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Secret Venice


Cannaregio  Highlights and the Jewish QuarterTour 5

Miracoli, San Canciano and the Jesuits’ Churches, Santa Maria della Misericordia Confraternity, Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo, Palazzo Mastelli,  Madonna dell’Orto Church, the house of Tintoretto, Campo dei Mori, the Jewish Quarter.

Cannaregio district, one of the most densely populated areas of the city,  

 is located in the northwestern part of Venice, and  it extends from the Grand Canal towards the lagoon. 

Walking through it, your guide will tell you anecdotes and stories related to its hidden treasures. One of its architectural gems is the Miracoli church, covered entirely with slabs of marble in order to make it  resembles to a refined treasure chest. It was commissioned to house an icon, representing the Virgin Mary and Jesus,  that was considered miraculous.

In a more peripheral area, you will come across the church of Santa Maria Assunta, whose history is linked to the Jesuit order. Its interior, decorated with green and white marble, preserves the Martyrdom of San Lorenzo, painted by Titian.

In its neighbourhood, there is  the majestic Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Misericordia, built by the famous architect Sansovino in the 16th century. It was the seat of a secular brotherhood of citizens in operation until the end of the republic of Venice. 

Dotted with many private gardens, Cannaregio preserves some noble palaces with historical and architectural importance among which the best known are the Palazzo Contarini dal Zaffo and the Palazzo Mastelli with a camel represented on its façade. Close to this palace Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, lived and worked. He was buried in the Gothic church of Madonna dell’Orto, where some  of his works can still be admired. 

Finally, you will  reach the Ghetto, where the Jews were compelled to live by the Venetian government starting from the 16th century. Here they built their synagogues where an ancient foundry was originally located.

The visit will end  with an introduction to the history of the Jewish Quarter but please note that a  guided tour to the synagogues is not included in this tour.  Ask for more information.

Tour 5
Tour 6

San Polo  and the Rialto market : merchants, saints and courtesans - Tour 6

The Rialto Bridge, San Giacometo and Elemosinario churches, Palazzo dei Camerlenghi, la Drapperia,  Fabbriche Vecchie and  Nuove, the Rialto Food Market, Campo San Cassiano, le Carampane, il  Ponte delle Tette, Campo San Polo.

The Rialto area is located between its market and the famous bridge in the smallest district of San Polo. Here the economic centre of the city developed as one of the most famous sought-after hubs in the world for the sale of spices.

The reference point of this famous unit was the church of San Giacometo together with the churches of San Giovanni l’Elemosinario and San Matteo. Around them there were a lot of functional buildings dealing with finance, duty, customs and navigation as well as shops and stalls selling any kind of food including fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and cheese.

Not far away from this bustling area, starting from the 1360s the government of Venice regulated   the so-called Castelletto area, where the prostitutes lived. They were allowed to operate safely and out of the residents’ sights. Brothels, places of pleasure and entertainment flourished here, where women exposed “their goods” in order to attract their customers. The toponyms Ponte delle Tette and Carampane still testify their presence in this area close to the parish of San Cassiano, close to Campo San Polo. The square is the largest one after St. Mark’s, famous for one of the most popular games of the past, bullfighting. Mass sermons and masked balls took also place here very frequently. 

Venetians meet here very often with their friends, and they also bring their kids to play.

Tour 7

Castello and the Arsenale, the real Venice -  Tour 7

San Giovanni e Paolo Church, Scuola Grande  di San Marco, San Giorgio dei Greci,  San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, San Francesco della Vigna and the Venetian  Shipyard.

Castello is a little-visited and intact area of eastern Venice, where you will come across some of many out-of-the-way spots and historical attractions such as churches with their inner treasures, old palaces and typical Venetian squares. During a relaxing walking tour your guide will show you the best bits of Castello introducing you to its fascinating and glorious past.

Among its most famous places of historical interest, the Gothic church of San Giovanni e Paolo was destined for the funeral and burial of illustrious men, such as many doges. The church forms an architectural whole with the so-called   Scuola Grande di San Marco, a lay confraternity for commoners with its outstanding early-Renaissance façade. It was converted into a hospital, and its former Chapter Hall now contains a library of medical history.

San Giorgio dei Greci church with its leaning tower   and San Giorgio degli Schiavoni confraternity with paintings by Vittore Carpaccio are not far away. They were an expression of the presence of a lot of foreigners in Venice and of how the city agreed to host them as long as they followed the rules that were imposed on them.

One of the most monumental churches in Venice, the church of San Francesco della Vigna was built by two famous architects, Jacopo Sansovino, the official architect of the Republic of Venice,  and by Andrea Palladio, who created its elegant façade. The interior of the church has a simplicity and severity befitting a typical Franciscan church.

And last but not least you will admire the imposing entrance to the Arsenale, one of the earliest European factories, where the Venetian galleys were manufactured and equipped.

Tour 8

The extreme part of Dorsoduro  and the fishermen of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli - Tour 8

The Accademia Bridge, le Zattere, the Squero, San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, Scuola del Soccorso, the Armenian College, Confraternity and Church of the Mount Carmel,  Campo Santa Margherita.

The visit to Dorsoduro will focus on the less elegant and more vital part of the district. Starting from the Accademia bridge you will reach the extremely long embankment of the Zattere, where wood arrived by flotation.  It was reused above all in the boatyards, of which the area was rich. The Squero di San Trovaso, where gondolas are still made and repaired, is one of the few that are left.

The district is also dotted with many old churches, whose foundation goes back to the 7th century. One of the most famous ones is San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the fishermen’s patron-saint. His community had the special right of electing their head, called doge dei Nicolotti, who once a year met the official doge of Venice.

In its neighbourhood there is the Scuola del Soccorso established by Veronica Franco, a famous Venetian courtesan of the 16th century. The building, a recovery for retired ladies, who could be assisted in case they needed,  is very close to the Armenian College with  a secret garden at the back of its palace. It has played a distinguished and important role in the preservation and spread of Armenian culture throughout the world. 

The nearby Carmini church from the 14th century and the Scuola Grande dei Carmini are both dedicated to the worship of the Virgin of the Mount Carmel in Palestine. They  preserve important paintings by Venetian painters such as Giambattista Tiepolo and Padovanino. 

Do not miss Campo Santa Margherita, a sample of how squares looked like in the past, a lively, student-friendly hangout for cocktails, beer and light bites, plus seating on the piazza.

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