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The Sestiere Dorsoduro
Dorsoduro was undoubtedly my favourite sestiere to just wander about in. It was so much quieter and less rushed than other areas and it seemed that as you turn every corner you would be greeted by the sight of another pretty little canal, or a shaded tranquil square, or a picturesque little footbridge. Then of course there's always the wonderful views from Zattere on the southern waterfront of this district across to the island of Giudecca. It's a great place to wander around as you make your way between some of the sights of the area such as the church of Santa Maria della Salute, the Academia Gallery and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
See how gondolas are made at Squero di San Trovaso
Three hundred years go, back when it was the city's main means of transportation, it's estimated that there were about 10,000 gondolas in Venice. Today, there are less than 500 gondolas left in the city and most of them cater to the tourist industry. There's only one "gondola yard" left in Venice and it's located at Squero di San Trovaso, in the Dorsoduro area. Although group visits can be arranged, the yard is usually closed to visitors; however, you can get a pretty good view from across the small canal on Fondamenta Maravegie. It takes about three months to build a gondola, the construction of which is regulated by the city. A gondola is typically made of 280 pieces of wood, iron and steel, it's 11 m long and 1.5 m wide. Although new gondolas are still being built every year, most of the work that goes on at Squero di San Trovaso involves the maintenance and repairs of those already existing (a gondola has a lifespan of about 30 years). I thought it was pretty interesting to spy on the workers from across the canal!
Walking along the Zattere
If you're coming to Venice by cruiseship, chances are you'll get your first taste of the city by walking along the Zattere, a nice promenade built over a series of quays that border the Giudecca Canal and, incidentally, offer great views of Il Redentore, the main church located on the island of La Giudecca. "Zaterre" is the Italian word for "rafts", and it refers to the area's original vocation, which was a landing dock for rafts that would arrive to Venice full of timber and other construction materials. As the practice came to an end and rafts came to be replaced by cruiseships that dock at the nearby Terminal Venezia Passeggeri, the lumberyards were gradually transformed into hotels and restaurants. I really enjoyed walking along the Zattere, which I thought were in some ways similar to the Riva degli Schiavoni, but much less crowded. The promenade stretches from the San Basilio Pier to the Dogana di Mare (Customs House), and there are plenty of nice (though slightly expensive) cafes and restaurants offering lovely terraces right on the water, which is something you don't find at the Riva degli Schiavoni. It truly is an area that's worth exploring!
Dorsoduro district, quiet and laid back
The Sestiero Dorsoduro is a large district, which includes the island of La Giudecca. The Dorsoduro features beautiful churches and museums, but it is still possible to take a quiet walk throughout the district, away from the crowds. The area around Campo di S. Margherita is very pleasant, with an atmosphere all of its own. The last gondola makers are located on Campo S. Trovaso. The banks of the Giudecca Canal around the Zattere Vaporetto stop are much less crowded than the similar area East of San Marco. The Dorsoduro is slightly more elevated than the rest of the city and feels somewhat less like a pestiferous maze.
- Historical Travel
walk around Dorsoduro
In the afternoon we walked again at Dorsoduro, this time a bit at the north side towards Rialto bridge. We checked the church San Simeone Grande (pic 1). It was built in 10th century but the façade is from 19th century. It is also knows as San Simeone Profeta and it’s been said that in 1630 many victims from 1630 plague had been buried under the floor! After some minutes we reached another church, San Giacomo da l’Orio (pic 2). It was originally built in the 9th century but was rebuilt in 13th, 14th and 15th century again. It is supposed to house several great paintings but we preferred to stay outside on the San Giacomo square which turned to be one of our most relaxing moments in Venice. We just enjoyed another ice cream while watching the local people chatting, eating ice cream and kids playings. We were jelous of little kids that were completely in their own world without the stress we have even on holidays when we try to catch everything. Pic 3 is one of my favorite pictures in Venice.
We checked some more churches like Santa Maria mater Domini and San Cassiano before we reach ponte storto, another small bridge that leads into the short alley calle del ponte Storto, one of the shortest alleys in Venice. We took some more nice photos (pic 4) and walked along peaceful alleys, we passed by Campo Sant’ Aponal and San Silvestro churches that were our last stops before we start walking at Riva del Vin at Grand Canal that leads to Rialto bridge. It’s rare to find long promenades along the Grand Canal so don’t miss it to walk a bit here.
