48 Hours In Venice By Land & Water

DAY 1: FROM SAN STAE TO SAN MARCO – THE HIDDEN GEMS – As I have previously covered the areas of San Pietro di Castello, via Garibaldi, the Arsenale and the more central parts of Venice, I will start this tour from a new district, Santa Croce, and, in particular, San Stae. At the public boat stop, you can admire the richly decorated facade of the Church of San Stae, an abbreviation for Saint Eustachius, the church which Ruskin once called “ridiculous” because of its baroque architecture which he greatly disliked.

It is not my favourite church either, but it does contain some remarkable works of art, including a Martyrdom of St Bartholomew by a young Giambattista Tiepolo. However, this is not the reason why we are here. I brought you here to let you step into the world of elegance and luxury7 in which 18th-century7 noble Venetians lived. In Palazzo Mocenigo, you will be surrounded by furnishings and paintings of that period with mannequins dressed in 18th-century costumes which recreate the past atmosphere and transport you back in time.

The museum observes the evolution of fashion and interiors and hosts an interesting history of perfume. Palazzo Mocenigo, once the residence of one of the most prestigious Venetian families, is today a fantastic museum and also the seat of the Study Centre of the History of Fabrics and Costumes. But let’s step away from the 18th century and go back to the vaporetto at San Stae. By boat you can take in the central section of the Canal Grande. You will pass in front of Ca’ Pesaro, the International Gallery of Modern Art, which is just next to the church, and on your left you will see the magnificent Ca’ d’Oro (Franchetti’s art collection); then, on the opposite side, the famous Rialto market and the most photographed bridge – Ponte di Rialto!

Once you have passed under the late 16th-century bridge, on your left you can see Palazzo Loredan, where once lived Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia. Soon after, on the opposite side, you’ll see Palazzo Papadopoli, which today houses the fabulous Aman Resort, where George Clooney recently married. The volta del canal (the turn of the canal) is breathtaking – Palazzo Balbi and the Ca’ Foscari university on the right and the Palazzi Mocenigo on the left, and a magnificent view over Rialto. Get off at San Samuele, just after Palazzo Grassi (the contemporary art museum) and you will be just opposite Ca’ Rezzonico, the famous museum of 18th-century Venice.

This is well worth visiting but for now we will keep walking, leaving behind us the Palazzo Grassi and the church of San Samuele, where Casanova was baptised and gave his first one and a half sermons. We take the calle on the right and walk past the palace where he was born, the places where he grew up, and where he had his first sexual experience, with the Savorgnan sisters. We then stop at the nearby Campo Santo Stefano, a peaceful, large square with a majestic Gothic church.

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