The most spectacular city in the world is still as wonderful as ever. St Mark’s square, the Doge’s palace, the Rialto…All these places take you back to an age of glory of the Most Serene Republic of Venice, but are almost constantly crowded with hoards of tourists and littered with souvenir shops. It is possible however to discover a quieter side of Venice.
If you arrive from the airport by train or to Piazzale Roma, don’t miss the Cannaregio sestiere (neighbourhood), where 1/3 of Venitians live. Small streets, canals, local bars and shops give this sestiere a welcoming and peaceful ambiance, that is until the afternoon when locals and tourists mingle in the neighbourhood’s bars. While not yet “museified”, it has some architectural gems, such as la Madonna dell’Orto or the Ca’ D’Oro, as well as the historic jewish Ghetto (term that originated in Venice), created in the 16th century. The old Ghetto has some of the tallest buildings in Venice and is filled with charm.
Another nice spot is the campo (square) Santa Margherita in the Dorsoduro quartiere. If you arrive in the morning you might see some market stalls selling fruits, vegetables and fish. It still has a neighbourhood feel with children playing football, students eating pizzas or elderly people just sitting on benches. The campo Santa Margherita is also quite lively at night.
Continuing south, from alleys to canals, we arrive at the Dorsoduro docks, the Zattere, which face the Giudecca. You can breathe the air from the open sea and, thanks to the southern exposure, you can even sunbathe there. Bars and restaurants offer their terraces to walkers, and to the east of San Marco lies the Castello district, which can be reached from Piazza San Marco along the riva degli Schiavoni.
Don’t hesitate to walk around the Campo Bandiera e Moro, stop at the Scuola San Giorgio degli Schiavoni with its Carpaccio paintings, then continue towards the Arsenal. Here is the popular Venice with canal squares,clothes drying in the street, local residents chatting, a nice market on the Via Garibaldi side… At the very end of the Castello, two islands accessible by footbridges, San Pietro di Castello and Sant’Elena, and the public gardens created by Napoleon. It emanates a soothing atmosphere, to savour if possible, at the end of the day.