Touring Venice Italy - La Fenice District

What should we visit in Venice's La Fenice District?...

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.

The La Fenice district or, as they say in Venice, sestiere, occupying south-central Venice, the city’s most prestigious residential neighborhood, owes its name to the Teatro La Fenice, one of Italy's oldest opera houses. This lovely edifice was inaugurated on 16 May 1792. It has been the site of many memorable operatic premieres, including the 1853 disastrous opening of Verdi's La Traviata. We all know how well that worked out. This opera house was badly damaged by fire in January 1996 but has been meticulously restored. Very close by is the Campo San Stefano, once the site of Carnival feasts, balls and bull fights.

Teatro La Fenice, Venice Italy

Teatro La Fenice, Venice Italy

The Campo hosts two churches, the Eleventh Century Church of San Vidal, first rebuilt after a fire only twenty years after its initial construction and the Thirteenth Century Church of San Stefano whose vestry houses paintings by Tintoretto. In the nearby Campo Santa Maria del Giglio you will find the ancient Church of Santa Maria Zobenigo, initiated in the early Tenth Century and rebuilt hundreds of years later. This is one of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in all Venice.

The relatively small Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo was built in 1499. Bovolo is the Venetian word for a snail-shell. You’ll love its winding stairs, even though they are not attributed to the palace architect and may not be accessible to the public. The Palazzo Grassi on the Grand Canal dates back to the mid-Eighteenth Century. Unlike many other Venetian palaces, this joint had no ground floor merchant stalls. I guess the Grassis didn’t need the money. The Palazzo is now an art gallery boasting a 600-seat outdoor theater.

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, Venice

Only four bridges cross the Grand Canal. One is the Ponte dell'Accademia, first proposed in the mid-Fifteenth Century and then actually built a mere four centuries later. This steel bridge was subsquently replaced by a wooden one, even though I would have guessed vice versa. L'Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia located south of the Grand Canal was founded in 1750 by the Venetian Senate to be Venice’s school of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Its gallery displays the most extraordinary collection of Venetian art in the world, starting with Fourteenth Century works. Nearby you’ll find the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Italy’s most important museum in Italy for European and American art of the first half of the Twentieth Century. Good old Peggy used to hang her hat here. The Sixteenth Century Palazzo Cini hosts the Collezione Cini, another great private art collection that became public.

And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Veneto or other Italian wines.

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About the Author

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 devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website 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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