You often hear about “two Venezie”: the monumental that we all know and that anyone who goes to the center of the Venetian lagoon must visit from Piazza San Marco, and the so-called minor, without great architecture and art but characterized by a building widespread making it a city within a city. But, indeed, there is one big and multifaceted Venice. And the city of monuments and palaces exists only because there is the other made up of small house, winding streets and solitary squares. In the most hidden part and farther away from that tourism sometimes exasperating that clogs the area around the Grand Canal, the urban fabric is dense, almost a labyrinth, which has no shortage of buildings, monuments and churches to be discovered.
When we chose to visit Venice with our Arturo, while not giving the canonical visits to places postcard, we gave priority to the maze of alleys of the neighborhoods off the beaten path. And walking through “campi” and bridges, we have found its true soul. At first, the choice of “deserting” the Grand Canal was almost forced: after the first round by boat, Arturo has clearly shown that he did not like at all the noise and comings and goings on the vehicle. So, after the obligatory path on the water on one of the “streets” the most beautiful in the world, we decided to turn Venice strictly on foot, putting into account all the tiredness that until evening takes limbs: walking districts you grind kilometers!
But we want to emphasize that in Venice dogs, cats and even birds, hamsters and other small animals are admitted free of all means of the Azienda del consorzio trasporti.
Avoiding the beaten track Venice appeared to us, with its unique atmosphere, in all its more secret beauty. We began to “explore” the Dorsoduro district, where is the Squero of San Trovaso, old shipyard dating from the seventeenth century: here the gondolas are built and repaired following not only traditional methods, but using vintage gear. Eight different types of wood and three months of work are needed to make a gondola.
Dorsoduro’s heart is Campo Santa Margherita, a space extended with trees that almost makes you forget to be in Venice: you don’t see canals and gondolas and it’s far from tourists rounds. As the morning unfolds one of the most crowded markets, at any time of day or night the “campo” is overrun by students who meet here at the tables of the many cafes. One side of the square is dominated by two ancient buildings of the Carmelite Order: the Grande Scuola and the Carmini Church, the first with a ceiling decorated with wonderful frescoes by Tiepolo and the second keeps inside beautiful paintings by Cima da Conegliano and Lorenzo Lotto. The suggestion is highest in the late afternoon, when the sunlight fills the church, magically illuminating the statues of gilded wood that adorn the arches of the nave.
After the time dedicated to the art, it is time to stop to eat or drink something. Sitting at a bar in Campo San Barnaba, you can watch the comings and goings around one of the most photographed of Venice “minor” at the point where the Rio Terà (a former channel paved, terà means basement) meets the channel, under the Ponte dei Pugni, Mario’s boat, one of the few shops floating fruit and vegetables that still exist in the city.
In San Polo, a real “jewel” it is represented by the buildings of the complex of San Giovanni Evangelista that overlook the small square of the Scuola, preceded by a small courtyard richly decorated with a most valuable access, partition marble by Pietro Lombardo, one of the most original achievements of the fifteenth century in Venice. The majestic church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, which preserves memories and glories of more than 500 years of Venetian history. Inside, the choir of the monks with a high marble enclosure with 124 wooden stalls, richly carved and, on the main altar, the masterpiece by Tiziano, the great altarpiece of the Assumption. A curiosity: the bell tower of the Frari, with its 70 meters high, is second only to that of San Marco.