- Religious Travel
from Academia to Dogana di Mare
A few steps away from ponte dell’ Academia, at campo della Carita is the Galeria del’ Academia that houses a huge exhibition of Venetian art in three different buildings. Paolo Veneziano, Vittore Carpaccio, Tiepolo, Tintoretto and other’s famous artists works are on display. As elsewhere in Venice you have to leave your backpack at the lockers pay the entrance fee (6,5euro) and be there any day you like 8.15-19.15 (Mondays till 14.00). There is also a group ticket (11 euro) that includes entrance to Ca’d’Oro and Oriental Art Museum)
Then we visited SAN VIO church(pic 1), near academia but it was closed (forever?) so we just rest at the small campo for a while. It was built in 912 and it’s dedicated to Santi Vito e Modesto, two Sicilian saints. The most interesting story I found about it it’s what the travel writer E.V.Lucas(1868-1938) wrote:… it seems that one of the most devoted worshippers in this minute temple was the little Contessa Tagliapietra, whose home was on the other side of the Grand Canal. Her one pleasure was to retire to this church and make her devotions: a habit which so exasperated her father that one day he issued a decree to the gondoliers forbidding them to ferry her across. On arriving at the traghetto and learning this decision, the girl calmly walked over the water, sustained by her purity and piety>
We walked a bit at the small alleys and canals of the area but we got worried when we saw the water starting coming over them at the promenades (pic 3), we forgot it for a while although some hours later we realized that we had to take out our shoes! Our next stop was Guggenheim museum(pic 2). Peggy Guggenheim’s collection is housed at a neoclassical palazzo and it is focusing on modern art. It is nice if you have never heard before about Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro and other unknown artists like them :) It open Wednesday to Monday 10.00-18.00 and the entrance fee is 12 euro (june 2009, this is too much, isn’t it?).
Santa Maria della Salute(pic 4) is one of the most famous church in Venice and you will definitely see it from the vaporetto as it stands opposite San Marco on the other side of the grand canal. It was built by Baladssare Longhena in the 17th century, dedicated to Virgin Mary and and with hope that it will stop another deadly plague of 1630. The exterior is impressive because of the huge dome, the statues and the stairs. The interior will please you too with some great paintings although if you have already visit other churches in Venice maybe you will be already at the level “no more, thank you please” about art and churches.
We were at that level so we preferred to go at the end of the Dorsoduro district, just a few steps away from the church and watch the night coming over San Marco at the other side of the canal. We had the naked boy holding a frog (pic 5) as a company. The statue of the twelve year old boy made by Charles Ray and its funny what he answered when he asked why he created this statue: “This is the place where couples have fights, break up, get engaged and have their first kiss” Hopefully, none of the them happened to us! :)
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Punta della Dogana
The Punta della Dogana offers one of the best panoramic views, it is the dividing point between bacino S.Marco, the Canale della Giudecca and the Canal Grande.
The lower part of the building was the former Dogana de Mar made by Giuseppe Benoni in 1677.
- Arts and Culture
Sestiere Dorsoduro - Campo San Trovaso
Campo di San Trovaso is partly a grassy field, which is so rare in today's Venice, but what all the campi used to be. Here is one of the only few left Sguero, (shipyard for gondolas) in Venice.
Gondola ie emblem of the city of Venice, it has a particularly elongated keel with highly raised ends. It is about ten metres long and little more than a metre wide, and the prow ends in the symbol of the six sestieri. Astern there is a raised platform for the gondoliere who presses and balances depending on the direction in which he wants to steer the gondola.
Cà Zenobio degli Armeni
A monumental building, built in late 17th and begining of 18th century, by the venetian noble family of Zenobio; it was built in 1690 by architect Gaspari, Longhena' s pupil. In 1850 it became the seat of Collegio dei Padri Armeni Mechitaristi di S. Lazzaro.
District of Dorsoduro
The six districts into which Venice is divided are called sestieri; three per side of the Grand Canal (Dorsoduro, Santa Croce and San Polo to the left and Castello, San Marco and Cannaregio to the right). We stayed in the sestiere of Dorsoduro.
The area between the Accademia and San Trovaso is Venice?s most elegant and artistry quarter, home to many writers and artists. Some of the finest domestic architecture in Venice is concentrated here. The reason is simple - there were not many places among the lagoon's mud-banks where Venice's early settlers could be confident that their dwellings wouldn't slither down into the water, but with Dorsoduro they were on relatively solid ground (the sestiere's name means "hard back").
During the day the paintings of Dorsoduro's art galleries and religious institutions that draw most visitors across the Ponte dell' Accademia. The Gallerie dell'Accademia, is the area's number one destination, and figures on most itineraries as the place to make for when the Piazza San Marco sights have been done.
The huge church of Santa Maria della Salute is the most beautiful church in Venice.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Zattere - Escape from the Labyrinth
Take a little time to relax by the open waters of the Venetian Lagoon. The Zattere, a relatively long walkway in Dorsoduro which overlooks the Guidecca Island, feels different because it's not all hemmed in like the narrow interior streets and canals of Venice. It's a nice escape from the hordes of tourists, too. It gets a refreshing breeze off the water, so it's a great place to hang out in the sun for a bit, either on a bench or at one of the restaurants on docks over the water. Plus there's Nico's Gelato shop : )
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