THE SIX VENICE'S SESTIERI
Venice has six Sestieri (Venetian name given to its districts) which constitute the old city centre. Cannaregio: populate sestiere.
There is the Jewish Ghetto, the small area in which Jews were confined.
Castello: the greatest and animated Venetian sestiere. It's in the east of the city and includes the Arsenal.
Dorsoduro: it's one of the most comfortable areas of Venice. The name seems to derive from the small hills of debrises.
Santa Croce: San Paolo – next to the Grand Canal. In Santa Croce, Piazzale Roma and the island of Tronchetto with its big parking are located.
Lido di Venezia: It's the only area of the old city centre where cars can have access. It's the seat of "Venice Film Festival" and many other tourist attractions.
LIDO DI VENEZIA
The Lido di Venezia (Lido Inlet) is the main land barrier between Venice and the Adriatic Sea. It's the only island that allows people to use cars and mopeds. Otherwise you can use without any problem bikes as they are rented in the Lido near the main stop of the water bus.
The Lido is the perfect place for people looking for a comfortable accommodation; here, in fact, you'll find many hotels providing all kinds of comfort. The Lido becomes very popular at the end of August/beginning of September as it hostes the International Venice Film Festival.
The Lido is easily reachable from Venice centre; it takes more or less twenty minutes coming from St. Mark's Square. You can use different lines according to the timetable: 1, 6, 11, 52, 82.
PUNTA DELLA DOGANA
The Punta della Dogana (Custom Point), is a promontory at the entrance of St. Mark's Basin and the perfect place where's possible to admire a wonderful sightseeing including the Riva degli Schiavoni, the island of San Giorgio, the fondamenta "Zattera".
This place, around the XV century, was the base of the maritime customs that had to control the ship cargos. The customs' wing placed at the tip, was built in 1677 by Giuseppe Benoni; the interior was designed by Alvise Pigazzi in 1835–1838.
This place is full of romantic, small alleys, picturesque canals, narrow streets leading into wider "salizzade", the first paved Venetian roads.
PIAZZA SAN MARCO (ST. MARK'S SQUARE), "the drawing room of the world".
Piazza San Marco is the only square in Venice. Once Musset said about it "the drawing room of the world", meaning the marvellous, fascinating sensation that you can breathe. In the past it was both a religious and a political centre as well as a crowded square full of shops and cafes.
The Square has a rectangular shape established in the XII° century, for the meeting of Pope Alexander III and the Emperor - Barbarossa.
All the Square is surrounded by old palaces sustained by porches. As the background, the Square has the St. Mark's Basilica. In the north part of the square there's the "Procuratie Vecchie", a big palace that once was the central office of Venetian main Bench.
Next, there is the Campanile or Clock Tower.
The southern part is the place where we can find the "Procuratie Nuove", built in 1582 by Scamozzi and next is the Sansoviana Library. The Napoleonic annex closes the smallest part of the Square.
The Grand Canal is the main waterway in Venice, that goes from Piazzale Roma (the main stop of the public transports) to St. Mark's Square, crossing the city with a curios S–Shape. It's over two miles long and features three bridges.
The section of the Grand Canal between the train station and the Rialto Bridge offers scenic views of centuries-old palaces.
The most famous are:
– Palazzo Grimani;
– Palazzo Grassi
– Ca' Barzizza;
– Rialto Bridge;
– Ca' Pesaro;
– Ca' d'Oro;
– Mocenigo Palace;
– Vendramin Carlegi Palace;
– Venier Palace;
– Fondaco dei Turchi.
The three bridges Rialto Bridge, Bridge of the Barefoot and Academy Bridge are the main bridges that cross over this fascinating canal. A fourth bridge by Santiago Calatrava is going to be constructed in order to connect Piazzale Roma to railway train station. Being the main Venetian waterway, the Grand Canal is crossed by water buses.
The best way to see the Grand Canal in Venice is by boat. Taking a public water bus (number 1) is a good idea for making a pleasant ride on the Grand Canal at low cost.
– Piazzale Roma;
– Riva de Biasio;
– S. Marcuola;
– San Stae;
– Ca' d'oro;
– Rialto Market;
– San Silvestro;
– San Tomà;
– Ca' Rezzonico;
– San Samuele;
– Santa Maria del Giglio;
– San Marco Vallaresso.
Like the other famous Italian cities, in Venice there is a specific area full of fashionable shops, ready to satisfy a lot of people in the mood for shopping. The term "Mercerie" refers to a series of narrow streets that connect St. Mark's Square to Rialto.There are three Mercerie:
– Merceria dell'orologio;
– Merceria di San Giuliano;
– Merceria di San Salvador.
From centuries they have been the heart of commercial activities, where the most appreciated shops remained opened even during the night.
Walking around the streets of Mercerie, you'll find several shops and boutiques of all kind (from jewelry shops to fashion ateliers) that occupie this area of Venice and constitute the heart of the city.
THE JEWISH GHETTO
The Jewish ghetto is in the Cannaregio Sestiere of Venice; it's divided in two parts: Ghetto Nuovo (New Ghetto) and Ghetto Vecchio (Old Ghetto) and it's surrounded by canals. It's interesting how the names that were given to these ghettos are wrog: the New Ghetto is actually the older one.
The presence of the Ghetto was tolerated during the Republic of Venice; this tolerant atmosphere ended at the beginning of XVI century when Jews were expelled from Spain (1492). That's because the Ghetto was built in Venice: it was a way to satisfy Catholic Church's claims.
During some catholic celebrations, Jews were forced to remain in the Ghetto. In spite of the restriction, Ghetto's population enlarged, so in 1663, the New Ghetto was constructed, where you can visit five beautiful synagogues.
During Napoelon's occupation the gates which enclosed the Ghetto were demolished. The Jews didn't have the same rights of the other Venetian citizens. During the 2nd World War, more than 2,000 Venetian Jews were deported to Germany. Only seven or eight Jews came back.
Moreover, you may also have the plaesure to discover other fascinating locations around Venice, such as the Island of the Venetian lagoon Murano, Burano, Torcello and Chioggia. For all the information about them, please visit the section "Venetian Islands".