Canareggio area, Venice
I came across this building already on my first evening in Venezia, when I took a brief stroll around “my neighbourhood” and was much fascinated by the details I could see in the dim street lights. Next morning, with the sun shining, it looked even better. The pointed arch windows and the sculptures make a great sight, the lovely little lemon trees on the window-board add to it.
Most fascinating and definitely drawing attention is the statue on the left side: a man, holding a round plate with a sun. I didn’t find much background information, only have read that it might be Chronos who manages the time or Saturn with the sun in his hand and that it is one of the most unusual sculptures to find in the city. So if anyone has more information, I would be very much grateful.
The palazzo’s full name is Bembo e Boldù, not to be confused with Palazzo Bembo at Canal Grande (northern bank, close to Ponte Rialto).
It is easy to find – from the entrance of chiesa dei Miracoli just walk west over the little bridge until you arrive at Campiello di Santa Maria Nova. It is the building at the southwestern end of the little campo.
East of Campo dei Mori is a very enchanting and picturesque part of Canaregio as well. Just wander eastward along Fondamenta dei Mori or Fondamenta della Misericordia and you’ll see some very tiny streets branching off northward (almost impossible to pass from a certain girth on, lol). One I found especially lovely – Calle di Zoccolo, as I ended up at the water and – viola – saw one of the old squeros (gondola repair stations; photo 5). This one is still in use, I suppose, but more on a private base. The house was lovely as well, plants growing all over – a magic sight. The bridge in photo 4 is between C. Trevisan and Vecchia and gives a very much picturesque motif with grass growing all over the stones.
A bit more to the north, a big “basin” opens up – Sacca del Misericordia (photos 1-3). Apart from the basin of L’Arsenale, this is the only part of historical Venezia where a basin is “cut” or left in the otherwise straight quays. In the old days, wood was stored here and then brought to the places where it was needed to built. And legends say that witches live here and set out on their brooms in the night. I wasn’t here at night, but can very much imagine how these legends came to live – it is a very strange and serene place, nowadays filled with boats which sway in the water and give the typical noises of clinging metal and gargling water. From here, you have a nice view to San Michele, maybe this is also part of a reason for the witches’ legend.
A bit further south of Campo de Mori, and close to the big shopping Strada Nova are two campi close to each other with interesting churches as well.
Campo and chiesa San Marziale (marziale = martial) are in a very much enchanted little area with very lazy atmosphere around. Cats sleep in front of the houses in the sunshine, hardly any noise at all is in the air (photo 3). Some houses have lovely reliefs embedded in the walls (photo 4; this was at the end of Fondamenta Moro). I especially liked the water well with the partly overgrowing grass (photo 1). The church of San Marziale does not belong to the Chorus Group, thus has different opening hours. While I was there, it was closed, unfortunately. But it must be beautiful inside, given the website of closeby Madonna dell’Orto, which has a section about the artwork in San Marziale. Italian Baroque painter Sebastiano Ricci has painted a marvellous vault here. Interesting to read about his other work in Wikipedia – he also has painted an Assumption for Karlskirche in Vienna.
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 4 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Two bridges to the southwest is campo and chiesa Santa Fosca (not to be confused with Santa Fosca on Torcello!). The church was rebuilt after a fire in 1733 and holds no noticeable treasures, as far as I know. But on the campo is a statue of an important local hero: Paolo Scarpi, priest of Servite Order, humanist and friend of artist Tiziano (17th century), who was the driving force for independence of Venezia from the church (well, Rome and the pope).
One of the reasons that Venezia got so powerful was their extensive trade with the East – spices and silk and all. Surely Marco Polo is the best known Veneziano trader of these days, as he wrote the books about his travels along the silk road. But there have been more traders, one of them being the Mastelli family of Greek origin (they came from Morea – Medieval name of what we call Peleponnes today, thus the name “Mori”). Three traders of the family are immortalised in the façade: Rioba, Sandi and Afani Mastelli (photo 5 – all of them). I don’t know which one is Sandi and Afani (in photos 2 and 4), but Rioba is the one you’ll recognise immediately when you approach this house: he is the one with the iron nose. It is said that this was the place where Venezianos could put their complaints about the republic. Obviously, some people were not satisfied with laws and events those days – at a point in time, Rioba must have been beheaded and punched in his nose. The nose is gone, replaced with an iron one, and his head is hold in place by some iron struttings.
