Three days in Venice - a perfect picture - day 2

On our day one itinerary we took in all the must-see sights of St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. On day two, we’ll spend time exploring local neighbourhoods in the San Polo and Dorsoduro sestieri districts.

09:00 – 11:30 - Frari, San Rocco, Campo Santa Margherita

Santa-Maria-Gloriosa-dei-Frari-by-PAVDWFirst stop is the Campo dei Frari at the Chiesa di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or the ‘Frari’ as the Venetians abbreviate it. Take the public vaporetto to the San Toma stop, then follow signs to the Frari and San Rocco, or walk from the Rialto Bridge to Campo San Polo using the main street Ruga Vecchia S. Giovanni. Here’s a good place to check out some maskmakers’ shops. It’s a short walk from Campo San Polo to the Frari, a huge Gothic building dating to the early 1300s. This is one of the most important churches in Venice, containing art by Titian, Bellini, Donatello and monuments to some of Venice’s masters including Monteverdi, Canova and Titian. The Frari is open Mon-Sat 09:00 – 18:00, Sunday 13:00-18:00, and the entry fee is 3€.

Behind the Frari on Salizzida San Rocco is the headquarters of the wealthiest of the Venetian scuole (think rich men’s club). Scuola Grande di San Rocco, named after San Rocco (St. Roch), who was known for his work fighting plagues, is the treasure trove of some of Venice’s most important art works, those of Venetian native Tintoretto. The impressive architecture of the building both inside and out is worth the visit alone - Tintoretto’s paintings are the icing on the cake. The building is open 09:00-17:30 daily, entrance fee 8€.

After visiting San Rocco, walk behind the scuole, cross the bridge and enter the Dorsoduro sestiere district. Dorsoduro is known for its art galleries, such as the Accademia Gallery and the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery.

Make your way to Campo Santa Margherita, the largest campo in Venice, to experience the locals at work and play. During the day there are fish and vegetable stalls, children playing and neighbours chatting. Stop at one of the many bars or cafés for lunch and a gelato at the local favourite gelateria, Il Doge.

One of Venice’s more famous bridges, Ponte dei Pugni (‘Bridge of Fist Fighters’) leads you from Campo Santa Margherita into Campo San Barnaba. You will know you’ve found the right place when you see the old boat where people buy vegetables, moored at the foot of the bridge. Also just off this campo is Ca’Rezzonico, a restored palazzo on the Grand Canal now open to the public. To get a good look at what a wealthy family’s home during the 18th century was like, visit this palazzo. Entrance fee is 8€ and it’s open 10:00 – 18:00 (closed Tuesdays).

13:00 –14:30 - Camp San Barnaba, Squero and The Zattere

Accademia Gondola by Kevin H.Walk from Campo San Barnaba towards the Accademia Bridge by following the yellow signs on the wall. When you get to the bridge at Rio di San Trovaso, turn right and head along the canal until you get almost to the end, where you will find the last remaining squero (gondola boatyard). Here gondolas are built by hand, using 1000-year-old traditional methods. The workshop and builder’s home are constructed of wood, similar to the styles of the Italian Alps, where they originated.

At the end of this street is the Zattere, a wide street (fondamenta) running the length of Dorsoduro all the way to Punta della Dogana at the far end. This street is lined with trees, large houses, cafés and restaurants and makes for a lovely afternoon walk along the waterfront facing Giudecca Canal and Giudecca Island. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a late afternoon break, or an ice cream at Nico’s, another local favourite.

14:30 –15:30 - Punta Della Dogana and La Salute Church

Chiesa-Santa-Maria-della-Salute-Venezia-by-jacqueline.poggiIt will be hard to convince you to keep going after a stop along the Zattere, but more of Dorsoduro awaits. Continue walking down the Zattere until the end, the Punta della Dogana, or the old Customs house. Today it’s a contemporary art gallery, but in the old days all ships stopped here for cargo inspections. Enjoy the view across to Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace, and also the island of San Giorgio Maggiore with its beautiful church and monastery.

Just up the canal is the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Salute, or La Salute as the Venetians call it. Built as a thank you for the end of the plague of the 1600s, this church is octagonal in shape with multiple altars lining the inside walls. It’s the site of an annual festival dating back to the plague years, Festa della Salute.

15:30 – 18:30 - Guggenheim and Accademia Galleries

A short walk down the main street from La Salute to the Accademia Bridge is the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery, all modern art. Just in front of the bridge on the Dorsoduro side is the Accademia Gallery, containing masterpieces of Venetian art. The Guggenheim is closed Tuesdays, and the Accademia open every day 09:00 – 19:00.

If it’s good weather, you might just want to skip going into museums and just enjoy the Dorsoduro walk, away from the crowds.