Venice: off the beaten path is possible – part 3


On my last day in Venice I covered Sestiere Cannaregio and, again, Sestiere Castello.

Cannaregio is probably the biggest city district in Venice, covering an area spanning from the Train Station to Rialto Bridge and beyond, on the left side of the Grand Canal.

As my hotel was located just behind the Basilica of St. Mark I decided to take a ride with the Vaporetto, the official water bus of Venice. It’s a boat with a capacity of approximately 200 passengers and, beside the watertaxis, which are speedboats, and the Gondolas, is the only mean of transportation in Venice for the general public. The closest stop to my hotel was “San Marco – Giardini” so I walked there, paid the ticket and went to the dock.

The price is pretty expensive: 7.50 Euro per ride, but if you plan to use Vaporetto more than I did, you may opt for a day or multi day ticket. Also remember that if you take line n. 1, which goes all along the Grand Canal, you get an amazing trip along the most beautiful avenue on Earth, but it takes a while due to the several stops. It took me 1 hour from St. Mark’s square to the Train Station which was the beginning of my itinerary.

I took some pictures along my journey on the boat. The first highlight is a palace called Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, an unfinished Noble Palace which was the residence of Peggy Guggenheim, who lived in Venice for a long time and stored her personal collection of contemporary arts in it. When she died she left the palace and the collection to her uncle’s foundation (Solomon Guggenheim) under the condition that it had to stay in Venice for ever. The entrance if from Sestiere Dorsoduro, but the official façade is along the Grand Canal. Should you be interested in learning more about this unique women you might read her autobiography titled “Out if this century – confessions of an art addict”.

Palazzo Venier dei Leoni – Peggy Guggenheim Collection. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

A Gondola was riding alone along the Grand Canal…

A Gondola on the Grand Canal. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The next highlight I pictured is the headquarter of the University of Venice, called Cà Foscari. Beside the general fields of study that every University offers, Cà Foscari is well known for Eastern languages, especially Chinese and Japanese. Close to it you also see an amazing building called Palazzo Giustiniani.

Cà Foscari and Palazzo Giustiniani. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Then the boat  reached Ponte di Rialto. Certainly the best known bridge of Venice together with the bridge of sighs. It’s big, majestic and elegant. There is only another bridge on Earth that can compete with Rialto and that is Ponte Vecchio in Florence.

Ponte di Rialto. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

One last thing that is pretty visible from the Vaporetto are the “Altane”. In Venice buildings do not have terraces. Thus, in modern times the Venetian who wanted to get some space on the roof to tan, admire the view and sip an aperitivo with their friends, decided to built wooden structures on the roof, called Altane.

Altana (Roof Terrace). Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Few stops later I got to my destination: the train station. Built during the fascist regime, it’s an ugly building made according to the “racionalist” style which was the fashion of that time. From there I started walking along “lista di Spagna”, one of the busiest alleys of Venice and took a left after crossing Ponte delle Guglie, walking along “fondamenta Cannaregio”. That is where the famous Jewish Ghetto of Venice begins. Venice has been the very first city in history to establish a Jewish Ghetto. Even the word Ghetto seems to come from the venetian “geto” meaning the “wastes” from the production of the ships inside the arsenal.

The buildings here are a bit taller than elsewhere in Venice or, keeping the same height they have a higher number of storeys.

Houses in the Ghetto. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

However, even in the Ghetto you get nice views over the beautiful piazzas (Campo) surrounded by colourful buildings, as well as canals directly connected to the lagoon. You might notice here that, despite some buildings are plastered and coloured, others are not. The reason is that the salt of the water ruins the plaster very quickly, thus several inhabitants do not want to spend money on plastering and colouring their houses every now and then, also because placing the scaffoldings in the canals not only is expensive but also very difficult.

Campo (piazza) insde the Jewish Ghetto. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
Canals inside the Jewish Ghetto. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

I left the Ghetto and moved further towards Sestiere Castello, which I visited on my first day but left some sections uncovered.

On my way there saw this Gondola floating right between two small bridges.

Gondola. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

My destination was the Church of St. John and Paul. It is pretty easy to get there because that is also the name of the Hospital of Venice which occupies the former monastery of St. John and Paul. Therefore you see blue signs pointing the direction to get there almost everywhere in the city. Being a Sunday, there were services going on so I could go inside and I stole just one picture between one mess and the next one.

Basilica of St. John and Paul. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Just beside the Church is the Great school of St. Mark, another impressive museum of the same nature of the School of St. Rocco, which I visited the day before (see my post here). I would have loved to go inside but visitors were not allowed on Sundays. I didn’t get why, but I assumed there were Covid restrctions into force. Anyway, the façade itself is a masterpiece.

Scuola Grande di San Marco. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

From Campo San Giovanni e Paolo, I walked along Fondamenta dei mendicanti, along a canal where the water ambulances are parked, right before the Hospital, then I reached the so called Fondamenta Nuove, overlooking the cemetery of Venice, which is an island in front of the City and took a right.

I walked in front of the entrance to the Emergency room, where more ambulances were parked, and another one was approaching at a pretty high speed. You may know that the waves caused by the boats are one of the big threats to the foundations of Venice, thus the water ambulances are the only boats allowed to cover a high speed.

Venetian Ambulances. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
Ambulance approaching the hospital. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Then, I took the metal runway that goes all along the walls of the arsenal where I could admire the lagoon, the island of Murano from a distance, and even the airport, in the mainland of Venice. During the “Biennale” – a contemporary art exhibition held at the Arsenal – it is possible to get inside, see the Darsena Grande and enjoy art installation in a very unique scenery.

Metal Runway along the walls of the Arsenal. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Later that day, just before leaving Venice, I decided to take one final walk to the Church of Good Health (Chiesa della Salute), built to celebrate the end of the Plague (or black death) pandemic in 1630. It’s an amazing roman catholic church on Sestiere Dorsoduro, at the very tip of the island. Its dome is visible from almost everywhere in town, but getting there is a real emotion.

The church of good health from the Accademia Bridge. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
The Church of good health. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

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