From the Grand Canal, Venice's magnificent two-mile-long main street, to the empty reaches of the saltwater lagoon, every inch of Italy's sight-rich city warrants exploration.
Thrumming with life along the Cannaregio Canal, quiet and echoing in its alleyways and understated campi, this sestiere of surprises conceals the original Jewish Ghetto and some great nightlife on the fondamenta della Misericordia.
A sestiere of many parts, Castello stretches from luxury hotels on the lagoon-side riva degli Schiavoni to glorious churches such as Santi Giovanni e Paolo in the west. Further east, beyond the monumental Arsenale, lie the quiet streets of residential workaday Venice.
Artsy Dorsoduro is home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the new Pinault gallery at the Punta della Dogana. But there’s lots of nightlife, too, around campo Santa Margherita, plus a vibrant student scene further west in the former industrial zone.
With a character all of its own, the Giudecca has an industrious past and an alternative future: from boatyards to galleries, this island just gets trendier. Palladio’s San Giorgio is a Venetian icon.
No other city in the world can boast quite such a magnificent main street as Venice: a graceful backwards-‘S’ sweep of water, flowing between sumptuous churches and historic palazzi of breathtaking beauty. Whether you’re doing it for the first time or the 1,000th, making your water-borne way down the Grand Canal is always an extraordinary experience.
There’s a whole other world in the lagoon, from the rather fin-de-siècle beach resort on the long, sandy Lido to misty waterlands dotted with characterful islands.
The eponymous piazza and basilica are the beating heart of this sestiere. Many of Venice's major attractions are situated here including Doge's Palace, Campanile and Torre dell'Orologio. In the alleys that wind from this hub towards the Rialto and Accademia bridges are snazzy shops (Ottico Fabbricatore, Daniela Ghezzo Segalin Venezia and Perle e Dintorni), a great opera house (Teatro La Fenice) and glowing Madonnas in awe-inspiring churches.
The hectic produce and fish market at the foot of the Rialto Bridge sets the tone for these busy residential sestieri, packed with the kind of intimate restaurants and cafés frequented by true Venetians. At the sestiere’s heart is the magnificent Frari basilica.
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