Most streets in Venice are crowded by tourists, even the narrowest, and it is difficult to discover something new, but here’s your essential guide to the city’s hidden gems.
Where to stay in Venice
Le Marinaresche , apartment block from the 18th th century, in the city center. Grocers, restaurant 30 m. Central position, with all sorts of services and different shops in the surrounding area. Approx 300 m from theGiardini dell Biennale. Vaporetto stop”Giardini” (connection with Lido, San Marco square, the railway station and Piazzale Roma 200 m. Vaporetto stop ”Arsenale” (connection with the airport), about 400 m away.
Campo San Trovaso, small apartment house with 3 storeys, in the centre of Venezia, in the districtDorsoduro, excellent location: right in the centre but still quiet, south facing position. Grocers 200 m, supermarket 300 m, restaurant 200 m. The house overlooks the canal, Piazza San Marco and the Guggenheim Museum are at approximately 10 minutes walking distance. Railway station 15 minutes. Boat stop “Zattere” with connection to the railway station and Piazza San Marco 150 m. The Accademia delle Belle Arti is 200 m away.
Sotoportego delle Colonne, small apartment house in the centre of Venezia, in the district of Castello, excellent location: right in the centre but private and quiet. Grocers, restaurant 30 m, ferry Vaporetto stop “Giardini” is 200 m away, nearby attractions: Biennale di Venezia, Arsenale.
Palazzo Pizzamano, house from the 15th th century, in the centre of Venezia, in the district of Castello, excellent location. For shared use: private courtyard. Shop, grocers 50 m, restaurant, bar 100 m. Piazza San Marco is 800 m away. Vaporetto busstop “San Zaccaria” is 500 m from the house.
Corte Gragolina, historical apartment block, in the centre of Venezia, in a central position, directly by the canal. Only a few minutes’ walk from Piazza San Marco, directly by the La Fenice Theatre.
Antica Carbonera, Calle Bembo, San Marco is an intimate restaurant in a narrow alley near Canal Grade. Serves including good risotto and despite what’s up in the middle of the tourist trail will also find the locals here.
The main room of the “La Carbonera” is unique throughout the world: the tables and the wood alcoves have once been part of the Rodolfo of Hamburgers’ yacht; each piece is obtained from the mast of the same ship.
Da Fiore, San Polo 2002, Calle del Scaleter used to be a local bar serving wine. Today it is possibly the city’s best restaurant, with sober decor and traditional dishes like marinated raw fish and pennette with crayfish tails and broccoli.
Locanda Cipriani, Piazza Santa Fosca 29, is part of the world famous luxury hotel Locanda Cipriani, but you can’t really tell. The decor is simple, the atmosphere relaxed, and the menu includes traditional dishes.
Gatto Nero, Via Giudecca 88, Burano, located on Burano Island, is a destination in its own right. Many quintessentially Venetian dishes are served, such as fegato alla Veneziana (liver with white polenta), and of course the usual selection of anchovy and seafood appetisers.
Al Chioschetto, Dorsoduro 1406A, fondamenta delle Zattere, is a much-loved spot not only for its scrumptious panini and nibbles, but also for the tranquillity of sitting outside along the Giudecca Canal with a sweeping view from industrial Marghera to Palladian San Giorgio Maggiore. Telephone: 348 396 8466
Alla Palanca, Giudecca 448, fondamenta del Ponte Piccolo, one of the cheapest meals-with-a-view in Venice is on offer at this humble bar-trattoria on the Giudecca quay. It’s a lunch-only place: the rest of the day it operates as a bar. Telephone: 041 528 7719
Campo Santa Marghherita in Dorsudoro is the city’s busiest square, when the evening falls. Here is Caffé – a trendy studentbar and Margaret Duchamp – a popular designbar where party animals end up sooner or later. If you prefer to around a little, do not miss Café Noir and Cafe Blu in Calle de Preti.
Do as the locals – visit the fish market, The Pescheria, located next to Rialto Bridge on the Mercato di Rialto. For over 600 years, every day the barges have been arriving at dawn. Come early – the bargaining has already started by 8 a.m. and the wholesalers and most of the retailers close up shop by midday (or 1 p.m. at the latest), so stock up on fruit and photo opportunities before lunch! The feeling is genuine Venetian.
Along Calle Larga between Piazza San Marco and Accademia there are designer shops and high street retailers, but you won’t find a good bargain here.
Another nice shopping street runs between San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. Here in the narrow streets you can buy shoes, jewelry, clothing, souvenirs and everything you wish.
Of course it’s a predictable cliche, but nevertheless fun, to buy a Venetian mask to bring home. Best choice is (and most famous) Mondo Novo Rio Terre Canal and Ca Macana on Calle delle Botteghe. Both are inDorsudoro.
Venetians have been making glass and crystal since the 9th century. Center for the manufacture of the world-famous Murano glass available since 1200, on the island of Murano where you are coming by vaporetto. Attend a guided tour.
To get an authentic feeling of the city start your day in Cannaregio (an area that in some places feels really genuine) or Castello. Take you morning coffee and breakfast in a local cafeteria and watch the city wake up.
San Marco Piazza. Its most famous site, including Europe’s grandest and perhaps most expensive cafe, is Caffé Florian, where historical celebrities such as Casanova, Goethe, Rousseau, Lord Byron, Wagner and Hemingway used to hang out. There is also a 99-meter-high bell tower, campanile from which it has fine views over the lagoon, the Dodge’s Palace, and – of course – St. Marco’s Church.
A gondola tour is a must, but don’t miss to try the local bus, vaporetto, that goes up and down the Grand Canal. Number 1 is perfect for sightseeing – it goes past the gothic Doge’s Palace, when you realize thatVenice is not like any other city.
Lido is no longer the fashionable seaside resort as it was in the end of 1800, but there is a long sandy beach, casino and Hôtel des Bains, appearing in Thomas Mann’s ‘Death in Venice’. Do not miss the village of San Nicolo and the Benedictine abbey, founded in 1044, and a jew burial site from the 1386.
Take a trip to the charming island of Burano with its special architecture and houses in bright colors. Stroll around at your leisure. The island is famous for its embroidery as it tells of the Museo del Merletto.
Art is mostly concentrated in the district Dorsudoro. Here is the Accademia Gallery and Venice’s main art collection, covering mainly the years 1300-1700. In Dorsudoro is also the Guggenheim Museum with art from the second half of the 1900. Here are Picasso, Chagall, Dali, Pllock, Miró and many more. Considerably smaller, but equally important.
In Dorsoduro, there is also Punta della Dogana, which matured in decades, but now has been transformed to a nice private museum of contemporary art. The museum is located far out on the entrance to the Grand Canal and shows selected portions of billionaire Francois Pinault’s collection.
Francois Pinault also owns the Palazzo Grassi on the other side of the canal, which was also a spectacular museum of contemporary art.
Feel like opera, classical music or theater? An alternative is Scoul Grande di San Teodoro on the Campo San Salvador near the Rialto Bridge. The building which was built in 1200 is now hosting various cultural events. Tickets can often be purchased on the day even from the actors themselves on the city streets.
Another opera option is the newly renovated Opera House Teatro La Fenice in Campo San Fantin, which opened again in 2003 after the fire which destroyed the building 1996. This is Venice’s oldest theater and one of the world’s most beautiful opera houses.