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Venice, Italy City Trip - San Polo, Dorsoduro

Gondolas parked outside downtown Venice
Gondolas parked outside downtown Venice

VENICE DAY 2: San Polo, Dorsoduro

Early morning Venice is a special time. The mist rises slowly off the canals and fishermen busy themselves unloading the day's catch, especially at the Rialto Fish Market. The grand hall; with its stone arches, wood-beamed ceiling and black lanterns; dates from 1917 — although fishmongers have been dealing here since renaissance times.

Casa Carlo Goldoni in Venice
Casa Carlo Goldoni
From there, stroll in the direction of the Rialto Bridge until reaching the Campo Cesare Battisti, where you can sip the wine Venetians call "un'ombra" and sample delectable paninis and other scrumptious snacks at bars like Al Marcà. The Erbaria, or produce market, is also nearby and worth a visit.

The Rialto Market is also home to the ancient Church of San Giacomo Apostolo. Built in 1097, it's said to be the oldest church in all of Venice. An inscription on its façade urges the merchants for whom it was built to conduct business in an honest and fair manner.

It's a good time to get in a little shopping at this historic site of commerce. La Bottega Dei Mascareri at the Rialto Bridge sells renowned glass jewelry (especially millefiori, tiny mosaic-encrusted trinkets), and hand-painted, marbled paper filling journals, diaries, boxes, cards and notebooks.

Ca’Rezzonico in Venice, Italy
From there, take a vaporetto from the Rialto to Ca'Rezzonico at the eastern tip of Dorsoduro to witness a true Venetian palace. Begun in 1649 by famous Venetian architect Baldassarre Longhena, Ca'Rezzonico remained unfinished for almost a century due to insufficient funds. It was only in 1756, after the Rezzonico family acquired the residence and hired progressive architect Giorgio Massari, that the palace was completed. Now known as the Museo del Settecento (Museum of the 1700s), Ca'Rezzonico is filled with eighteenth century paintings, sculptures, furnishings, a handsome staircase of honor and a spectacular grand ballroom.

Other good stops in the district include the vast Campo Santa Margherita (one of the largest squares in Venice), the twelfth-century Church of San Nicolò dei Mendicoli, and the sprawling Palazzo Zenobio. If you need a dose of a Renaissance art, head to the Gallerie dell'Accademia. This fine museum houses an important collection of Venetian paintings from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries, including works by Bellini, Giorgione, Carpaccio, Tiziano, Tintoretto, Veronese and Tiepolo.

Before heading in though, it's worth stopping for a tramezzino, a delightful, triangular white bread sandwich, at the café just outside of the museum. For a fuller meal, walk just a few minutes from the museum to Taverna San Trovaso for local specialties in a warm and rustic setting.

For dinner though, try to get into Trattoria alla Madonna for seafood specialties served in a classic Venetian "osteria" style.

Take your nightcap at Margaret Duchamp in Campo Santa Margherita. Have a spritz and people-watch until the wee hours.

Continue to Day 3


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Venice Bridge

*Photos from Musei Civici Veneziani


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