and that surrounding area, but the most enjoyable time will be when you get up early and go in the opposite direction and find the other less visited areas. There are countless small calles, canals and campos to explore. I'll admit I had a really good map (Roughguide) beforehand, and I did use it somewhat. But if you don't have anywhere specific to be at any given time...just walk around, and around , and around. I passed some places more than once (and probably took the same picture), but how nice it is to be wandering around without other people constantly in your viewfinder.
Grand Canal is the main and the most beautiful “water street” in the Venice. It is long about 4 km. Just take Vaporetto or waterbus and drive from the Piazza Roma to the Piazza San Marco. You will see many great old places and each stop offer many amazing and magnificent palaces and churches. The vaporetto No. 1 from the Piazza Roma to Piazza Marco is the slowest one and you will have a good look to see the entire canal in one ride.
For our cuppuccino we ended up at the sunny and pleasant Campo Santo Stefano, which is trully ideal for a morning or afternoon coffee. This square is also the second largest in Venice, after Piazza San Marco and is lined with small cafes and shops. Historically, the "Corsa al Toro" bullfights used to be staged here, untill the stands collapsed in 1802.
While sitting in the sun we overviewed Campo Santo Stefano and we immediatelly saw the amazing Chiesa di Santo Stefano (Church of Santo Stefano). We had already read that it houses burial monuments of some of Venice's most illustrious citizens. Time to explore! The church is built in the 13th century and has been restored several times. The present appearance is a result of 2 major renovations in the 15th and 20th century. Once inside we were curious what tombs to find and we noted the one of the last commander in chief of the republic. Further more we enjoyed the paintings by Tintoretto.
After our visit to Campo Santo Stefano we hiked our way up to Campo San Luco. In and around this campo we found numerous bookstores with a wealth of high quality literature on every conceivable aspect of Venice and its rich history. A day well spent!
Sestiere of San Marco.
Western of Piazza San Marco – a 1 minute walk.
Like we already said, the sights of the sestiere of San Marco are not confined to Piazza San Marco itself. This particular district is every much a labyrinth of narrow alleyways, canals and enchanting bridges tha encircle the wide-open spaces of several squares. Because of the masses of tourists it's difficult, but we were able to escape.
Hidden away in the back-streets of San Marco is the very famous Teatro la Fenice opera house that was recently opened last December after a devastating fire some 10 years earlier. La Fenice in Venice has always been renowned as one of the world's most beautiful opera houses. We were not able to enter it, but had a nice conversation with the hall-porter. He told us that the opera house opened in 1792, but burnt down and was rebuilt in 1836. A century later it needed and received restoration but burnt down again in a terrible fire of January 1996. The reconstruction took way too long, because of some mismanagement, bu thankfully, all is now well and the Venice's opera house has risen once more. It's great that this historical building has remained, because (for example) it is the place that presented most of Verdi's premieres.
After this historical chat it was about time for us for a nice cup of cuppacino.
Sestiere of San Marco.
Western of Piazza San Marco – a 1 minute walk.