There is a fourth statue right hand side of Rioba (photo 1). First I thought it would belong to Tintoretto’s house, but then I have read that it seems to be one of the loyal servants of the Mastelli family.
I have read that they all were colourfully painted in the past. The paint is faded by now, but the stone carvings are still there.
On the back side of the Palazzo Mastelli must be a beautiful relief with a camel, also showing their power in trading with the East. I did miss it, but Sandy found it :-)
In addition to Canale di Canaregio, 3 other smaller canales run parallel to each other in a more or less east-west direction. Of these, Fondamenta della Misericordia is nice to stroll along. Many bars and restaurants line up here, and having a seat and sipping prosecco or Spritz is a lovely pastime. Prices are reasonable – as this area is not yet overflown with tourists.
Walking west and then turn north would bring you to Campo dei Mori, Tintoretto’s house and Madonna dell’Orto (next 3 tips). Walking south will bring you to Campo Marziale and Santa Fosca (4th tip down) and back to Strada Nova if you like. Walking east and then turn north will bring you to a very enchanted part of Canaregio with an old gondola dock (5th tip from here) and walking straight east will bring you to the famous bridge without parapets (6th tip from here) and further on in Canaregio’s east.
Even if you don’t have the time to stroll through Canaregio’s backstreets, a tour with vaporetto No. 41/42 or 51/52 will give you an idea of the lightness that lies over this area. These boats go along the Canale di Canaregio, which is the biggest canale of the city (well, apart from Canal Grande of course). As soon as the boat turns into the canale, the first bridge is already a nice view: Ponte delle Guglie (photo 3). The name derives from the four obeliscs in each corner (la guglia – spire). Note also the many grimacing stoneheads on the bridge’s side. The boat has a stop here, so you can easily hop off, wander around and take the next boat to continue driving along the canal. This would also be the boat stop if you want to visit Venezia’s Ghetto (see what Sandy and Christine wrote about the Ghetto area). The next stop is at Ponte dei Tre Archi (photo 1) – the only bridge in Venezia with 3 arches. In late afternoon it also makes up for good photos.
From here, you can either continue your trip on the boat around the northwest of Canaregio (although it is not the most beautiful area, quite rugged in fact) or back to Canal Grande. On the other hand, the next boat stop will be St. Alvise or Madonna dell’Orto, which saves some walking, if you intend to visit these churches.
To follow my walks, you should take the boat back into Canal Grande and get off at Ca D’Oro and then into Strada Nova (westwards).
As I already said before, I write about my tours through Venezia not for the ones who plant to visit the city once and race through the neuralgic spots, but for those of you who take their time, want to see more of the charming spots and intend to come back one day. Or simply for those who want to read about the many treasures La Serenissima holds.
I start with sestiere Canaregio and add the sestiere’s sights here, independently if they are campos, churches or bridges. For an overview of some walks around this part of Venezia, I made a screenshot of GoogleMaps and marked the walks or boat tours blue. In addition, I made screenshots of details via GoogleEarth; arrows mark the sights that are closer together – to give you an idea how far they are from each other.
Canaregio is one of my two favourite sestiere. As many locals live here, it has a very much vivid atmosphere, the shops, bars and restaurants are frequented mostly by locals, unless the occasional visitor ends up here. This makes the price levels way lower than in the neuralgic areas of course. I only wish that it will keep this way, and that Canaregio won’t suffer a fate like San Marco and San Polo, where a lot of the famous locals’ shops are gone now, replaced by just another crappy souvenir shop with stuff Made in China.
The Cannaregio district of Venice is a nice area for a walk when you've had enough of the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas. It's mainly residential and you can enjoy walking along the quiet canal paths. There are some impressive churches, beautiful buildings and some small hotels where you can stop for a coffee.
