The island of Giudecca belongs to the Dorsoduro district, named for the solid and raised terrain: an area of the city that has preserved its original peripheral character over time, compared to the central areas of Rialto and San Marco.
The double soul of Venice
Here the tide of tourists does not reach unless to a lesser extent and the most secret beauty of Venice emerges, where the atmosphere has remained that of past centuries, together with the cultural richness and beauty of many buildings, churches and palaces.
Which on one side overlook the Grand Canal and on the other on the very long foundations of the Zattere, the pier built in 1516 from the name that derives from the boats that carried the wood of the Cadore forests along the Piave river. Very pleasant to walk on the quays admiring the wide and stupendous views of the lagoon on the Giudecca island, which change every hour of the day.
A short path leads to the Fondamenta Venier de ’Leoni, where Ca’ Corner dei Leoni is located which, conceived as a four-storey building in the 18th century, was never raised beyond the ground floor, and for this reason was nicknamed Unfinished Building.
In 1949 the building was bought by the American billionaire Peggy Guggenheim, brilliant heiress, collector and patron of the art, who placed her extraordinary collection of works of art that consists of 200 paintings and sculptures, representative of almost all artistic movements modern and contemporary.
Among the artists exhibited Picasso, Pollock, Mirò, De Chirico, Magritte, Mondrian, Kandinskij, Ernst, his ex-husband, and many others. The most provocative piece is the Angel of the Citadel by Marino Marini, a prominent man sitting on a horse, erected in all directions, looking out over the Grand Canal from the outdoor terrace.
That of visiting the palace and admiring the splendid collection of the eccentric Peggy, who loved her 14 white poodles so much that she wanted to be buried next to them in the garden of her Venetian residence, it was our great desire that we could fulfill in our ride in the lagoon. And it was exciting to immerse oneself in her world, wandering around her living rooms and other rooms admiring them as they were in black and white photos on the walls, remaining enchanted in front of her extravagant jewels and the silver headboard of her bed designed by Alexander Calder.
Our walk continued towards the wooden bridge of the Accademia where you can admire one of the most beautiful views of the Grand Canal. Almost opposite, in the heart of the most elegant area of Venice, is Campo Santo Stefano, which despite being very busy has remained a hundred percent Venetian corner.
Here flows a river of people, just like in the times of the Serenissima, when bull races were held in Campo Santo Stefano and covered with grass except for a stone paved avenue, the “liston”. And still today, “doing the liston” in Venetian means walking, certainly for the purpose of looking and being watched.
It is pleasant to wander around the square, letting yourself be caressed by the hot sun and watch the comings and goings around the two wells and the statue of Nicolò Tommaseo. Meanwhile, it is time for lunch and while we were intent on consulting the map on one side and smartphone navigator on the other, a very kind gentleman approached who offered to give us directions to reach our destination, the Ostaria al Diavolo e l’Acquasanta (S. Polo 561 / b – +39 041 2770307 – firstname.lastname@example.org).
It didn’t take long to reach it, but first we crossed one of the symbols of Venice, the wonderful Rialto Bridge. Since we had a tight time we preferred to do it outside to admire the view of the Grand Canal but also to avoid the crowd that stands in front of the shops located on the inside.
The selfie in front of this masterpiece formed by an arch joining the two sides surmounted by 24 arches is worthwhile, so projects were presented by the most famous architects of the time, such as Palladio and Michelangelo, but that of the little-known Antonio Scarpagnino, was awarded. A few meters separate us from our lunch. That we are in the right place to taste the cicheti and the true Venetian cuisine we understand from the fact that the place is not frequented by tourists but crowded with gondoliers and regular customers.
The lady, smiling and friendly, immediately serves us a glass of still white wine, cicheti based on cod, zucchini and sardines, all strictly fried, and an exquisite calf’s liver with onions.
But we cannot leave Venice like this, without reaching Piazza San Marco. First it deserves a detour to Campo San Fantin which is dominated by the magnificent classical-style façade of the La Fenice theater built in 1792 and then marked by a series of fires, until the last in 1996 from which it resurrected just as the mythical bird is reborn from their own ashes.
Then … the charm! What you feel when you cross the arches of the Napoleonic Wing of the Procuratie Nuove that open onto the square that Napoleon Bonaparte called “the most beautiful living room in Europe”. In front of the Basilica of San Marco that shines in the sun between the gold of the mosaics and that of the lion on the main portal, with the white Byzantine domes that silhouetted across the blue sky. With this postcard-like image in the eyes we greeted Venice.