We hope that you are enjoying our series of articles and guest articles on Italian tourist attractions, covering the entire country except for its major cities. In a sense we have left the best for last. We will describe what to see in Italy’s great cities neighborhood by neighborhood. You may not realize it, but Venice is divided into 8 districts. And each and every one of these districts boasts its own sightseeing attractions. If you have time, visit them all. In any case, read these articles to help plan your trip to this unique city. You may be in for some real surprises.
Castello is the largest of Venice’s districts, locally known as sestiere. It’s in the east of Venice and, unlike some sestiere, people actually live there. A major feature is the Riva degli Schiavoni, a stone boardwalk running east from the Ducal Palace (in the San Marco district.) This lovely boardwalk owes its name to Slavic fishermen who worked this area in medieval times. Don’t miss the Fifteenth Century Santa Maria della Visitazione Church often called La Pietà, rebuilt some two centuries later. Crane your neck to see some excellent frescoes on the ceiling. Vivaldi was concertmaster here, so the church sometimes serves as a concert hall. When you realize that the Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs) that crosses the Rio di Palazzo connects the Doges' Palace with the prisons across the river, you’ll know where it gets its Seventeenth Century name. Slightly south is the Ponte della Paglia.
The Museo Storico Navale of Venice is Italy’s most important naval museum. It is situated in a Sixteenth Century barn. If you have any interest whatsoever in naval history plan to spend a lot of time at this excellent museum.
North of the Pietà is the relatively quiet Campo San Zaccaria, home to a church of that name, whose initial foundation dates back to the Ninth Century and subsequently transformed during the Renaissance. As you walk down its aisles note paintings that represent the daily life of Venice and religious scenes. Other district churches include the Sixteenth Century Greek Orthodox Church of San Giorgio dei Greci featuring a frescoed hemispherical dome and the Basilica di San Giovanni e Paolo, whose construction started in the mid-Fourteenth Century and completed a mere century later. This is Venice’s principal Dominican Church, and one of the largest churches in the city. After the Fifteenth Century all Venice’s Doges (twenty five, if you are keeping count) were buried here.
To the south lies the San Giorgio Maggiore Island. This island has hosted a church since the Eighth Century, and is home to a Tenth Century Bendictine monastery, closed to the public. So you’ll have to console yourself with one of Venice’s finest churches, San Giorgio Maggiore, built in the mid-Sixteenth Century by Andrea Palladio, arguably the greatest architect in history. Its chapel hosts works by Tintoretto among others. The campanile offers one of the finest views of Venice.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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