Also in the region is the interesting Jewish Ghetto, which has a history dating back centuries.
We initially went to Cannaregio to go to the Jewish Ghetto but we found ourselves sitting on a park bench along the canal watching the locals and the boats. It was so peaceful. We were fascinated by the old buildings. We tried to decide if the newer appearing buildings were just new facades or if they were truly new. My husband got a kick out of the boats. Being the jon boat king, of our neighborhood, he rated each engine as it started. "See. listen to his engine! Mine shuld sound like that!" And he drooled over a diesel engine. A quiet moment like this was such a sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas that it felt like we were in a time warp.
After a snack, we wandered until we found the old Jewish campo. There were probably 30+ people wandering around the campo. Along one wall of the campo there is a memorial to the 44 men and women who were taken during the war by the Nazis. The bas relief plaques nearby depicting the atrocities were heart breaking. We found the Jewish center and went on the tour. The tour was really good. The tour guide spoke excellent English and we saw the inside of the original temples, which are not open to the general public. From the outside the temples look like any other building because they did not want to attract any undue attention from the ruling Christians. On the inside they were decorative but no photographs are allowed.
One point of interest, look for the tall buildings. The original settlers could not expand outward so their buildings expanded upwards. We saw some buildings 7 stories high.
After spending an aftenoon wandering through this area we decided if we did not stay in Dorsoduro we would choose Cannaregio.
Yes, Cannaregio is the home of the "Jewish Ghetto" in Venice. But it is much more. It is one of the few places in Venice where you can see Venetians living and working. Here you will find familys dining at restaurants, non-tourist shops and markets. It is a much less frenzied part of town.
For those wanting to check out the ghetto, Canareggio is home to five synagogues: the Canton Synagogue, the Italian Synagogue, the German Synagogue, the Levantine Synagogue and the Spanish Synagogue.
As for the history: The Venice Ghetto was the first to be set up in Europe and was founded in 1516. The Venetian Jews had to live inside the area bordered by the Ghetto Bridge, and could not leave the area from dusk until dawn. Guards were placed at the Ghetto boundaries to control the Jews’ movements and the Ghetto was closed at night with gates. The hinges of those gates can still be seen today. The word “ghetto” comes from the word “getto”, the noun coming from the Italian verb “gettare”. It refers to the foundary work that had been found in this area of town.
Other interesting sights in this area include Madonna dell’ Orto Church, Gesuiti Church, and Ca d’ Oro. Madonna dell’ Orto is known for its Tintoretto paintings as well as a statue of The Virgin Mary, which is said to have miraculous powers. Gesuiti, as it is referred to in Venice, is the first monastery of the Jesuits established in this region. Its facade is covered in green and white limestone. Ca’ d’ Oro, or Pallazzo Labia, faces the Grand Canale and is known for its spectacular façade which is adorned with gold leaf, vermillion, and ultramarine. Within you can find paintings and carvings by greats such as Titian, Bellini, and Lombardo.
We were lucky enough to stay in this area of Venice, its beautiful. There is so much in this area, quiet Campos and the Ghetto are all here.
The main road from the train/bus station to St.Marks runs through here, but it is still considerably cheaper than San Marco area.
It felt as though people actually lived here! (compared to San Marco), and we visited local supermarkets and bakeries.
Its a great area to chill out and wander in!
This takes its name from the Palazzo Mastelli where a family of rich merchants from the Peloponnese lived. They are represented by the four turbaned figures on the walls of the campo. This is the first.
Near Madonna del Orto is the house of the great painter. It is only a short distance from where he was buried. a memorial plaque is above the door.
The house is still used for occasional exhibitions and lectures.
In 1516 an enclosed neighborhood for Jews was created, called the Jewish Ghetto. The word „ghetto“ did not have the negative connotation it has today. At the time it was quite common for foreign merchants to be housed in a separate quarter, e.g. the German and Turkish merchants lived in separate quarters.
This is the home of the four brothers. It is known as the camel palace becuase of this relief on the canal facade. It is a palace worth seeing as the mix of architectural touches is wonderful.